On my first full day in Vancouver, I hoofed the city from one nearly to the next, north to south to west to north to northwest to south again. It is a great walking city.
Granville Farmers Market is where the day started and where it might begin again today. Located in an old industrial area, the market is by far the most impressive one I have ever seen due to the quality of its fish and shellfish. Fruits and vegetables looked good, too, only being imports they lacked the allure of local stuff. A few bakeries, delicious food stalls, etc. The chief complaint? Too pristine, not having the chaos, say, of Reading Terminal or Union Square. But the compensation was the exceptional quality. I was jealous and angry and amazed: Why doesn’t Boston have anything remotely like it? Sad that I didn’t have a kitchen: So at least I bought hot smoked salmon–no refrigeration needed–and huge, dried morels.
Outside the market, I chatted awhile with a man calling himself The Bear. He was giving away taut metal and plastic thingamajigs and talking a mile a minute about his special powers. We hit it off immediately.
From Granville, past condos with huge windows that got me thinking–“Wow, I should move to Vancouver!”–it was a long walk on a few beaches in Kitsilano. Very beautiful, spectacular use of public space, renewed annoyance at Boston’s abdication to the private sector.
On W. 4th, it was a lunchtime visit to Refuel, which I’d read about in the NYT. A very cool storefront, tail to snout pig joint, manned by a heavily tattoed guy. Cold beer and pork shoulder on the first nettles of the season.
From here it was back across the bridge to the West End to check on an izakaya for tonight and then over to the wonderfully named Gastown, which is kind of a cross between the East Village and Mars. Brick streets, fancy shops, countless restaurants, charm that has had its nails clipped and polished.
Then a stroll to Chinatown quite by accident. Nothing there, everyone’s gone to Richmond. We did manage to bump into a huge sidewalk crowd of staggering or numb crack cocaine or heroin addicts selling what they had to get high.
Finally, back to Kitsilano @ 8 and in a car for dinner @ Lumiere, which is probably the city’s best restaurant. Dale Mckay, the chef, is a friend and we were his guests: Crab, foie, halibut, duck, and beef. Certainly the best halibut I’ve ever had. Everything delicious. Fun to try beef from Alberta: thick, great fat content, seared.