Sure does quiet down in the winter here in the Okanagan...It's a real on-or-off proposition. I guess that's what "seasonal" means. Not that I'm complaining, because really, what better time than quiet time to go to Vancouver for some noise time?
Among the many reasons why Vancouver can be disorienting is the steady stream of "action" all year round. Just the other week I stood in the doorway and waited for a half hour for a table at Green Lettuce. (Could you imagine doing that in Penticton at this time of year?) It was worth the wait. Indian and Chinese cuisine is a fine fusion. I had read about it at the totally awesome chowtimes.com (not to be confused with Chowhound).
Chowtimes is also where I read about the very excellent Koon Bo. I had attempted and failed to eat there in an earlier trip. This time we made it.
The food was great...completely solid. If you like Chinese food, this is the place for you. But as great as the food was (and obviously I'm not doing the smoked black cod, salt and pepper spare ribs or the scallops with Chinese broccoli justice) the experience is what stands out.
The restaurant was completely filled. Every single table taken. Most the tables were parties of 10 or more. The smallest tables were tables of 4. I was at one of them, 4 other western people were at the other. This isn't judgement, but fact. It was also interesting to see that these tables of 12 to 16 people were multi generational, with an 80 year spread from youngest to oldest. 4 generations?
While I don't speak Chinese and couldn't tell what everyone was saying, it seemed to be a convivial atmosphere. Lots of talking. Relaxed, but very civilised. Friendly, but not meddlesome. And lots of food. The family next to us (a family of eleven) showed us their banquet menu (in Chinese) and explained his personal embellishments--like live fish to be presented before cooking and butchered in the kitchen.
I can't remember the last time I had that kind of experience at a restaurant.
The winter is also a good time to do some reading. Catch up on the food columns.
Sometimes the New York Times gets it horribly, horribly wrong. Sometimes, however, the New York Times gets it perfectly right.
So do click anywhere on this sentence to read this article about blood and blood sausage--and do so if only for the picture.
But if you're too lazy to do even that, here's a fun quote:
But in American kitchens, blood is the final frontier of the nose-to-tail movement. “It’s 7 percent of the animal down the drain,” said Brad Farmerie, who has taught blood sausage workshops to fellow chefs in New York.7 percent of the animal...can you dig it? What's 7% of 1200lb Angus? That's right, 84 lbs. Divide that by 2.315 pounds per litre and you get 36.285097192 litres of blood. Divide that by 3.78541178 litres per gallon and what do you get? 9.585508605 gallons of blood! (Did I get that right?)
Just about two 5 gallon buckets. That's a lot of kishka! Or a big meal for the Masai! Or the hot new thing in the Okanagan? Masai inspired cow blood served table side.
You heard it here first!