The Weekly Rant – Episode 1

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If you follow me on Twitter you probably know that I like to speak my mind on various topics. Usually my opinions fuel some heated debate and sometimes it gets downright ugly but at the very least it gets people talking/thinking about issues that affect our daily lives. This post is the first in a new series of weekly posts intended to bring these issues to a wider audience. This is going to be fun.

Topic number 1, food trucks in Steveston. Over the weekend I saw that the Le Tigre food truck was at the Steveston Farmers Market. I know that food trucks are staples at other farmers markets around the Lower Mainland but I don’t agree with food trucks operating anywhere near Steveston. Steveston is an extremely seasonal area for restaurants and they have to stick it out through the slow fall and winter months relying on summer business to make ends meet. To have a food truck pull into town on a sunny summer day and take customers away from these businesses doesn’t sit well with me.

Steveston, home of the worlds tamest Seagulls...
Steveston, home of the worlds tamest Seagulls… Photo WFLBC.com

Le Tigre has done nothing wrong. They have the required permits, they’re great people and they make great food, it just shouldn’t be happening in Steveston. Sorry guys, I love you but… you know. I have the same opinion about food trucks at White Rock Beach so if a food truck shows up there I’m not going to be happy about it.

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Norgate as seen from International Plaza – Photo WFLBC.com

Topic number 2, Norgate residents complaining about noisy trains. Norgate is located in North Vancouver just east of the Lions Gate Bridge and south of Marine Drive, so basically right beside the CN rail yard, also right behind the beautiful sulphur piles along the shores of Burrard Inlet. Norgate was developed in the 1940’s to house shipyard workers and is mostly small bungalows with an average selling price somewhere near $650,000. The rail yard has been a part of this neighbourhood for FAR longer than the current residents have lived there. For them to complain about the noise is ridiculous. There were similar complaints in New Westminster a few years ago and they met with the same public reaction. It’s like moving in next to the airport and complaining about noisy planes. If you can afford a $650,000 house you should be smart enough to buy something that isn’t right next door to noisy industry.

Two polarizing topics, feel free to add your thoughts to the comment section. Let’s keep it clean though, ok?

Scott.

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Mega Sushi in Steveston

Vancouver is home to some great sushi, we are very spoiled. Venture outside of Vancouver proper and it becomes quite a chore trying to find sushi that lives up to our high standards. Boys and girls, Mega Sushi in Richmond’s beautiful Steveston neighbourhood is right up there with the best downtown sushi joints.

Located at #100-3131 Chatham street it’s a little bit hidden away from the main shops in the heart of Steveston. It’s right at the end of Chatham street before you enter the very lovely Point Gary Park. Mega Sushi has been recomended to me many times by many people and I’m glad to say it totally lived up to the hype. I ordered a Sushi and Sashimi Bento box for lunch which came with a spicy tuna roll, 3 pieces of nigiri, 2 pieces of chicken karage, assorted sashimi, green salad and miso soup (of course).

Miso soup
Miso soup

The miso soup is, well, miso soup. Nothing earth shattering here but it’s good. That being said there are some places that have horrible miso soup so I guess it counts for something. The bento box was outstanding. The spicy tuna roll was amazing, just the right amount of acid and heat, well rolled, perfect rice, fresh fish, awesome. The sashimi was equally awesome, the ebi (shrimp) was the best ebi sashimi I’ve ever had. Raw shrimp gets fishy really fast so if it’s not fresh you’ll know. The nigiri was also fantastic, again the ebi was great as well as the tuna and salmon. The karage was fresh, hot and not greasy at all with nice seasoning in the breading. The salad was nice with just the right amount of miso dressing.

Sushi & sashimi bento box
Sushi & sashimi bento box

Steveston is quickly becoming one of my favourite food neighbourhoods in the GVRD. Make the trip out for lunch or dinner, bundle up and take a winter stroll along the Pacific and support local businesses in this great community!

Scott.

