Follow Me Foodie to World Ocean’s Day!
A recap of the World Ocean’s Day Ocean Wise Dinner at YEW Restaurant + Bar.
There is National Peanut Butter Day, National Pie Day, National Egg Day, but here is a day that actually matters. The other ones are fun to celebrate, but there is definitely some greater good that comes out of this one besides a guilty indulgence. Last Friday, June 8, was World’s Ocean Day which is a global celebration of what the ocean represents and provides.
In honour of the day, Ocean Wise (Vancouver Aquarium’s conservation program) and YEW restaurant + bar (at The Four Seasons Hotel) hosted a World Ocean’s Day dinner prepared by Executive Chef Ned Bell. He created an ocean-friendly seafood menu inspired by the oceans of the world: Arctic, Indian, Pacific, Atlantic, and Southern.
World Ocean’s Day was only half the celebration though. The other half was the announcement and welcoming of YEW restaurant as a new Ocean Wise partner… aaaannnd dead silence. Wait. What?! Is that new information? Or was it only me that thought YEW was always part of the Ocean Wise program? These days Chef Ned Bell and Ocean Wise seem almost as synonymous as Chef Robert Clark and Ocean Wise, so I naturally assumed they were already an Ocean Wise restaurant. I think I re-read the invite to the dinner a million times to make sure I understood correctly.
I have to admit I was a bit shocked that it took so long for YEW to jump on the Ocean Wise board, but better late than never. I think a lot of it had to do with Chef though, who is truly passionate about sustainability. Since his transition to YEW last year the restaurant has changed quite a bit in a short time, and that’s considering it’s a hotel restaurant. Usually I never really expect hotel restaurants to change very much because in theory, no matter what, they have to appeal to locals and tourists alike.
I still haven’t visited on a regular night since Chef took over, but it’s apparent that the restaurant has rebranded itself to a seafood restaurant rather than just a Pacific Northwest restaurant. Who knows though? I could be saying that from all the media I hear and receive, but in that case I might as well add their recent attention to vegan menus. Anyway, it’s no doubt it has transformed into a seafood restaurant with a seafood focused and dominant menu, and a small section of “Not Fish” items.
Since I haven’t visited on a regular night, I wouldn’t say this World Ocean’s Day menu was necessarily representable of what they do on a daily basis. Given the event context and logistics of cooking a set menu for 50 people I would consider this dinner more or less a teaser of what to expect. A few of the dishes will be available on their regular menu starting from June 17.
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
On the table:
- Okanagan gin, cucumber, yuzu, cane sugar, rice wine vinegar, garnished with a BC Spot Prawn
- I really like the cocktails at YEW, but quite often I find them almost mini meals themselves because of all the flavours and ingredients.
- There was a lot going on and it was certainly dynamic and creative, but it did feel like an appetizer and it was bursting with intense flavours.
- It was really bright, citrusy and sweet with a hint of licorice flavour at the end from the yuzu.
- It was more tart than sweet, and bordering on sour and I was pleased it was gin based instead of vodka.
- I actually wouldn’t pair it with anything because there was so much happening already.
- I’m a huge fan of restaurants that put the time and effort into their complimentary bread, especially at hotels when they can easily resort to Sysco “banquet buns”.
- When I heard these were seaweed scones I felt like I was back at C Restaurant. Their seaweed bread is one of my favourite breads.
- The seaweed scones were served warm and they were incredibly moist, rich and very buttery with a slightly crisp exterior.
- The seaweed was subtle and I think there was some lemon zest in it so they were quite aromatic and lemony with a sprinkle of maldon sea salt on top.
- The square shaped scones were rosemary and thyme I think, or maybe just rosemary.
- They were both great, but I prefer the seaweed scones and they matched the whole seafood theme of the restaurant well.
**Pan Seared Qualicum Scallop – 4/6 (Very good)
- Bull Kelp & Sea Salt Crust, Bladderwrack, Kombu & Chili Vinaigrette
- It was the reception appetizer and I didn’t realize it was the first course so I’m really upset I missed the photo. It was one of my favourite courses of the night too.
- The scallop was seared on both sides with a decent crust and it was served with a sweet black sesame crisp and the chili vinaigrette added a nice kick.
- It was salty, sweet, tangy and spicy which is everything I want in a single bite. I don’t have to have it spicy, but I also like spicy.
- There were a lot of flavours going on, but they weren’t overpowering to the sweetness of the scallop.
- There was also a nice play of crispy, crunchy and soft textures.
- Lime, Ginger & Garlic
- Wine pairing: Bellingham, ‘Old Vines’, Chenin Blanc, 2010 from Cape Town, South Africa
- This was my favourite course of the night and I wanted to ask for seconds and thirds.
- The prawns were generously sauced in what seemed like a Japanese style hollandaise sauce.
- The sauce had wasabi tobiko in it which has a green colour, but no wasabi flavour even though it’s supposed to be brined in it. Wasabi tabiko tends to always be like this though.
- The tobiko was likely put in last minute so they didn’t cook and retained their pop and slight crunch.
- The sauce was creamy, rich and buttery with a nice acidity of lime to keep it light as to not overpower the sweetness of the prawns.
- The sauce reminded me of the brown butter tobiko sauce used for Mentaiko Kimchi Udon or Mentai Kimchi Yakiudon in Japanese cuisine, which is one of my favourite ways of enjoying udon.
