For almost a dozen years HG and BSK owned some beautiful Vancouver dwellings (a duplex loft in an old church blessed with spectacular views, a modernist architect’s loft, a steel and glass town house) and spent much time in that glorious city. Vancouver is a tantalizing blend of Canada and Asia. The center of this foodcentric town is the Public Market on Granville Island. Great fruit and vegetables. Every type of fish, shellfish, charcuterie, baguettes, pastry, pasta, cheese, etc., etc. All food fantasies are fulfilled in this joyous bustling space.
Vancouver is (like Seattle) very moist. Rain can be a steady companion for much of the year. HG enjoyed his rainy, Vancouver mornings at the Congee Noodle House (Broadway and Main Street in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood). This is a big, noisy Hong Kong type restaurant that specializes — you guessed it!! — in congee and noodle dishes. Rain would pelt the windows but HG was comfortably settled down with hot tea and the New York Times and the Toronto Globe & Mail. HG would dip into big bowls of congee (comforting Chinse rice porridge for readers who are unfamiliar) enriched with chopped oysters or shrimp or giant Chinese mushrooms (sometimes a combination of all three). The bowls were sprinkled with salty peanuts. Most of the restaurant diners accompanied their congee with Chinese crullers (HG found them nasty) while HG opted for fried squid covered with fried garlic and hot peppers. Happy minutes would stretch into hours and HG would supplement his Asian breakfast with barbecued pork rice crepes and delicious, thin skinned won tons filled with juicy prawns. Vancouver has lots of great restaurants (Vij’s for Indian/Fusion and Tojo’s for imaginative sushi, among them) but funky, soulful Congee Noodle House retains a special place in HG’s culinary heart.