Restaurant: Wild Rice
Cuisine: Chinese/Modern/Tapas/Dim Sum/Vegetarian
Last visited: July 18, 2012
Location: New Westminster, BC (New West)
Address: 810 Quayside Drive
Transit: New Westminster Skytrain
Price Range: $20-30
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Modern Chinese tapas
- Dim sum/small plates
- Executive Chef Todd Bright
- Contemporary atmosphere
- Seasonal menus
- Good for groups
- Vegetarian friendly
- Vegan friendly
- Dairy free restaurant
- Cocktails/wine list
- Open late
- Waterfront patio
- Mon-Thurs: 11:30am-10pm
- Friday-Saturday: 11:30am-11pm
- Sunday 11:30am-10pm
- Wild Rice – Vancouver location
From cherry pitting to blueberry picking… by the way I would much rather pick blueberries than pit cherries. I love eating them both, but one makes me want to cry.
According to the BC Blueberry Council, blueberries are the #1 fruit exported in Canada. It is kind of ironic that we promote eating local and globalization at the same time, but I guess that’s the law of economics and capitalism. To be honest, I wish we exported a bit less because I can go though 4lbs of blueberries in one sitting, and I’m almost certain I did on this day too. Even the ones I keep frozen are gone before September ends, so less for them means more for me!
Something else I learned this day was that China is interested in importing blueberries from Canada as well, but China only negotiates importing one fruit at a time with each country. So after 7 years of cherry negotiation, blueberries are next! I see your cherries and I raise you blueberries! If the blueberry negotiation is successful like the cherry one then I fear blueberry-less summers. China is a huge powerhouse with over a billion people and I feel like they’ll buy all my blueberries. I’m actually surprised they haven’t figured out a way to grow their own yet… they seem to be able to make everything. Anyway back to blueberries… they have arrived and so has my appetite!
In celebration of blueberry season last year I was invited to Silver Valley Farms and Krause Berry Farms, and this year was a visit to Wild Rice New West. Their first location was in downtown Vancouver and they opened the New West location last year.
For blueberry season they have introduced some sweet and savoury blueberry inspired dishes which will appear occasionally throughout the season. As great as they are to eat on their own, it was nice to see how restaurants are supporting local farmers by incorporating blueberries into their menus.
The restaurant has a beautiful view overlooking the waterfront and the patio also features their own herb garden and blueberry plant. Micro herb gardens, roof top gardens, and patio gardens have been a popular restaurant “trend” in the last couple years and I’m happy to see this trend continue to grow. Pun intended!
I was actually very impressed with the size and look of the restaurant. The Wild Rice downtown location is nice as well, but this one is a lot more spacious and a bit more relaxed and casual with a community feel. The open kitchen is always my favourite part and the seats in front of it are the best in my opinion – it’s where all the action happens!
Wild Rice regularly hosts cooking lessons and demonstrations, and on this occassion I got to experience one of their cooking demonstrations – featuring blueberries!
It was wild for blueberries at Wild Rice and Executive Chef Todd Bright showcased his blueberry specials for the season. Due to the nature of the event, these may not be representable of a regular night so I’m going to comment less and not “rate” them. If you’re interested in trying them I suggest calling the restaurant first to see if these blueberry specials are available.
On the table:
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes
3 Tbsp. Yunnan tea leaves* (any black tea will work)
3 cloves garlic
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 cup coconut milk
salt & pepper to taste
1. Dice potatoes into large cubes.
2. In a pot of boiling salted, boiling water boil until cooked through.
3. Place cooked potatoes in a steamer basket.
4. Place the basket over a pot with the tea leaves in the bottom.
5. Turn the heat to high and heat until tea starts to smoke.
6. Turn the heat off and allow potatoes to remain in the smoke for about 5 minutes with the lid on.
7. Meanwhile, place the coconut milk in a small pot with the thyme and the garlic.
8. Let come to a simmer and then remove from the heat.
9. Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl and strain the coconut milk over them, mash gently with a potato masher or a fork and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Served with smoked potato puree.
