This has been a Vancouver kind of year for me. I've had the pleasure of three trips, and largely thanks to Chowhound, not a one without at least one culinary revelation. Let me get the obligatories out the way quickly: Sun Siu Wah, Vij's, C, Tojo's. Great food all around. Special props to Guu if you are into the deep fried fishy thing as I am. Big question mark for Montri's. Perhaps I'm spoiled on California Thai food, but Montri's seemed only competent to me. Certainly good but in no way surprising.
But I'm not here to talk about any of that really. I want to talk about the (Bloody) Caesar, a drink that barely exists below 54-40 and which is really worth the trip north to enjoy. It's basically a bloody mary but sub Clamato for the tomato juice, six the horseradish and add some celery salt. Our friend Karen clued us in to this and so we started ordering it left and right, and each Caesar was even better than the last. And even though we enjoyed it more in proportion as the bar was divey-er, I have to admit that the most sublime of sublime was at C. I'm actually still trying to figure the C version out. It was clearly distinguished by the pickled celeriac, but I don't know if they used a special clam juice or stuck with the Clamato standard. In any event, it was a highlight in a meal full of (occasionally silly but uniformly delicious) highlights (ponzu aspic? ok, sure, ponzu aspic).
Poking around the web, I found this article which may be of interest:
Along these lines, I simply want to add to a note that I put up fruitlessly on the Pacific Northwest board a while back. At a kind of non-descript seafood place on the pier at Florence, Oregon last year I had steamed clams. Afterward, the waiter fixed up the juices which were already delicious with fennel and wine and other good things by adding green Tabasco, lemon, and cracked pepper and served this all in a shot glass. This was one of the best things ever and I finally made it back to have it again and ask more questions. This time I got a bigger glass, an even better drink, and a little information. It turns out that "Tiger's Milk" was brought to Florence by their Peruvian bartender. I don't know if it actually comes from Peru but would love to know. Maybe I'll try another post on this. Perhaps the only thing that could improve it is a shot of alcohol which would take it into a different category of experience and get us back to the glorious Caesar. But anyway, if you're in Florence, drop down from 101 toward old town, take a left at the T, go straight until the road veers left and park. Enter the unassuming restaurant with the blue roof and order a pound of clams off the appetizer menu. The waiter will do the rest.
A couple of other key Vancouver notes: the Tan Tan noodle soup and the preserved fish at Szechuan Chongqing are both great surprises, and Hidemi Japanese Confectionary on Hastings is absolutely not to be missed.