Steveston Photo Walk and lunch at Hogshack Cookhouse

Steveston, home of the worlds tamest Seagulls…

Steveston is a beautiful little corner of Richmond, tucked right along side the Pacific Ocean it is still an active fishing community as well as a popular tourist destination. Home to beautiful parks, a national historic site (The Gulf Of Georgia Cannery), a bustling fisherman’s wharf where you can buy fresh seafood right off the fishing boats and many shops and restaurants all within a very walkable old fashioned town centre.

Hog Shack Cook House

I had lunch at Hog Shack Cook House, a southern BBQ joint and one of my favourite restaurants in Greater Vancouver. Chef/Co-owner John and Co-owner Alan are great guys with a serious knack for making your restaurant visit a great one. I usually order the Smoke Lover’s Combo, So good. Hog Shack also has a terrific craft beer selection.

Smoke Lover;s Combo, Pulled Pork, Brisket coleslaw and fries, Mmmm!

After our tasty lunch Hayley an I went for a walk around this pretty ocean side village and snapped some photos, enjoy!

 

 

So you want to be a Craft Beer drinker

So you’re sitting at a bar or restaurant in Gastown with your friends one night having some drinks and you order a Canadian. You may notice people start to stare at you and then it hits you, regular beer isn’t cool! This unfortunate scene is played out several times a day in places like Gastown, Main Street, Kits and Steveston and it is 100% avoidable if you just sit back and learn how to become a craft beer drinker.

The first step in this simple yet intimidating transformation is to stop buying mass produced beer, the Molson, the Labatt’s, the Heineken, they all have to go. They are made with large amounts of ingredients that are 10 times worse for you than the alcohol is. Check the facts on corn syrup here. People are used to the taste of this mass produced beer and they often find craft beer quite overpowering at first but I’m going to give you some suggestions to ease you into  loving the best beer money can buy.

Start with something that’s fairly mild in flavour, don’t start with an Imperial IPA because it will probably frighten you back to the corn syrup brews you’re trying to escape. Some recommendations are North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner or Gordon Biersch Pilsner. If you’re looking for an introduction to the world of hops, start with Sam Adams Boston Lager, Granville Island Brockton IPA or Anchor Steam. These are as close as craft beer gets to being mass produced but they still offer that hoppy flavour that most west coast craft beer in known for.

Once you grow to love these brews you’ll want to dig deeper into the depths of flavour craft beer has to offer. Using resources like CAMRA, Vancouver Beer Blog and the multitude of other beer blogs in Vancouver will help you find your next favourite beer. Good luck fellow beer lovers, if you ever need someone to drink with you in person I’m just a tweet away!! I’m kind of like an life coach, but with booze.

Scott.

The inaugural Beerthirst Tour De Richmond

The guys at Beerthirst were kind enough to invite me along as they loaded a bus full of craft beer enthusiasts and traveled around to some of Richmonds craft beer hot spots. Actually I invited myself…but they said yes so it’s pretty much the same, right? The tour made 6 stops, Fogg n’ Suds, The Kingswood Arms, Hogshack Cookhouse, Blue Canoe, O’Hares and The Pumphouse. For a full rundown of the days events check out this post at Vancouver Beer Blog, it gives a fantastic rundown of the day, blow by blow, and quite frankly my post would look almost identical if I went by the same format (nice job guys!). I’ll post some of my pics at the end of this post but what I really wanted to talk about is Beerthirst themselves.

Beerthirst is self described as an independent agent of fine crafted beer, a perfect description of what they do. They seek out great tasting beer and bring it to Canada. I can honestly say that I have yet to sample a beer that Beerthirst represents that I don’t like, seriously they have amazing taste in craft beer. They bring us beer from amazing beer producers like Elysian Brewing Company, Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, Green Flash Brewing Company and many others. Their lineup can be found all over the lower mainland in specialty beer retailers and forward thinking restaurants and pubs.

