by Andrew Morrison | 55 Dunlevy St. has seen a lot since the Vancouver Urban Winery took it over a couple of years ago. The old railtown address, all 7,700 sqft of it, is home to not only VUW – with its own Roaring Twenties Wine label, retail shop, and 36 tap wine lounge open to the public – but also FreshTAP, the company that brings BC wine to Vancouver’s forward-thinking restaurants serving the stuff on tap. It can be a little confusing with so much going on under one roof, so they’ve gone ahead and rebranded the whole building, sort of as an umbrella moniker. As of this afternoon, it’s called The Settlement Building. The rebrand is just as well, as the place will soon shelter two new companies.
The first of these is a 65 seat eatery called Belgard Kitchen. It’ll offer day/night service, low and cozy hideaway booths, and bar height tables. Overseeing the food program is 19 year Earls veteran, Reuben Major. Together with chef de cuisine Jason Masuch (ex-Brix) and sous chef Mark Reder (ex-Fish Shack), Major plans on serving shareable small plates in the evening (eg. Swiss cheese fondue, bacon mushroom pate) and a larger lunch program that will see sandwiches, chile, soups, salads, slaws, a house special ramen, and a daily crockpot. I looked in on construction yesterday and they were just about to start installing the bulk of their kitchen equipment.
What’s in a name? I had to consult a 20 volume version of the OED to find the answer. It turns out that a belgard came to English (the poets, natch) from the Italian in the 16th century or so, and it means “a kind and loving look.” ”The team felt the meaning captured what they’re all about and what guests through the doors can expect,” The Settlement’s PR person, Kate MacDougall, explained. “It’s their everyday disposition – made easier, I’m sure, surrounded by wine – and their service style.”
Opening Day for Belgard Kitchen is set for the middle of April.
The second new company in The Settlement Building is a microbrewery called Postmark Brewing. It’s being led by managing director Nate Rayment, formerly of Howe Sound Brewing, while the “brew chief” is none other than polymath Craig Noble, who made the engrossing 2007 Tableland documentary (also the brother of JoieFarm‘s Heidi Noble).
Postmark will produce four sessionable beers that will be available for growler purchase/refill, on tap (one presumes) 20 feet away at Belgard Kitchen, and in local beer-loving restaurants around town. If all goes according to plan, we’ll be drinking their first beers in June.
The one catch to it all is that FreshTAP is moving out to make room for Postmark, which matters not to the public because it never provided any on-site services to the end consumer. In the grand scheme of things, however, it’s worth noting that the little company with the big idea of selling local wine in steel kegs to local eateries has already outgrown its nursery (slow clap all around). They’re looking at options for a new and scaleable space as we speak. Good luck, and well done indeed.
Staff Meal is a new column by Ken Tsui. The photo essays will detail the stories behind the family-style meals that some of Vancouver’s busiest restaurant crews get either before or after service.
by Ken Tsui | Before service, the team at Railtown’s Ask for Luigi rallies for their staff meal. Chef and owner Jean-Christophe Poirier and cook Edward Jordan decide to nostalgic for their days together at Pizzeria Farina, Poirier’s sister restaurant. They begin by rolling out some tempered dough while general manager Matthew Morgenstern does his mise en place for a Caesar salad. In the back, Ales, a former dishwasher-turned-kitchen apprentice is on “smoothie duty”. He puts together a different fresh fruit smoothie every day in the chef’s bid for a healthier staff meal. Today, it’s a delicious melange of blueberries, pineapple, mint and blood orange. Within half an hour, a variety of pizzas are passed around, smoothies are poured, and the salad is mixed tableside. A strong sense of family pervades the room as the team takes a moment to enjoy their meal and each other’s company before the first tables arrive.
The GOODS from Vancouver Urban Winery
Vancouver, BC | Two Sommeliers enter the ring, but only one exits with their ego intact. Equal parts ‘Bloodsport’ and ‘Sideways,’ this seminar sees instructors David Stansfield and Lisa Cook pitting their favourite wines against each other in a vicious cage fight for wine geek supremacy from 7pm to 9pm on Sunday, March 30th. You act as the judge and jury over five rounds of tasting in this epic rematch, and you can expect flights of wine served blind alongside tips and tricks on reading labels and understanding aromas and flavours. It’s perfect for novices and enthusiasts alike. Tickets are $40 + GST. Purchase through Vancouver Urban Winery or phone 604.566.9463 to book. Read more
The GOODS from Big Lou’s
Vancouver, BC | The namesake of Big Lou’s Butcher Shop was the long time butcher at Red & White grocery store in Sechelt, on the Sunshine Coast. Lou’s home made burgers, grilled and served up in the backyard, were a favourite summer treat for local kids.
After months of working on testing and tweaking all the ingredients, Big Lou’s Red & White Burger is ready to launch and has been added to the Big Lou’s menu just in time for the arrival of sunny Spring weather. It’s a tribute to those simple, tasty backyard burgers, made with beef ground in house, and topped simply with Iceberg Lettuce, melted processed cheese, house made sauce and served on a soft sesame bun.
The Red & White Burger costs $7.50 including a bag of Miss Vickie’s chips and will be available daily to enjoy at lunch or as an impromptu picnic in one of the green spaces in Railtown. Big Lou’s Butcher Shop is located at 269 Powell St. and is open 7 days a week. Read more
The GOODS from Big Lou’s
Vancouver, BC | Big Lou’s Butcher Shop is ready for St. Patrick’s Day with some housemade Irish specialties ready to be cooked up this weekend. Fresh off receiving another Georgia Straight Golden Plates Award as one of the Best Butchers in Vancouver, we’ve finished preparing batches of our Irish Breakfast and Guinness & Steak Sausages. We’re also stocked up with Two Rivers Meats’ Natural Corned Beef and local beef that’ll be perfect for your stews.
