Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Great White North by Northwest, Part I

As previously promised, here is my post on my recent trip to Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR. The trip was for both business and pleasure. I was in Vancouver for business to attend the SIGGRAPH 2011 conference. The stop in Portland was to visit my college friend Alan.

The SIGGRAPH (short for Special Interest Group on GRAPHics) conference was held in the Vancouver Conference Centre which is located on the shores of Coal Harbour. The conference center is an interesting building and is known for an interesting piece of art. The views around Coal Harbour (which also seems to be known as Vancouver Harbour) are simply spectacular. Located next to the conference center is an airport for seaplanes called the Vancouver Harbour Water Airport. My coworkers and I all regretted that we did not have the opportunity to take a tour on one of the seaplanes.

Past the seaplane airport is the Mill Marine Bistro which is a restaurant and bar that overlooks the harbor. My coworkers and I had lunch there on our first day and then later returned to enjoy some of the local beers on tap. The bar features draft beers from the Whistler Brewing and Granville Island Brewing. I tried the Altitude Honey Lager and the Weissbier Wheat Ale from Whistler and enjoy both. It seems that the name of Whistler's honey lager has now been changed to Bear Paw.

I tried three different brews from Granville Island Brewing at various places around Vancouver during my trip. The first was the Robson Street Hefeweizen, the second was a pint of the English Bay Pale Ale, and the last was the Island Lager.

While in Vancouver, my coworkers and I enjoyed several fabulous dinners. The bartender in the hotel bar assured us that Gotham Steakhouse was the best of the breed in Vancouver. It was the only steakhouse that we tried during our visit, but it definitely got our vote as the best. Our waiter assured us that the grass-fed beef available in Canada was much better than the best grade of meat grown in the United States. The restaurant's website tells me their beef is from the prairies of Alberta. Interestingly enough, our waiter suggested that I not get my steak rare which is my usual preference. He told me that Canadian beef is lean, so rare is not sufficient for getting the juices flowing. I acquiesced and enjoyed a fabulous medium rare steak.

The next night, our group wanted seafood. Our hotel bartender again provided an excellent suggestion with a place called Joe Fortes. From what I remember, the raw oysters were fabulous, as were the calamari and beef carpaccio. For my entrée, I had a dish that was the daily special. I believe the fish was sole. It was buttery and sweet which was unexpected. I thought it was an excellent dish which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I enjoyed quite a few different brews while I was in Vancouver. The restaurant in our hotel had Rickard's Red from Molson on tap. I enjoyed several brews at Mahony & Sons, an Irish pub located in the convention center complex which also seems to be called Burrard Landing. In addition to some of the previously mentioned brews from Granville Island, I tried the Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale and the Stanley Park Noble Pilsner. In my tweet about the Stanley Park brew, I stated that it compared favorably to Sam Adams Noble Pils.

On our last night in Vancouver, our team had dinner at Smiley's Public House. It was Thursday, so I enjoyed the steak frites special for $13. That would be Canadian dollars, of course. I also enjoyed Driftwood Farmhand Ale which is a Belgian-style saison.

In a future post, I will cover my visit to Portland which was the second part of my trip.

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