Wooo, Friday, we made it! Guys, if you’re near where hurricanes might hit this weekend, please be safe!
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Okay, back to my usual topic: food. I still owe you guys my 3rd recap post of Vancouver, which will be coming next week. In a nutshell, even saying I was impressed with the food in Vancouver is an understatement. We ate our favorite meal of the trip at a local restaurant called Forage. We were fortunate to celebrate our anniversary + birthday dinner there, and they MORE than delivered and made the experience a memorable one as you’ll see at the end.
Super excited to eat, as always!
Forage is located within the Listel Hotel, right off Robson street, which was conveniently a .25 mile walk from our hotel. You are welcomed by large windows that allow for ample, natural light within the restaurant, and a beautiful, wooden bamboo door that draws you in.
The interior is welcoming and open with a beautiful bar in the middle of the restaurant which garners attention. You also have your choice of an intimate booth in the corner, or open tables by the large windows with natural light.
The term forage refers to plant material, or crops, eaten by grazing livestock. The restaurant has used this term to signify their commitment to local farmers, local ingredients, and minimal waste.
When looking over the menu, you’ll see appetizers ranging from skillet popcorn with smoked duck fat, (which is incredibly addicting, by the way), to a blend of kale and apple chips (a mainstay on the menu), to fresh gnocci.
We had the opportunity to talk with the manager for a while, so I really feel like I learned so much about Forage’s mission for sourcing food as well as making an impact in the community.
I was impressed that each staff member I talked to was well-versed about the ingredients and preparation methods of food.
Forage has been open for almost four years and they follow a 70/20/10 rule. The 70/20/10 standards refer to their commitment to sourcing food locally.
Generally, they try to abide by the concept that 70% of their ingredient comes from the province British Columbia, 20% from Canada as a whole, and very little (10%) from outside of Canada.
Not only do they source local and organic wines, but they have a sommelier and offer 8 wines on tap.
They also have a fermenter on staff, who does the pickling and makes the drinking vinegars! COOL!
As I learn more and more about nutrition, I’m finding a stronger passion for minimizing food waste. Forage follows a zero waste policy and is focused on reducing energy consumption. They support sharing smaller plates so there is less food waste.
Forage also has a sister restaurant next door, Timber, which allows them to repurpose ingredients for both restaurants to reduce any food waste. Both restaurants provide a different vibe, too.
While Timber is more casual, gastropub and neighborhood spot, Forage is the place you go to celebrate a special event or occasion.
Furthermore, they don’t have any bottled water anywhere, and use a filter system. They also have plans of having a greenhouse on site in the future.
Forage and Timber are both “Chef to Cuisine.” What that means is that the executive chef, Chris Whittaker, actually goes out and sources from the fisherman and farmers, and negotiates prices and products. He takes all different cuts of the animals, so he is not wasteful. Because the food is so fresh and may vary depending on each visit with the farmers, Forage’s menu changes weekly.
They also have a unique way of utilizing these locally sourced ingredients. If it wasn’t for dessert, the foraged and cultivated mushrooms with Okanagan goat cheese and grilled caraway rye bread would have been my favorite dish of the night. It’s apparent why this is a mainstay on their menu. It’s made with three different types of local mushrooms, plus goat cheese. I have an unhealthy obsession with goat cheese, and the way they used it in this dish was amazing. Furthermore, the rye bread is homemade from the chef’s grandmother’s recipe!
Forage is more than just a farm-to-table restaurant. It’s a restaurant that cares about the local community, and cares about giving back, which really struck me. I’m all about supporting local establishments, sustainable farming practices and procurement, and using ingredients in non-traditional ways.
For example, this halibut was caught in Haida Gwaii, an archipelago on the north shore of British Columbia. There are no frozen fish, and you don’t have to worry about a fish traveling thousands of miles to your plate.
Even more respectable than their locally sourced food is their commitment to the local community. They are constantly finding ways to connect with the community, especially over food. Forage donates certificates, helps fundraise for charitable events, and provides catering for events. Even more so, 50% of their filtered water proceeds go to an ecological reserve and education facility.
They are also very involved in the Growing Chefs program, in which their chefs go into schools to give children hands on experience in cooking and growing their own food. From a dietitian’s perspective, what more could we ask for?! These kids are going to eat veggies they never would have eaten otherwise.
Too often, we see restaurants focused only on the bottom line, with much less emphasis on their impact and influence on the community around them that supports their existence. It is so encouraging to see local establishments focused on youth.
Though we may not have had room for dessert, we couldn’t not get it in the spirit of celebration. So by everyone’s recommendation, we ordered the cheese puff. Let me be more specific: The elderflower neufchâtel cheese puff with ice cream, cordial, and Unruly Gin-spiked berries. It was the most delicious dessert I’ve had in a long time. The cheesy fried baked good over a creamy, cold, melty vanilla ice cream is heaven. Absolute heaven.
I couldn’t imagine leaving Forage without eating this goodness. So now, I bestow this knowledge on to you. If you ever go to Vancouver, stop in Forage for the cheese puff because it is the best dessert in Vancouver.
I always say that my favorite part about traveling is the food, and embracing the culture and ingredients where I am. This dinner experience was one of those nights where you just leave happy.
Have you ever had a cheese puff? Did it change your life?
What is your typical birthday treat? Cake or ice cream?