On the Tour De Richmond I got to spend some time getting to know most of the Beerthirst team and they are terrific people with a real passion for what they do. What else can you ask for in life? Check them out online and follow Beerthirst and BeerthirstTom on Twitter and make sure you sign up for their next event, it will be awesome, guaranteed.

Scott.

Hog Shack Cook House, WFLBC BBQ Challenge stop #5

The BBQ Challenge keeps chugging along, arriving at stop number 5, Hog Shack Cook House in Richmond’s historic and beautiful Steveston neighborhood. I know what you’re thinking, BBQ in Richmond? Yes, and it’s good. My co-pilot on this occasion was my daughter Hayley who behaved like a perfect little angel but wasn’t in it for the right reasons, she’s a little young for BBQ after all…

Hog Shack is a nice room with lots of flat screens for game nights and a ridiculous list of craft beers that I can honestly say will not be beat and I think I should just give them the title of best tap list right now, but I won’t, they have to wait like everyone else! The blues music is fitting but a little played out. We get it BBQ restaurants, your food is southern! Chef John was kind enough to make me a sampler of BBQ items for the purposes of my challenge with smallish potions of  7 dishes and 3 sides with a couple of house made pickles for good luck. 

First was the sliced beef brisket, one of my favorite BBQ meats. It was very tender with a buttery fat cap and tangy BBQ sauce, house made, and melted in your mouth. The BBQ style at Hog Shack seems to be a combo of Texas style rubs and Kansas City BBQ sauce, and it works very well. Some BBQ purists would be horrified but lets face it, we’re in Canada and this fusion works.

The pulled pork was juicy and tender with the same rich and tangy sauce. The meat had great flavor on its own and has obviously benefited from a healthy rub prior to being smoked. Pulled pork is what started my love affair with BBQ but has since become an after thought due to the caliber of other dishes, such as meat number 3, Dino Bones aka beef ribs. Dino Bones is a fitting name for beef ribs as they dwarf Pork ribs by at least 2 to 1. The beef ribs at Hog Shack are meatier than most and have the same rub/sauce combo found in the other dishes. Beef is my kryptonite and beef ribs have that amazing flavor that only comes from meat cooked on the bone. The ribs were tender and full of flavor, but weren’t as juicy as I expected given the amount of meat on them.

Meat number 4 was a quarter chicken, leg and thigh, prepared in the rub/sauce fusion. This chicken was the juiciest I have ever had at a restaurant. When I cut into the meat in almost squirted me. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the flavor of the sauce really matched well with chicken. Meat numbers 4 and 5 were both pork ribs, one was baby back and the other was St. Louis style side ribs. The baby back ribs fell right off the bone and had that awesome fatty/buttery texture that baby backs should. The side ribs were a bit of a miss though, good flavour with less sauce and more rub but the meat was a little tough which is typical of side ribs.

The sides were good, all house made including mini loaves of cornbread. The baked beans were nice and sweet/smoky and the coleslaw was light and had a distinct apple cider vinegar flavor. The best item though isn’t actually on the menu. They are called Burnt Ends and are my new favorite food. Burnt Ends are made from the “point” of  a beef brisket, the point is removed after the brisket is finished smoking and is returned to the smoker for more cooking as it takes longer for the fat to render out and the meat to become tender. The taste starts out like a burnt marshmallow, very sweet with a hint of charcoal, and when you chew it the flavor of the rendered fat, beef, sauce and seasoned crust all swirl together in a money shot of BBQ goodness. I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it. There’s no picture because I ate them too fast but if you click on the picture of the whole platter they’re right in front of the corn bread.

The Hog Shack Cook House is located at #160-3900 Bayview street in Steveston (Richmond). Follow them on Twitter so you know when they have Burnt Ends or click on their logo at the top of the page to see their website.

Wow, longest blog post ever… The BBQ Challenge is getting good, lots of great places with amazing food!!! Still a long way to go though, it’s tough work but someone has to do it.

Scott.