Archive for May, 2010

Gotta save room for dessert

We decided late last year to start saving our hard earned tips and some supplier rebates to get to San Francisco for a trip that would mix some work and some pleasure. Our good friends in the Gastown area talked highly about the culinary scene there: the bartenders being quite the cocktail leaders, the local food movement being one of the best, etc.

We headed for Bellingham on a Friday to get the cheap flight from our friends of Allegiant Air, who if you didn’t know fly really cheap to Vegas as well, but that’s a whole other story entirely. We stayed at Parc 55 Hotel right in downtown and we got the best rate using a hint that we were given by friends in the biz. First check Expedia for prices online, then call the hotel and ask them to beat that price–given that hotels pay commission to online booking engines, it’s a trick that often works.

We got into the hotel and, not wanting to waste any time, headed right for Fisherman’s Wharf and some lunch. Boudin is the self-proclaimed original sourdough bread baker and they occupy a big building housing a bakery, a fast casual restaurant, bakery with a assortment of condiments, books and souvenirs. We went upstairs to the full service restaurant that sits in a big, great space with view of Alcatraz, and open kitchen with big forno oven and a menu which we couldn’t wait to try.

The highlights of our lunch included:

  • French Onion soup – great croutons, dark rich stock
  • Chicken Frites: half chicken cooked under a brick, hand cut frites, and a dark jus
  • Pork Chop porterhouse, great thick steak, seared and roasted with herbs, sea salt and cracked pepper
  • Drink: BearBoat Sauvignon blanc – Alexander Valley – great wine, lots of dark fruit, low acids, worked real well with a grilled dish, I would swear you can also taste some attributes of the big red from Alexander Valley Cabernets

Mixed in with all the regular Fisherman’s Wharf attractions: an old Navy submarine, a Merchant Sailor Ship, a penny arcade are some gems in a part of the pier system called Ferry Building. Through the week it has a indoor markets featuring great restaurants like Slanted Door in its newish waterfront location, along with great butcher shops, Fish mongers, Sur le Table and other great merchants.

The centrepiece and main attraction for us was Boccalone Salumeria, the butcher and deli of famed head to tail chef Chris Consentino. They had a huge array of great salamis, prosciutto, salted pork liver, and handmade sausages like mortadella and porchetta, just to cover a few. It was a well set up store that also had sandwiches, and small cones of daily salumerie items as a taster. (atttached Pic) We brought back a few of the dry cured sausages to try and sample out on our own butcher blocks as part of our shared courses. There were quite a few great shops inside and when we had done some more research we realised there would have to be another visit the next day to check out a few more shops.

Chipotle anyone?

We stopped into Slanted Door and had though we had planned to eat here, lunch was still sitting on us and so we decided we would have some cocktails and some snacks. It’s in a great waterfront room, and though we didn’t have resos we got there at 5 pm so there wasn’t a problem. They seated us at a large communal chef style table . . . just lucky I guess . . .

The cocktail list was big with lots of Asian touches as well as a large mix of classic cocktails. The service was quick and soon we had some great drinks in front of us, the highlight of which was a bourbon and basil smash with a hand cut ice cube that must have been 2 inches x 2 inches and 3 inches long. Great!

The food also came quickly, with the highlight being a house made lamb patty topped with a Chinese olive and preserved lemon relish served with 6 kusshi oysters topped with a radish and nuoc chaam style dressing. The Chicken claypot with a light caramel, chillies and fresh ginger was also very impressive.

With the startings of a food coma coming we set off back to the hotel to freshen up, put away the foods we had found and get ready for some wine bars and cocktail places. Overall, the trip was off to a good start!

San Francisco is know well for the Craft Cocktail culture, so the first stop should be Bourbon and Branch, which is perhaps the definitive institution of San Francisco Craft Cocktail culture. We headed there around midnight and unfortunately for us we forgot to get the password for the other rooms. In total Bourbon and Branch has 4 rooms, 3 entrances and a whole tonne of cocktail culture, one part of which is rooms accessible only by passwords which they put on their website.

