News

Get in culinary shape for the Winter Olympics

With the Olympics about to begin in Vancouver, we reached out to a host of people who could give us a quick primer on the Canadian culinary scene.

"The bottom line is that any diverse city that has an ocean and a wine-growing region will have unique things," says celebrated Vancouver chef Vikram Vij, whose Indian restaurant Vij's is regarded as one of the best South Asian restaurants in the world.

Here's the cheat sheet of what you need to know.

Serious culinary diversityVancouver is a particularly international city, with numerous cultures — and their cuisines — represented. Pick from near endless options for Chinese and Indian fare to more obscure amalgamations such as Aburi-style sushi (seared slivers of seafood infused with French sauces).

German-born master charcuterist John van der Lieck and wife Christina are a good example. Their once mostly Eastern European shop — the Oyama Sausage Co. — now produces more than 350 sausages and dry-cured meats, including German, Polish, French, Spanish, Ukrainian, Asian and South American variants.

"We started with a very small palette of products and then it just ballooned in the first few years," says Christina van der Lieck. "People come and say my grandpa made this sausage. Can you make it?"

So they do. It's not everywhere you find kazu, pork neck dried and cured with kazu (the mash of sake), leaving a tender bite and a sake flavor.

Candy
Big candy makers know that tastes in sweets vary across cultures, so expect Canada's candy counters to look somewhat different than those in America, says Steve Almond, author of "Candy Freak," a book about the candy industry.

He offers a few Canadian candies to look for.

Coffee Crisp — a chocolate bar with a coffee cream, chocolate and wafer-layered center.

Smarties — basically M&Ms in pastel colors and a harder, sweeter shell. They're also available in Europe, but Canada is the closest they get to the U.S., says Almond.

Big Turk — a chocolate bar with a pink jelly center. "It would never work in the United States," Almond says. "Come on, jelly?"

"It's primarily associated with Quebec, but we have plenty of restaurants that serve poutine in British Columbia," says Christine van der Lieck. It's a favorite after a late night of drinking.

In Vancouver, Asian restaurants such as Pings offer their own take on the dish with a topping of vegetable curry and cubes of the cottage cheese-like Indian curd paneer.

WineWe know that the West Coast in the U.S. is great wine territory. British Columbia is no different.

While some might think Canada is too cold to produce wine, in cooler climates such as Germany wineries flourish near temperate water regions, says wine writer Kevin Zraly, who included Canada for the first time this year in his annual "Windows on World Complete Wine Course."

"(British Columbia wines) have come a very long way, actually, in a very short period of time," he says.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Albert Normandin

    Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    Vancouver is all set to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, and visitors to the city will have a wealth of options to keep them busy.

  • Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    Vancouver, British Columbia, played host to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

    Tourism B.C. / Tourism B.C.
  • Vancouver Becoming Major Destination In Pacific Northwest

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    A couple strolls through Stanley Park on a spring afternoon near the city's main boat marina. One of the city's most visited parks, visitors can also enjoy the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center and zoo at the park.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    Rowers glide past a line of yachts at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.It is said that in Vancouver, it is possible to ski in the morning, sail in the afternoon and take a sunset dip in the Pacific.

    Lonely Planet Images / Lonely Planet Images
  • Image: Vancouver Art Museum

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    Planning to soak up some art while in town? Consider staying at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which is located right behind the Vancouver Art Gallery. The hotel is located on the VIA Rail route for those who plan to travel to the city by train.

    Tourism B.C. / Tourism B.C.
  • Image: Vancouver, BC Scenics

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    The Granville Island Public Market is perhaps the most well-known market in Vancouver. Dozens of vendors offer food-loving tourists and locals produce, seafood, meats, sweets and European speciatly foods.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Vancouver, BC Scenics

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    The steam-powered Gastown clock blows out clouds of steam during its hourly sounding of Westminister Chimes. Gastown is located in the northeast corner of Vancouver, and is known as the birthplace of the city.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia is "acclaimed for its spectacular architecture and unique setting on the cliffs of Point Grey," its Web site proclaims.

    Tourism B.C. / Tourism B.C.
  • Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    Totem poles and other artifacts are on display at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. The museum, founded in 1949, is world renowned for its collections.

    Tourism B.C. / Tourism B.C.
  • Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    While in the city, check out the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. The bridge spans 450 feet across and is situated 230 feet above the Capilano River.