- I could have had this served with udon and triple the prawns and some freshly grated wasabi and called it a night. I really loved this dish.
- The ginger was faint and I would have loved the heat of either ginger or added wasabi.
- The prawns were sitting on top of sea asparagus which were tender yet still crunchy and they carried a natural briney flavour which complemented the prawns so well.
- There was a lot of sauce left even after rolling my prawns in it so I ended up soaking up the rest with the warm seaweed scones.
- It was almost like a Japanese seafood eggs benedict and I started craving a poached egg.
- The only thing missing were the prawn heads and I thought they would come deep fried served on the side. I would have eaten them sautéed or even sashimi too.
- Turns out there was a mistake in execution which prevented the heads from being served, but they were supposed to be served deep fried… damn it.
- Sweet & Sour Cherries, Beets, Radishes & Micro Carrots
- Wine pairing: Foppiano, Pinot Noir, 2009 from Russion River, Sonoma, California
- I always like a crispy fish skin, but I bet more than half the people would have sent it back if it came with the skin… unless they were Asian. I’m kidding… but not really.
- Halibut is in season, but it’s such a tricky fish because it’s pretty bland and so easy to overcook.
- It had a decently seared crust, but only on one side.
- It could have used a bit more seasoning, but at least it had the sauce.
- Usually I prefer it smoked for infused flavour or poached in olive oil, but it flaked quite nicely and was pretty moist considering it was roasted.
- The sauce was made from the natural juices of the cherries and beets and overall it was a very simple, light and summery dish.
- The micro carrots were still crunchy, but very well sourced and they had such a natural sweetness and good flavour. I was curious to ask for their supplier.
- Purple Potato Salad, Fresh Peas, Chimichurri
- Wine pairing: Vasse Felix, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 from Margaret River, Australia
- It was a classic surf and turf.
- When serving the same dish to 50 people at once, there is bound to be 1-2 steaks and lobsters that get overcooked… and I happened to get one.
- I was happy to see that the steak got upgraded from the original flank steak to a ribeye though, but unfortunately mine was an overcooked one.
- The lobster was also on the chewy side, but I liked the quality of the potatoes and fresh green peas.
- The smashed potatoes were really buttery and creamy and they also had their skins which is always desired for me.
- The chimchurri sauce had a good amount of lime and spice and I could really taste the fresh parsley and perhaps cilantro in it too.
- Although I liked getting the ribeye, the sauce probably would have went even better with a thinly sliced flank steak.
- Personally I just prefer ribeyes with heavier sauces like a traditional demi glace or mushroom jus; but since it was showcasing the Southern Ocean, the chimchurri was well suited for the theme.
- To be honest, I would pretty much never order a steak at a seafood restaurant anyway, just like I would never really order seafood at a steakhouse.
- Rhubarb Preserve
- Wine pairing: Gonzalez Byass, Palo Cortado, ‘Viejo Apostoles’, aged 30 years from Jerez, Spain
- At first I thought this was the dessert course. I immediately started thinking of where I should go for dessert after this. Luckily, it was just the cheese course. *Phew*
- The cheese was served at room temperature which is ideal so the oils were starting to release and it wasn’t dried out either.
- The rhubarb preserve was very fragrant from I think added vanilla bean seeds and I really loved the house made quality of it.
- I think the crackers were the Terra Breads Pecan Fruit Crisps which I love and they went perfectly with the wine.
I know I haven’t mentioned the wine pairings yet, but the wine pairings were stellar and unique. I have to mention this Gonzalez Byass, Palo Cortado, ‘Viejo Apostoles’, aged 30 years from Jerez, Spain though. This was incredible. It was my favourite pairing of the night it went perfectly with the cheese and pecan fruit crisp.
The wine was a sweet sherry and not too syrupy and I could taste caramel, vanilla and a prominent nutty popcorn flavour at the end. It was a very unique wine and I’m salivating just thinking about it. This would have been also great with a Brunost or Gjetost cheese which looks and tastes like caramel fudge.
- Not like your Mama’s
- Wine pairing: Gonzalez Byass, Palo Cortado, ‘Viejo Apostoles’, aged 30 years from Jerez, Spain
- I know strawberries aren’t quite in season yet, but these were Glass House strawberries which are produced in a hot house.
- It was a de-constructed strawberry shortcake and the cake was dehydrated and a bit crisp and also a bit chewy.
- The strawberries were still quite tart and perhaps sautéed with lime juice and lime zest because they were also aromatic and a bit citrusy.
- My favourite part was actually the creamy vanilla chantilly cream which was strong with vanilla flavour and made with lots of real vanilla beans.
- Chantilly cream is better than the typical whipped cream and it has a more luxurious mouthfeel and richer flavour.
- Personally I missed the traditional short cake which lends itself so nicely to the strawberries and cream, but this was still good.
- I think the smear on the side was a basil and/or mint gel, but it wasn’t incorporated in the actual dessert, but I wish it was because it would have worked so well!
- I’m still very curious to come back for an actual plated dessert on a regular night though and I think those would showcase better.
- Their Pastry Chef Bruno Feldeisen was nominated as “Outstanding Pastry Chef” at the James Beard Awards in 1997 and 1998 while he was in New York.