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Archive for June, 2010

The Southern Dawn

As we mentioned before, we use a lot of different suppliers for our bistro and one of the best of the bunch is Mikuni Wild Harvest. They supply us with a wide range of items from wild ramps, mushroom mixes from all over the Pacific Northwest, vinegars from France, and salts from Hawaii. One of the best things about them is how hands on they are in their operation.

Liam Stockwell, with whom I share Sechelt family roots, is always trying to get out there and get his hands on the food when its being harvested so that when they show up at our back door with the coolest delivery truck in Vancouver full of stuff, he knows firsthand about about all of it. First of all the truck is full of fresh stuff, and new stuff, and we can climb into the back of it and check everything we want and then they weigh it tally it up and we take it out and straight into the kitchen where we can immediately start playing with the new products.


As for Liam being hands on he went out spot prawn fishing a couple of weeks ago and brought back some of the freshest and biggest spot

Packing the Spot Prawns

prawns we have seen this season. He promised us that he would snap some pics for us and he brought back some photos of the boat and catch. Knowing that a person we like and trust like Liam has been out to see the harvest in action and has a hand in it makes us feel that much better about the food we serve.

While we don’t expect all of our suppliers to put on the waterproofs and get on a boat, this kind of commitment and connection can be shown in many ways and it definitely makes us that much more excited about working with suppliers.

Look at all those tasty prawns

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Rabbit River Farms

No cages at Rabbit River Farms

Some of the things which drive us as restaurateurs are the goals of always getting better at what we do, being a better community player and, at the end of the day, just making better food. One way this expresses itself is in a never-ending search to find and use better ingredients in building our menus.

When I was growing up, I would go with my grandfather to Cloverdale where he’d buy his weeks worth of eggs. I always knew their eggs tasted better than at home, so it was a treat to go there and have breakfast on long weekend end trips over from Sechelt. I never knew why we would drive 20 miles to get 2 dozen eggs–I just wanted to ride my bike around their massive acreage–but now years later I know why we did that trek . . . Those eggs were fresh, and from a great farmer who followed a lot of quality practices that helped create great conditions for the hens to lay the best eggs. I remember a huge barn with tonnes of chickens, but they each had a cool little booth with hay, water and feed and they seemed to come and go as they wanted–cage free. At that time, it was just the way the good farmers would raise their hens . . . And back then they were really cheap.

Many of our suppliers are seasonal, a lot are local and some are just new to us—like Rabbit River Farms. We heard about them before, probably cause we saw them in the stores and then we picked up some more information through the media as well. We did some research and made the decision that we would move all our in house egg products to Rabbit River, from brunch and breakfast items, to those we use in our handmade burgers and dessert. Now that we’re using their eggs, we look forward to carrying their product for a long time

We’re proud to be using eggs that are raised more humanely, organically and cage free; we know the taste is better, we know the quality and freshness is great as the farm is in Richmond and they are delivered weekly, and they’re only 3-4 days old when we get them. Steve Easterbrook at Rabbit River also brings in surrounding farms’ product for grading and washing, so he must have a great reputation for handling and quality.

Check out their website–you can buy their eggs in most stores now. They are delicious!

http://www.rabbitriverfarms.com/

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So as I sit typing this, it’s 2am on Sunday and Allan and my day started at 9am Saturday, abruptly at that, following a night of tossing and turning. On most pre-event sleeps you lie in bed with an overwhelming thought of “oh jeez what have we missed?” Oh, there are always prep lists and checklists but the thought still gnaws away at the brain if there is something that has fallen between the cracks.

As I sit here at my laptop and reflect while I sip a fine half shot—yes, only a half shot of bourbon (!!) — I wonder where did the whole day go, all 17 hours of it.

The day went something like this:

9:00am: quick shower, out the door and off to the restaurant.
9:30am: get a bit of prep organized for the wedding, make and double check all lists whilst having a litre of coffee, an egg sandwich and a cookie for breakfast! Also lend a hand to get Allan set up for brunch service: make pancake mix, cut some fresh veg for omelettes and such.
12:00 noon: all equipment and uniforms are now loaded and all notes and menus are organized and ready to go. We grab one of our fine young lads and off we go to finalize some purchases and ensure of delivery timing of meal elements like:

  • Sticky Rice from New town Bakery.  they are the experts use an expert when ever you can, especially if cheaper than we can make,  I know  I know , we cant make everything.
  • Great Desserts from Dole Salani Bakery on Clarke Drive–great people and great desserts. On the day, we used chocolate ganache bites, coconut macaroons, Madeleine’s and some dessert bars.

Then it’s off to our commissary in Point grey for last minute items like:Canape anyone?

  • Sear 390 pieces of pork
  • Make 500 Crostinis
  • Slice and peel 40 beets into 800 pieces
  • Etc, etc

3:00pm: Ok, time to load up and head to venue.

Load in to venues always can be interesting: its like a beehive, there are already 2 decorators, 8 photo and video folks (yes, 8!) and concerned relatives on site. We got the first questions from coffee-needy relatives wondering when coffee will be ready.

We get set up, oh and it isn’t always glamorous kitchens, kitchens are expensive to build so most venues don’t bother including them. Ours today was a room with two fridges and, as usual, not nearly enough counter space. Our work-around for the day was a makeshift kitchen on a deck outside the hall. Outside, under a tent, that is. Despite the challenging unseasonable weather, we have worked with this set-up before and know that it will be fine.

5:30pm: Guests start arriving an hour early for the event–not the best scenario for set-up and prep, but it’s best for the crew to keep heads down and power through.

7:00pm: The happy couple arrives, beaming and looking sharp. They have changed out of wedding formals to casual and fun attire for the reception. It’s go time!

15 minutes to first course and in 7 minutes we get 120 plates out with no problems.

15 minutes later, it’s time for the second course to go out and we get these plates our in 8 minutes. Everyone’s happy so far . . .

30 minutes later 3rd course out in record time–6 minutes—still all good on the schedule.

We hit the first hiccup of the night on the entrée course– the speeches run late! Now the head table and newlyweds decide they want to mingle and eat last, reversing the traditional (and planned) serving order. Not a huge problem and we get our servers ready for the switch. With that, we start on the entrées and get 110 plates out in 20 minutes, give or take.

Now it’s time to serve the head table but the bride and groom are MIA. We find out that they’re getting pictures done by water, which is normally not a big problem as you can adjust and go with the flow. This one is a tough though since it’s about an hour since everyone else started eating. Then again, it’s not my party, so we wait on the head table meals until they’re done the impromptu shoot and finally, the head table is eating and we can let out a sigh.

We get the desserts out, the coffee is on and now we can start to wind down and breathe easily again. All told, the crew got 600 plates out in about and hour and 15 minutes—not bad work at all. With dessert over, the floor is cleared and the dancing starts—it’s been a while since I heard “The Electric Slide”, but with 10 weddings on the schedule so far this summer, it probably won’t be the last!

At the end of the night, the newlyweds hunted me down and were extremely impressed and so happy with the way the party turned out. It gives us something to reflect on as we do dishes, clean down and pack up to leave.

And now it’s the end of a 17-hour day and the knowledge that our team was able to execute their wedding to exceed expectations makes all this fatigue worth it.

Good night all.
Karl Gregg

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Here’s the final menu for the Wine Drinker Dinner tonight, June 2nd and through the rest of the week as our set menu.

Call us to reserve your table 778-233-1303

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