    Tourism B.C. / Tourism B.C.
  • Image: Vancouver, BC Scenics

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    A totem pole decorates Stanley Park in Vancouver. The park covers about 1,000 acres, and offers residents and tourists a wealth of options, including walking, running or biking the 5.5-mile seawall path, a pitch-and-put golf course and more.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Vancouver, BC Scenics

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    A young girl interacts with a sea otter at the Vancouver Aquarium. Tickets for adults cost $22, $17 for seniors (65+) and youths (13-18), $14 for children (4-12) and kids get in free.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    Pedestrians walk by Aritizia on Robson Street, the famous shopping street in Vancouver's west end. In the stretch of three blocks, tourists looking for retail therapy can find stores specializing in shoes, clothes, lingeri, candy, souvenirs and luggage, not to mention hair salons, currency exchanges and restaurants.

    Lonely Planet Images / Lonely Planet Images
  • Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    The Library Square building in Vancouver houses the city's public library.

    Tourism B.C. / Tourism B.C.
  • Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    Patrons eat in the dining room of Six Acres, a pub and restaurant located in Gastown. Six Acres is "tucked in the oldest brick building in Vancouver," its Web site claims.

    Lonely Planet Images / Lonely Planet Images
  • Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    A traditional pagoda sits on the shore of a pond in the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden in the downtown area of Vancouver. Though Canada's third largest city, Vancouver has historically been thought of as the "terminal city," the end of the line and the last remote town before the continent comes to an end at the Pacific Ocean.

    Lonely Planet Images / Lonely Planet Images
  • Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    The Granville Entertainment District is an area in Downtown Vancouver known for its vast assortment of bars, danceclubs and nightlife. The entertainment district is centered on a seven-block stretch of the Granville Mall and immediately surrounding streets.

    Tourism Vancouver / Tourism Vancouver
  • Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre was built in 1968, and was a gift from the lumber magnate to Vancouver's citizens. If you're visiting Vancouver on a Friday or Saturday night, you can catch laser shows to music from Green Day, Radiohead and Pink Floyd.

    Lonely Planet Images / Lonely Planet Images
  • Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    Olympic rings are illuminated in the harbor outside the Vancouver Convention Centre.

    Tourism B.C. / Tourism B.C.
  • Image: View of the Olympic and Paralympic Villa

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    The Olympic and Paralympic Village Vancouver is set on the waterfront of Vancouver.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    The Richmond Oval, located south of Vancouver, served as the long-track speed skating venue for the 2010 Winter Games.

    Tourism B.C. / Tourism B.C.
  • Whistler

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    Skiers and snowboarders gather on top of Whistler Mountain. Whistler was the official alpine skiing venue for the 2010 Olympic Games.

    The Canadian Press via AP / The Canadian Press via AP
  • Image: Johan Remen Evensen

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    Norway's Johan Remen Evensensoars through the air during the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup skiing event in Whistler, British Columbia, in 2009. The venue was the site of ski jumping events during the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

    AP / AP
  • Image:

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    Cypress Mountain hosted the snowboarding and freestyle skiing events during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

    Tourism B.C. / Tourism B.C.
  • Image: Mellisa Hollingsworth

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    Canada's Mellisa Hollingsworth zooms around a corner during the sixth training run for the World Cup skeleton race in Whistler, B.C., in 2009.

    AP / AP
  • Image: Vancouver, BC Scenics

    Vancouver, B.C., 2010

    of

    The Vancouver skyline, Burrard Inlet and Lion's Gate bridge is pictured at sunset. The Lion's Gate Bridge connects North and West Vancouver with downtown. The suspension bridge is 5,890 feet in length.

    Getty Images / Getty Images

The majority of Canada's wineries are located near Lake Ontario in Ontario and the Okanagan Lake in British Columbia. British Columbia is Canada's fastest growing wine region, with the largest number of wineries. Zraly says 2005 and 2006 vintages are good bets.

OystersThe inlets along Vancouver Island are prized for their beautiful oyster beds, which are framed by soaring spruce trees and snowcapped peaks, says Rowan Jacobsen, author of "A Geography of Oysters."

"It's just a spectacular area," he says. "It's the last place of native Olympia oysters in the world."

Unlike those in the Puget Sound and Willapa Bay, the island's southern sisters just across the border near Seattle, British Columbia oysters are a little more homogenous is taste, writes Jacobsen.

"You won't get overwhelming or strange flavors from many (British Columbia) oysters, just a little salt, a little sweetness and, if you pay close attention, often a green apple candy note."

0:00
 
0:00
Your video begins in
0:00
TOP