We headed into the Library Room: it was a long thin space, bar at one end and 14 foot ceilings lined with books candles and 1920’s circa barware. Next time though we will make sure we got the password, would like to see what is on the other side!!!! The Cocktail list was small but in a speakeasy like this I always leave it up to the bartender to craft a cocktail with the liquor I am interested in, this time was bourbon, which should come as no surprise really. I got a version of a bourbon smash, which was really good and balanced, a good start. The rest of the group went rum, tequila and vodka and they were all very good drinks. For my second round, I went gin and got a cucumber gimlet. Again a great cocktail, but all in the drinks definitely were not blowing away the stuff that we drink from our local experts like JT at Market, Bobbi K and Simon at Boneta or Josh and Jeff at Diamond. Great room, no loud music, and good service definitely makes this a spot to go back to and fully explore!!!

After Bourbon and Branch, it was late, 2am-ish and even though we were in a food coma earlier, we hit Mason Street and found a 1950’s diner to grab a late snack. It had a great old diner feel with big booths and your regular clientele of  after-bar, after-work and nighthawks out late on a Friday.

The late night breakfast was good–we had a mix of omelettes, eggs and sausage and scrambles which were all spot on with classic shredded hash browns and some really good coffee! One bright spot was the fresh fruit and cottage cheese plate that was massive. It must have been 12 oz of cottage cheese and a pound of fruit, the again, everything is big in America!

Off to the hotel for bed time . . . or hold on maybe a six-pack of Rolling Rock. Yes, Rolling Rock, my favorite beer in America and still unavailable in Canada. Strangely enough Allan’s beer is Tecate which is also not available in Canada! Damn LDB . . .

Fresh local poultry at the Market

Saturday morning. The 9 am wake up call came extra early after the Rolling Rock late night, so first on the agenda was coffee. Stat! The sunny and warm weather was a welcome addition to the day and I threw on my favourite combo of long shorts and a t-shirt, grabbed my camera and headed back to the pier to see what the Ferry Plaza Market held for us. On this day it was a certified farmers market operated by the CUESA: Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture! Dare you to say that fast 3 times!!! It’s open Tuesday and Saturday and has a huge list of products with many organic choices along with artisan breads, cheese, preserves, salts, spices, etc. You get the picture–its Granville island on steroids . . . organic, sustainable, steroids.

The best part was the food and by that I mean the street food: Porchetta sandwiches from the coolest rotisserie truck I’ve ever seen. It holds 18 bars of pork, chicken and ribs all in a neat little trailer. I had a hand poured drip coffee: the water was poured through wood trays with compostable filters, dripping my 2nd cup of coffee goodness. A breakfast tent was set up with local french toast and organic berries, eggs as you like them, and the biggest pancakes I have seen in a long time.

There was also a taqueria with amazing hand made tortillas, huevos rancheros, and pulled pork tacos; a handful of bakers with perfect croissants, bagels, savoury breads, and of course sandwiches made with all of fine ingredients from cheese, to meats and produce.

Our favourite was 4505 Meats, a charcuterie and butchery shop that had everything from toad in a hole to grilled sausages on a bun with an option of Chicharrones added to them (crisp fried pork rind). We tried the lamb Merguez that was great little spicy sausages, hand made sauerkraut, onion relish and a great crisp bun. We also had grilled chicken Banh Mi: a grilled chicken thigh, house made pickled vegetables, a good pate, and great sricha mayo—just perfect.

Of all the treats, the two best things we had were a beef sausage roll with brioche (!) and a side of macaroni salad that was infused with pork. You’ll see this one at a new project we are working on so I won’t divulge all the details of this treat!

While we were there, we found some great dried mexican peppers, that we used on our Cinco de Mayo dinner menu and some great handmade salts. The great part about the farmers market was the information available on all the suppliers. They all had a bio posted on the owners, where they were from, what other markets they travel to in the bay area and what sustainable procedures and routines they follow.

