Food and Drink

Sample delicious snacks, sip yummy drinks from local establishments to beloved brand names around the world. All sorts of tasty treats can be found here, so bring your eyes and stomach. Bon appétit!

A trip around the world with Coca-Cola

World of Coca-Cola
Exterior of the World of Coca-Cola building.

I’ve been a fan of Coca-Cola for the longest time, and during my day trip into Atlanta, Georgia, we stopped at the World of Coca-Cola, an interactive exhibit that is all about the carbonated soft drink. Atlanta is where Dr. John Pemberton first crafted his concoction back in 1886, and it’s here that the company has its headquarters.

We arrived just before opening at 10:00 am EDT; while there was a large tour group waiting outside, we were able to purchase tickets quickly when it opened and made our way into the lobby. Inside the lobby, a group of ladies welcomed us and presented a complimentary mini can of Coke (classic, diet, or life) to enjoy before entering the loft.

Our Host at the World of Coca-Cola.
Our Host at the World of Coca-Cola.

The loft is a darkly-lit hall with ramps surrounded by all sorts of Coca-Cola memorabilia from around the world, many pieces originating from the turn of the 20th century. Here, our host was as effervescent as the drink itself, doling out trivia before escorting us into the theatre where we’d watch a brief film of various groups of people doing fun and exciting things to upbeat the song “On Top of the World” by the Imagine Dragons.

Upon completion of the film, we were free to explore the rest of the museum. In the main hall we could have our pictures taken with the drinks’s polar bear mascot, try and guess the formula of Coke in the vault or watch a much scaled down version of a bottling plant. The Milestones of Refreshment has on display even more artifacts from the history of Coke, including items from the Olympic games (of which the company is a sponsor). A number of the torches used were shown, sadly lacking the one from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

On the second floor, there is a 4D theatre and rooms with artwork from around the world, and a pop culture gallery. For those old enough to remember, Coca-Cola changed their formula in the 1980s to much backlash from the public. It was interesting to see newspaper articles and videos from news broadcasts featuring the negative response from Coke fans — usually, most companies try and hide their mistakes.

Of course, a trip to the World of Coca-Cola isn’t complete without visiting their tasting room. Here, five kiosks representing the five continents on which Coke is served (Europe, Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America) was were we could sample the many drinks from around the world. Some of the ones I tried were Inca Kola (Peru), Delaware Punch (Honduras), Thums Up (India), Vegita Beta (Japan), Sunfill (Djibouti), Bjäre (Sweden), Beverly (Italy) and probably a few more I’m forgetting. Rather than fill my cup (reusing the plastic cup was encouraged) to the brim each time, I only took a small amount from each of the kiosks so that I wouldn’t be loaded up on sugar for the rest of the day. And yes, the refills are unlimited. But if you must try one, definitely pour yourself a cup of Beverly.

And like any good attraction, the exit was through the gift store. Coke lovers, rejoice, this is your paradise. Commemorative glasses, bottles, plushes, apparel, sundries and accessories, all branded with the Coca-Cola logo.

Overall, it was a fun experience and learn a little more about Coke, and sample some of their products that we may never get to try (unless you travel or visit a specialty store that imports it).

The World of Coca-Cola is located at 121 Baker Street NW, across the street from the Centennial Olympic in downtown Atlanta. Hours vary by day and season, so check the web site for details. General admission to enter is $17.00 USD, though if you buy ahead online, you can save four dollars.

UBC Apple Festival returns October 19-20, 2019

Grimes Golden
A bag of Grimes Golden apples at the UBC Apple Festival.

Take a bite into fall with the UBC Apple Festival this October! On Saturday, October 19th and Sunday, October 20th, 2019, between the hours of 11:00 am and 4:00 pm PDT, you can sink your teeth into everything apple related at the UBC Botanical Gardens on the west side of the university campus.

Some 40 types of new and heritage BC-grown apples are lined up, along with pears, and individual apple trees for purchase. A list cultivars for this year is available online, including Arlet, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Karmijn de Sonnaville, Melrose, Nicola, Salish (a personal favourite), Topaz and Winesap.

Admission is $5 (cash only), or free for those aged 12 and under, which gets you access to the event and the botanical gardens. There is no parking at the gardens, but shuttle buses will run every 15 minutes between the Botanical Gardens and the West Parkade and the Fraser River Parkade on campus.

For more information, visit the UBC Botanical Garden web site.

Dress accordingly for the weather and remember your reusable bags and boxes.

Game-themed restaurant and bar EXP to close at end of June

Vancouver’s video game-inspired restaurant and bar, EXP, is closing down on Saturday, June 30th, 2018.

According to a post on the EXP Facebook page, The landlord informed restaurant management that they must shut down at the end of June. Leading up to the closure, food and drinks are being discounted with the funds going to staff as thanks for their efforts.