- This was my favourite blueberry special I tried.
- Duck and fruit preserves, sauces and glazes aren’t anything new, but it was still good nonetheless.
- A gastrique is a caramelized French sauce usually made with sugar, wine, vinegar and fruit, and in this case blueberries.
- The duck was tender and the fat well rendered although I wish the skin was crispy.
- The blueberry gastrique gave the savoury duck a good sweet and sour contrast.
- The best part of the dish was the smoked potato puree. They looked stiff, but they weren’t.
- It was super creamy and very well infused with tea leaves and that smokiness was strong and finished in the nose.
- The potatoes were mashed with coconut milk and I really liked that smoky sweet contrast with the tang of blueberry gastrique.
- The potatoes ended up being smokier than the duck, and usually it would be the other way around, but I still enjoyed the course.
- Vanilla bean cake, caramel, orange glass $7
- As much as I love ice cream and sundaes, I wasn’t keen on this one.
- Making ice cream with a food processor is kind of a neat trick to do at home if you don’t have an ice cream machine, but in the context of a restaurant I prefer the traditional methods and equipment.
- This ice cream ended up tasting more like a frozen blueberry whipped cream and it was made with whipped cream, frozen blueberries and icing sugar.
- I tend to like custard based ice creams, but this was more like frozen cream.
- The sponge at the bottom was a bit dry and it had the components of a semi-frozen trifle rather than an ice cream sundae for me.
- It’s probably not a dessert I would revisit, but it is a quick and affordable way to mimic ice cream without the machine.
Blueberry Risotto Fritters With Blueberry Ginger Sauce Recipe
I thought this recipe sounded interesting and there is a bit of Asian inspiration with the ginger sauce. It reminds me of a rice pudding meets a doughnut and it’s recommended with vanilla ice cream or gelato served on the side. I would actually serve it with a ricotta or mascarpone ice cream. It would be the love child of rice pudding, doughnuts, and frozen blueberry cheeecake! Although there is nothing wrong with blueberry pies, cobblers, muffins and parfaits, it is nice to see something a little more creative and different.
Recipe courtesy of BCBlueberry.com
1/4 cup Arborio rice
Salt as needed
1 cup Milk
1 envelope (1/4 ounce Yeast, dry)
1-1/3 cups Flour, unsifted all-purpose
Sugar as needed
1/2 cup Blueberries
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
1/16 teaspoon Cardamom, ground
Vegetable oil – as needed
Blueberry Ginger Sauce:
1/2 cup Sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons Fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 cups Blueberries
Vanilla ice cream or gelato as needed
1. In a small pan over high heat, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Stir in rice and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until rice is tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Drain rice and set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, in a small pan over low heat, heat the milk until bubbles form at the edge. Set aside to cool to 100º to 110º F. When cooled, sprinkle yeast over milk and allow to soften for 5 minutes, then whisk until combined.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt; add yeast mixture and stir until smooth. Fold in rice and blueberries, cover, and set aside in a warm place until mixture doubles in size, about 30 minutes.
4. Combine 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon, cardamom, and 1/16 teaspoon salt; set aside.
5. Prepare the Blueberry Ginger Sauce: In a small pan over high heat, stir 2/3 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar and fresh ginger; bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. In a large bowl, place 4 cups fresh blueberries and pour the hot ginger syrup over and stir to combine; set aside.
6. Just before serving, in a medium pan, over medium-high heat, bring 3 inches vegetable oil to 375º F. Make fritters by dropping 3 to 5 heaping tablespoons of the dough at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden on one side. Turn fritters and fry until golden on the other side, about 5 minutes in all. Remove fritters to paper towels with a slotted spoon to drain. Repeat with remaining dough to make about 30 fritters.
7. To serve, toss warm fritters in the sugar and spice mixture. Arrange 4 fritters on a dessert plate. Place another fritter on top of them. Add a scoop of ice cream and top with Blueberry Ginger Sauce.
Yield: 6 portions