All in all this is a great example of what you can do if you build a market around a great principle: there was everyone from foodies, to chefs in whites, to families all shopping in the same palce. And I was told it is like that all year round–10,000 people a day all shopping for great products.

I only wish that we had such a venue!

Stay Tuned for Part 2 and More . . .


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Last year, Two Chefs and a Table catered a dozen wedding, each as different and distinct as the couples taking their vows.

With so much time devoted to weddings, a lot of people have asked what us it takes to do a wedding catering, so we thought we would use one of this summer’s weddings to give you a small glimpse into that world.

The process started nearly a year ago with an initial 45-minute meeting in June of 2009. We went over the venue, menu and overall vision of event for the bride and groom to be. Then came the emails–109 in total—covering questions and answers on an endless list of details regarding every aspect of the meal. We made two visits to our rentals supplier to decide on colours, kinds of glassware, linens, cutlery, etc. Whoever said “it’s all in the details” must have been thinking of the wedding business!

We then went through a menu tasting with the couple for the regular menu. This consisted of 8 plates dishes plsus desserts. We analyzed the options with them and then finalized the menu details making flavour tweaks and other adjustments. As a chef, this part of the process takes thick skin but I have to keep reminding myself that it’s their party, not mine.

Then we repeated the process for the vegetarian menu: we’ve got to make sure the vegetarians are also quite happy with everything.

During the week of the Wedding the pressure starts to turn up:

Our first hope is for minimal changes in the itinerary: that mostly means paying for sunshine and no rain. The first rule of weddings is that a happy bride means a happy caterer.
Three days out, the prep begins. For this menu the items to be prepared include:

  • Hand made Gnocchi – 630 pieces
  • Fried Sage – 240 pieces
  • Short Ribs Braised – 120 pieces
  • Asparagus Blanch 480 pieces
  • Pork Tenderloin cut and trimmed – 360 pieces
  • Roasted Beets – 880 slices
  • Sliced salmon 630 razor thin slices
  • 300 peas shelled
  • Hand puree 50 lbs sweet potato

At some point in there, the crew needs to find time for a little sleep and dinner of their own but hopefully the outcome will all be worth it.

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This is a very special time of year for Vancouver chefs as some of the best local ingredients are just coming into season. With that in mind, the Two Chefs and a Table June Wine Drinker Dinner will focus on some of the best local, sustainable products that this region has to offer. Featuring courses made house-made sausages, wild line-caught Barkley Sound salmon, local Kushhi oysters and spot prawns and Pemberton beef this tantalizing menu is built upon ingredients that are the envy of chefs all over the World. During the special dinner on June 2nd, the courses are being served with specially paired selections from Poplar Grove Winery and their sister winery Monster Vineyards.

The Wine Drinker Dinner will be held on the evening of Wednesday June 2nd and the set menu will be offered until the end of the week as part of the daily dinner service. The dinner costs $65 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) and reservations are recommended. For more information or reservations call 778-233-1303 or email info@twochefsandatable.com.

First Course

Wine: Monster Rosé 2009

Spicy Lamb Sausage with Kusshi oysters w/spicy radish and chives mignonette

Second Course

Wine: Monster Gewürztraminer 2008

Cured Salmon and Beet Carpaccio: Long line caught salmon, citrus cured, roasted golden beets, mustard ricotta cheese, frissée, olive oil crisps

Third Course

Wine: Poplar Grove Chardonnay 2008

Local Spot Prawns- grilled with cilantro and chive oil, green papaya salad with a cured shrimp nuoc chaam

Entree Course

Wine: Poplar Grove Cab Franc 2006

Choice of

Iron Seared Pemberton beef w/red wine demi, lobster mushrooms, pomme puree & roasted heirloom carrots


Free range Pork Belly: 24-hour marinated and pressed w/Quebec maple syrup, pan roasted sweet potato puree and baby roasted vegetables


Wine: Poplar Grove Late Harvest Riesling

Choice of:

Poplar Grove Blue Cheesecake: mix of rich cheesecake, lined with artisan made Poplar Grove blue cheese, finished with a lavender honey


Fresh Berry Pavlova: local berries with a classic Pavlova

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When we started Two Chefs, one of the things we really wanted to add to our monthly schedule was a series of wine pairing dinners that would allow us to highlight the best foods of the season and match them with some of the great wines from BC and Pacific Northwest, and the Old World.
One of the great things about being proprietors is that we now work directly with our wine reps and we’re able to bounce our new menu ideas off them as they’re being developed. We can sample new varietals and vintages of wines that were being released and get the right matches for everything we’re making.