So come on down and power up with a Triforce Burger (or sip a Pikachu’s Revenge) while you still can.

It’s hoped, that EXP may be given a 1-UP to re-open at another site.

Source: Facebook

UBC Apple Festival returns for 26th year this October

Grimes Golden
A bag of Grimes Golden apples at the UBC Apple Festival.

Take a bite into fall with the UBC Apple Festival this October! On Saturday, October 14th and Sunday, October 15th, 2017, between the hours of 11:00 am and 4:00 pm, you can sink your teeth into everything apple related at the UBC Botanical Gardens on the west side of the university campus.

Some 63 types of apples are lined up, with 70 varieties of trees for purchase. While a list of cultivars for this year won’t be posted until October, some of the ones served up last year included Ambrosia, Bramley’s Seedling, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Grimes Golden, and Salish.

In addition to the apple sales, this family-friendly event will include an apple tasting, food stalls, a kids play area, crafts, live music and entertainment. Plus, the gardens are open for exploration, with special pricing for the Greenheart TreeWalk.

Admission is $5 (cash only), or free for those aged 12 and under, which gets you access to the event and the botanical gardens. There is no parking at the gardens, but shuttle buses will run every 15 minutes between the Botanical Gardens and the West Parkade and the Fraser River Parkade on campus.

For more information, visit the UBC Botanical Garden web site.

Eat! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival returns fall 2016

The 14th annual Eat! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival is back for another delicious year with a smorgasbord of dining events October 4th through 7th, 2016.

This year there are new experiences designed to get you up and close with some of Canada’s best chefs. 2016 edition of EAT! Vancouver will be highlighted by a Dinner Series over October 4th and 5th, BETA 5 chocolate demo on Monday, October 4th and a Food Trends Tasting Panel on Tuesday, October 5th, the Eat! Harvest feast on Thursday, October 6th, and lastly, An Intimate Evening with Chef Michael Smith on Friday, October 7th. Proceeds from these benefit the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

Unlike earlier years, there is no one central location hosting a marketplace of vendors, restaurants and seminars. Each event is designed to create an a more inclusive atmosphere where patrons get to know their chefs and have an intimate involvement with their creations and techniques.

Tickets for these culinary sessions are available online through the Eat! Vancouver web site.

Fraser Valley Food Show returns to Abbotsford April 2016

Bring your appetite to the eighth annual Fraser Valley Food Show this April for three days full of cuisine, demonstrations and shopping at the Tradex in Abbotsford!

Through April 1st and 3rd, 2016, local vendors will have their best out for sample and sale. Everything from meats and dairy products, to vegetables, sweets, baked goods and seasonings. The Great Canadian Sausage Making Competition is an excellent way to become acquainted with the varieties and styles of preserving and curing meats. Adults can even partake in craft beers, regional wines and spirits in the Grapes and Hops pavilion. The Bite of The Valley pavilion brings a selection of Fraser Valley restaurants all under one big roof.

The Celebrity Stage will host a number of demonstrations throughout the festival to beef up your knowledge in the kitchen. This year’s special guest is the Food Network’s Bob Blumer.

In addition to all things edible, the festival is expanding to include spaces inside and outside the home with the Living Garden and the Spring Craft Market.

Admission tickets are available in advance online through the Fraser Valley Food Show web site or in person at the door.

Apple Festival returns to the UBC Botanical Gardens October 2015

Salish Apples
Bags of Salish apples for sale at the Apple Festival.

If you love apples (the edible kind, not the technology company), then the Apple Festival at the UBC Botanical Gardens is for you. Between the hours of 11:00 am and 4:00 pm on Saturday, October 17th and Sunday, October 18th, you can purchase bags of the crisp fruit, trees, and other apple-related treats.

But these aren’t just your regular Granny Smiths. Over 70 different varieties will be available, with some in limited quantities. While a list of cultivars for this year won’t be posted until October, some of the ones served up last year included Ambrosia, Bramley’s Seedling, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Grimes Golden, and Salish.

There will be a tasting tent to sample an array of some 60 different apples; there’s a separate $5.00 admission to enter. Other free events include educational demonstrations, a food and craft fair, live music and children-friendly activities.

Admission is $4, or free for those aged 12 and under, and gets you access to the event and the botanical gardens. There is no parking at the gardens, but there will be shuttle buses running to and from the West Parkade on campus.

For more information, visit the UBC Botanical Garden web site.

Cool down with Tea Sparrow’s Iced Tea Festival

With summer is already in full gear, beat the heat by stopping off at Tea Sparrow’s first annual Iced Tea Festival. Sample many loose-leaf iced teas from Germany, Canada, and the United States on Sunday, July 19th between 11:00 am and 6:00 pm at the Heritage Hall in Vancouver.

