We are most fortunate to keep company with John Estacio, home chef and opera composer extraordinaire. We’ve been anticipating his new opera, Lillian Alling, for three years…ever since he set the first musical note on paper.
What better reason to plan a trip to Vancouver to go to the world premiere of the opera at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre? Well, none, actually. Thanks to the generosity of my child-minding parents, Mike and I also spent two glorious adult nights in Opus Hotel in Yaletown. Ya gotta love a hotel that hands you a glass of champagne after check in. And looks like this:
As is my way, I made carefully researched reservations for our two dinners – one night at La Quercia, the other night at Yew. Our special find in Vancouver was a gorgeous French brunch at Cafe Medina. The rest of our meals were spent breaking bread with family and friends.
La Quercia was a special night. It is noisy, packed, exquisite place. You have to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom. It is a feasting experience like nothing I’ve ever had before.
Order your (rustic, Italian) wine, and choose the chef’s menu. Chef Lucais Syme (our next door neighbours’ son, as it turns out) then crafts seven glorious courses – all true to the inspiration of Italy.
I didn’t bring my camera. I drank a sum of wine. I can tell you we ate and ate. The food kept coming – each course a small dollop on the plate – the ingredients fresh and the flavours distinct. I ate veal marrow (and I never eat veal). I ate buttery slivers of smoked salami, tarty fluffy parmesan souffle, ahi tuna on a bed of warm chickpeas. I ate penne with kicky tomato sauce, baby ravioli stuffed with pork cheeks and ricotta. And finished with dolce: cannoli, hazelnut choco torte, caramel gelati, Louise’s carrot cake. I felt like I never had to eat again.
Hats off to this innovative little place – a love letter to Italy tucked deep in Kitsilano.
Well, how do you top that? You don’t. Yew tried, though. A jewel of a grand room in the middle of the Four Seasons, this place is mod and happening. I ordered the salmon courses – salmon tartare, with poached egg. (I cannot resist the poached egg). And then salmon with an earthy mushroom sauce. We toasted the composer with the Lillian Alling cocktail – a savoury green concoction. It was no La Quercia, but the company was exceptional. It was a tasty appetizer to the opera itself – a lovely and sad story, a trio of love and heartbreak and betrayal.
The next morning, it seemed appropriate to document our brunch at Cafe Medina. It looked like so:
Other YVR adventures included:
- Over ordering at dim sum at Pelican Seafood on Hastings
- A potent latte from Turks on Commercial
- Crunchy mango prawn salad roll from Fuse Express
- And my regular cappuccino from Caffe Artigiano, across from the art gallery downtown
Farewell Vancouver. I’ve returned to my affordable dusty prairie town, but I know you are a mere 90 minute flight away…until we meet again.