We’re currently working on our next couple of Wine Drinker Dinners. The first will be held on Wednesday June 2nd in conjunction with Poplar Grove Winery, a boutique Okanagan winemaker. The menu is focused on the local and sustainable summer products like Spot Prawns, Pemberton beef, hand made lamb sausage, and Barkley Sound salmon. We’re posting full menu details on our blog shortly and, as always, if you can’t make the Wine Drinker Dinner, the full menu will be served at Two Chefs and a Table for the rest of the week after the dinner.
The next dinner on our agenda is to be a celebration of the World Cup being held this summer in South Africa. We’re going to be focusing on the countries that have dominated the tournament in the past like Brazil, Italy and Germany and, since we all pull for our home countries, there might be some Mexican and Dutch influences as well. We are going to be holding a Wine Drinker Dinner series starting on July 7th and running until July 11th, when the Finals are held. Once again, we’re working with wine Guru Paul Watkin of the newly formed ICON wine and spirits group. This will be a great dinner!!
Keep following the blog for the wine dinner details and full menus.

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The lovely salmon Al is holding is off the salmon troller Sapphire Sky and was caught just outside Barkley Sound.They are hook and line so they are sustainable and as local as we can get now . . . It’s deep iridescent blue, caught specifically for Mikuni Wild Harvest and shipped to us in under 24 hours from the time it was caught.

We are currently doing a salmon crudo with it, as an amuse  and are also pairing
it with fresh spot prawns for a local, sustainable seafood feast.

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Cinco de Mayo Dinner Prep

Our monthly special menu events are always a big effort for the Table and I thought that this time I would document a little behind the scenes action to give you a sense of what goes into an event like this.

Tuesday May 4th: The day before the big event is full of prepping fresh snapper for the main course. We have 24 fresh fish that need to be broken down into portions. At the same time the team is preparing sauces and ingredients like the Guajillo Salsa, Mole, Verde Rice, Churro batter, and about 20 other items that will be used in the menu.

Al and Tommy have the Mexican heritage, plus Tommy lived in Mexico for a while so they are tasked driving the prep bus on the all-important day before. I, on the other hand, am cutting the Snapper and trying to stay out of the way . . . Everything looks good and tastes even better.

Wednesday, May 5th: The final prep pieces are being put together during the morning and early afternoon. This means cooking pinto beans, black beans and making salsas. We picked up the Chocolate Chili Gelato for one of our dessert options and got the all-important Negro Modelo chilled and ready to serve.

Our good friend Cassandra Anderton is in for dinner and we’re looking forward to her feedback on the menu—the first Mexican one we’ve done. She is pretty well travelled in the food industry and the feedback will be welcomed.

The room was full for dinner service, and we even had to turn down some last-minute reso requests from friends. The evening went really smoothly with Al at the helm of the kitchen and Mark on the front of house . . . too bad the Canucks weren’t as smooth on the night.

Another successful dinner completed! Next up will be a wine pairing dinner with selections from Poplar Grove Winery on June 2nd. Stay tuned here for more details.

Karl Gregg

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A note from Karl and the team at Two Chefs:

–We got some of the first of season spot prawns today and we’re going to be pairing them with some fresh snapper for an entrée and we will also be serving them on their own as an appy. The final plating and prep for the appy course is being finalized as I type. We’re only an hour away from serving but the Prawns are fresh out of the water and we wanted to offer them to our customers at the peak of their freshness.

Come join us tonight to see what we’re doing with this special catch.

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