There will be 16 variations of tea available, each having passed stringent quality and taste tests before being served up. Individual teas will be available for purchase, and new Tea Sparrow subscribers will be able to choose their first four teas at 40% off regular price.

Tea Sparrow is a monthly tea club where subscribers receive a box containing a new selection of high quality, chemical-free teas through the mail. The leaves are critiqued and scored by Tea Sparrow’s staff; only the best gets passed along to its members.

Admission to Tea Sparrow’s first annual Iced Tea-Off can be purchased in advance, with 2 for $10 or $10 at the door on Sunday, July 19th. Further details and tickets can be found on Tea Sparrow’s web site.

Kintaro serves up authentic Japanese-style ramen

Kintaro Ramen
Kintaro Ramen on Denman Street.

The thought of ramen shouldn’t stir up memories of dried packets of noodles and boiling water from a kettle. It should be long noodles served in savoury broth with chunks of meat and real vegetables. Kintaro does just that and like a traditional Japanese noodle-house, specializing in tonkotsu, or pork-bone broth ramen.

Situated just off the corner of Robson and Denman Streets in Vancouver’s West End, Kintaro is as close to a traditional ramen shop without having to cross the Pacific. It’s small and almost always busy; a good sign. On some days it’s not surprising to see line-ups outside, occasionally stretching up to the Robson Street intersection. If there’s a line, the ever-attentive waitresses are out with menus and taking orders, so as soon as you’re seated there’s no additional waiting for the food.

The menu may seem limited, but its because it keeps the kitchen focused on providing a consistent and delicious product. The soups themselves are are all made with pork-bone stock and customizable with a rich, medium or light broth and fatty or lean pork cutlets. There’s four main bowls available: shoyu made with soy sauce, shio made with pork stocks and sea salt, miso with a combination of soybean pastes from around Japan and twelve different spices, and spicy garlic with a hot miso broth and ground garlic. Specialty soups are available, with a cold ramen available in summer (June-September), and a ramen with two kinds of cheese.

Shoyu Ramen
A bowl of fresh shoyu ramen.

I usually order the shoyu ramen in medium broth and fat barbecue pork; the fat has all the flavour. Garnished with a heaping pile of bean sprouts and bamboo shoots, diced green onion, a paper-thin square of dried seaweed and a tender slice of pork. The noodles themselves are thin and soft, but not mushy; the sprouts counter this with a bit of a crunch. With the soy sauce mixed in, the broth is a little salty yet not overpowering. The pork can be a little chewy, but that delicious flavour brought out by the barbecue makes up for it. The bowls are big and I’m left with a sea of broth that will slosh around inside me after all the noodles, meat and vegetables are gone. It’s not a bad feeling, it just leaves me full, satisfied and slow-moving.

In addition to ramen and should still be hungry, Kintaro also serves up gyoza (dumplings), hanpayaro (small pieces of barbecue pork), slices of pork meat, kimchi (spicy Korean-style vegetables) and rice.

Prices are relatively cheap – $8.95 for most bowls, increasing to $10.45 for specialty soups. Additional toppings are a dollar extra, with pop at $1.85, local beer at $4.75 and imported beer at $5.75.

Kintaro is located at 788 Denman Street in Vancouver, is open 11:30 am – 11:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday and closed Mondays. Methods of payment accepted are limited to cash and debit; no credit cards. Dine-in only.

Naruto Ramune

Naruto Ramune!
Naruto Ramune!

The wide-world of anime-related merchandise just wouldn’t be complete without Ramune. Over the years, the alien-looking glass bottles have been decorated with labels from Pokémon and One Piece. Last spring, Viz Media added Naruto-themed bottles to that list.

Though Viz Media posted a list of retailers that sold the drink in North America to their Facebook, the Canadian locations were limited to one vendor, JFC International (Canada) Inc., the company handling the distribution in both Vancouver and Toronto.

I lucked out as the Konbiniya Japanese Centre on Robson Street had started stocking them. I grabbed an armful as each bottle bore a different design. There’s Naruto battling Sasuke, Naruto with rasengan, a partial Team Seven with Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi, and group shot of Naruto and his fellow ninjas. Aside from the colourful labels there’s nothing different about the pop inside which still has the classic bubble gum flavour.

Ramune bottles with Naruto labels
Same flavour, different bottle.

For those unfamiliar with Ramune, it’s a Japanese carbonated soft drink sold little glass bottles that are sealed by a glass marble. A plastic plunger is attached to allow the marble to be pushed in so the contents can be consumed. To allow the liquid to flow, the bottle’s neck is pinched so that the marble can rest, sort of resembling the face of an alien when viewed from a specific angle. There are a variety of flavours, but bubble gum is the most common.