Dairy Lane Cafe
319 19 St NW
Nestled on a quiet street situated close to a residential neighborhood (from what I could see behind the parking lot of the building where the car I arrived in was parked), the Dairy Lane Cafe was our choice for an impromptu lunch just ahead of the madness which is the start of Stampede. As such, I was quite surprised to find a packed inside seating area, as well as all the available spots being taken up on the uncovered tables situated on the sidewalk in front of the building.
It didn’t seem like it was anywhere near any walk up traffic from the office worker crowd, but yet still busy at the noon hour. Scanning the relaxed attire of those eating already, it was clear to me that this was a casual, homey spot for clean honest grub for those who might more often than not, just live around the corner – some younger ladies who seemed to be out for a bite to eat with their girlfriends, to some guys who obviously fell into the hipster genre given their tight fitting attire and attitude, as well as strangely enough, some rougher dressed fellows who if I were to assume from the paint on their overalls, were some tradesmen on break for something to eat while on the day job.
The spot came recommended by locals and was described to me as a throwback to simpler times and with operators very keen on the whole “produced local” attitude, and knowing where their ingredients came from. The space was not very large inside and staffed seemingly by just two busy servers. Some large framed pictures hung on the wall reminded me of a by-gone era in rural Alberta, catching my eye enough to snap a photo myself. If I were to compare the looks and feel of this place to anywhere in Vancouver, I would say something like Aphrodite’s Organic Cafe & Pie Shop in Kits comes to mind.
This past Saturday (May 7th), The Chef’s Table Society of B.C. once again hosted their Annual Spot Prawn Festival at False Creek’s Fishermen’s Wharf to kick start the approximately two month long B.C spot prawn season which brings live, locally sourced and sustainable spot prawns right to the city’s citizens.
La Posta Vecchia
538 Seabright Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
California has a long tradition of Italian immigration beginning in the 19th century. Although New York is probably more closely associated with this wave of newcomers, in the mid-1800s California had the most Italian immigrants of any state. In Santa Cruz and elsewhere along the coast, northern Italians quickly became very prominent in the fishing industry. They also played important roles in developing California’s vegetable, fruit and wine industries.
Even today, one can see the imprint of this immigration (e.g. Del Monte foods, Ghirardelli chocolates). Perhaps this explains this state’s strong ties to Italian cuisine – indeed, California cuisine in my mind is primarily rooted in Italian sensibilities with French, other European and some Asian techniques and ingredients thrown in for good measure. Despite this, it’s only been in the last decade or so that authentic regional Italian food has been widely available.
MRKT (Market) Restaurant
10542 Jasper Ave NW
My poor camera was dropped at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and the lens no longer retracts. I loved that camera – but after extensive research, im back in the game with a new camera! Happy to do my first post with pics from my new baby.
On a rainy dreary day, we head down the “ugly” part of Jasper Avenue to try the new restaurant by Carla Alexander of Soul Soup and Sal Di Maio who owns the gastropub downstairs, Red Star. MRKT Market is simply that – a “fresh market” concept restaurant where the limited menu provides you with a few choices in terms of sandwiches, soups, and specials. 3 sandwiches, 3 soups, one special the day we were there.
The interior feels like a wooden airplane fuselage. I’ve heard canoe, and upscale log cabin (rather generous i’d say), it is nonetheless hip, while managing some warmth. The most prominent feature of MRKT market is the long table that allows many diners to share a meal.
1711 Mission Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
I recall that the brilliant food writer Jonathan Gold once wrote that he’s been to Campanile in Los Angeles hundreds of times. When I read that maybe 10 or 15 years ago, I couldn’t even fathom such a concept. But now the combination of steady employment and living in one place for a good chunk of time has conspired to generate a small handful of places that I’ve been to so many times and with which I have such a relationship that it’s less a business and more an annex of my own home. One of them is Ristorante Avanti, owned and run by Cindy and Paul Geise for over twenty years and still going strong.
What leads me and the many other regulars to return so often? I suspect it’s the combination of well-executed food with a menu that has both dishes that I know will be available when I’m in need of something tried, true and delicious, and a rotating list of daily specials that ensures there’s always something new and exciting to try.
Fremont Diner (The Fremont)
2660 Fremont Drive
Sonoma, CA 95476
For me, the term “diner” conjures up images of neon, white and black checkered tile, red leather stools, wise cracking waitresses, and greasy spoon food of questionable origin. In reality, these days, good food can be found anywhere. Lunch counters, strip malls, and of course, diners.
Fremont Diner is best described as a “slow food” diner. Ingredients all locally sourced. Time, attention, and care is paid to every aspect of every dish. This is not what you would consider your average “diner”.
Located on Highway 12/121 that cuts through Napa Valley and Sonoma, Fremont Diner is actually easy to miss. You could drive by it every day and barely notice the understated sign, the rusting truck out front, and the gas station diner appearance.
The Front Room Restaurant and Bar
73 Congress St
Portland, ME 04101-3661
It never hurts to be friendly. One example of this is striking up a conversation with the people next to you at a restaurant or bar. You meet some of the most amazing people that way. I find smaller towns especially good for this. People just seem to be more open to conversation with strangers.
However, getting recommendations from people you meet in a restaurant is an interesting proposition. On the one hand, you’re both in the same establishment, enjoying the same food, which implies there are some things in common. On the other hand, you really know nothing else about them, other than maybe they are really nice, very friendly, or seem very knowledgeable. However, it will always be an adventure.
When dining at Fore Street, another Portland establishment, we were given a recommendation by a very friendly couple next to us for brunch. Well, after they inquired about our planned dining excursions, and criticized our breakfast choices :) They suggested that the Front Room was the best brunch in town. Seeing as i wasn’t totally committed on my choice, we decided to give it a shot.