By Don Douloff, April 17, 2008
British Columbia’s natural bounty provides area chefs with a dizzying array of top-notch raw ingredients that grace the plates of Vancouver’s top restaurants. Food lovers can explore the city’s gastronomic treasures for themselves via Urban Bites, a local gastronomic tour exclusive to guests of Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.
A collaboration between Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and Edible British Columbia, the province’s largest culinary tourism operator, Urban Bites evolves as a half-day tour (the Amuse Bouche) or full-day excursion (Entrée).
Excursions include a tour led by local food artisan Eric Pateman, of Edible British Columbia, and feature lunch at Granville Island’s Fisherman’s Wharf or in Chinatown. Capping the tour is a dinner prepared by Four Seasons executive chef Rafael Gonzalez using ingredients sampled that day.
Food guide Pateman begins the Amuse Bouche adventure on Granville Island, dropping in on such notable food purveyors as South China Seas (specializing in South East Asian, Indian and Mexican ingredients) and Oyama Sausage, a premier vendor of locally produced sausages, pâtés and pork products. Also on the agenda is a side trip to Granville Island Brewery, cheesemonger Les Amis du Fromage and artisanal sake maker Masa Shiroki, as well as Liberty Wine Merchants, for a tasting of B.C. wines. The morning ends with lunch at Go Fish, a much-lauded Fisherman’s Wharf seafood shack that takes its catch from local waters.
In contrast, the Entrée tour includes all the Amuse Bouche elements, but stops for a dim-sum lunch in Chinatown. Leading the excursion is chef Cecilia Young, who also explores a wide variety of foods and experiences, including a traditional tea tasting and a visit to the North Vancouver factory of renowned chocolatier Thomas Haas.
Urban Bites is designed for groups of up to 20 and would work well as a spousal programme. Moreover, groups can customize their own Urban Bites itineraries.