Our “SuperBen” Irish Breakfast Sausage was inspired by our Irish Butcher Ben who craved the taste of the legendary Superquinn Sausages, considered an Irish national treasure. When he complained that he couldn’t find anything like a Superquinn in Canada, we took it upon ourselves to recreate that banger, and went through a number of different recipes before we got one that passed the Ben test. They’re great in a St. Paddy’s Day brunch.
The Steak & Guinness Sausages make for a Bangers and Mash that any house would be proud to serve. We grind three kinds of steak with caramelized onions, spices, Guinness and a very small amount of breadcrumbs to absorb the beer and bind the mix. Who can resist steak and beer in sausage form?
Finally, our friends at Two Rivers Meats have made some naturally-raised Corned Beef which we’ve brought in for anyone who’s planning to celebrate with Corned Beef & Cabbage or a Corned Beef Hash.
Quantities of all these are limited, so come down soon to make sure your St. Paddy’s is one that your tastebuds will remember. Big Lou’s Butcher Shop is open 7 days a week at 269 Powell St. in Railtown. Call 604-566-9229 or visit www.biglousbutchershop.com for more information. Read more
The GOODS from Ask For Luigi
Vancouver, BC | We are excited to announce that Ask for Luigi has extended brunch service to now include Saturdays. Thank you to everyone for making our Sunday brunch such a success! We are also very fortunate to have Chris Giannakos (from the award winning Revolver Coffee on Cambie) pulling shots on the Ask for Luigi Synesso all weekend, every weekend. Join us from 9:30 – 2:30 Saturday and Sunday to enjoy our Italian inspired brunch menu, which you can read in full after the jump… Read more
Railtown-Japantown is a compounded micro-hood that is part of DTES. Its boundaries are Main (some say Columbia) in the west to Heatley in the east and from the railway tracks (hence the name) south to Alexander Street. What was once a thriving industrial zone of warehouses and workshops has become something of a tech/design hub over the last decade. Railway St. itself is now a parade of local fashion houses (Aritzia has its head office here), design shops, tech start ups, interior stores, and even an urban winery. You’ll often find a food truck or three parked hereabouts, too, and a whole lot of Instagramming going down. What does the future hold for it? Either breweries and condos. Probably both.
Vancouver’s historic Japantown, however, is vastly different. Once home to generations of Japanese families and businesses, the area now features only a few remnants of the large community that once thrived there. The history of this cultural enclave is unique, and offers a startling look at the effects of racism, intolerance, and indifference in a city now celebrated for its multiculturalism.
Though the modern diaspora of Japanese-Canadians is now found throughout Vancouver, at one time this neighbourhood was the epicentre of local Japanese culture and business. The site spans from Cordova Street to Alexander Street, between Gore Avenue and Jackson Avenue, just north of Chinatown, with Powell Street as its (former) commercial center. It features several character buildings, primary historic sites, and a handful of municipally protected buildings, each indicative of the neighbourhood’s development – and its subsequent losses – experienced over the last century.
While Japanese (and Chinese) workers had been present in British Columbia as early as the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858, the first “official” Japanese immigrant to Canada arrived in 1877. Following this, an influx of Japanese immigrants came to Vancouver near the turn of the century to work in the booming fishing and forestry industries. While they were a welcomed labour force for local industries in the city, particularly the nearby Hastings Sawmill at the foot of Dunlevy, many white Vancouverites were wary of what they perceived as a failure of the Japanese to assimilate, observing that they had their own cultural and religious spaces, generally did not speak fluent English, and had a perceived (potentially dangerous) loyalty to Japan. Additionally, many non-Japanese fishermen were concerned about the growing majority of Japanese fishing licenses being granted, fearing that their jobs were at stake. The federal government aggressively limited Asian immigration and originally only men were allowed to enter the country, forcing them to leave their families behind.
While many white Vancouverites tolerated the Japanese community, prejudice found a strong foothold in the Asiatic Exclusion League, a racist organization with aims “to keep Oriental immigrants out of British Columbia.” Following the 1885 imposition of the Chinese Immigration Act, which placed a head tax on Chinese immigrants entering Canada, racism and racial segregation had been a common sight across the country and extended the growing Japanese communities. This tension culminated in Vancouver on September 7th when members of the Asiatic Exclusion League rioted in the streets of Chinatown after being roused by racist speeches at City Hall (then located near Main and Hasting).
They marched into Chinatown shouting racist slogans, smashing windows, and vandalizing buildings. By the time the rioters reached Japantown, members of the Japanese community were waiting with makeshift weapons and bottles, ready to defend their neighbourhood. In response to the growing anti-Asian sentiment in Canada, the Canadian Minister of Labour Rodolphe Lemieux and Japanese Foreign Minister Tadasu Hayashi declared what is known as the “Gentleman’s Agreement” in 1908, wherein the Japanese government voluntarily limited its approved number of immigrants to Canada each year.
As white settlers migrated out of the area and into newer, more affluent communities – particularly the West End – Japanese business, cultural centres, and mixed-use buildings developed in the Powell Street area. Shops along Powell began opening in 1890, but the retail industry of took shape later, during the commercial building boom from 1907-1912. Multiple residential buildings, often with street-level shops, became popular in later decades as the boarding room trend developed. These apartments typically housed seasonal workers; many now function as SROs.
Business development in Japantown – which locals called “Nihonmachi” (derived from the Japanese words for “Japan” and “Town”) – culminated in the 1920s and 30s, when local shops and restaurants flourished, and ties to nearby Chinatown also became strong. A shared sense of Asian identity – and likely a shared sense of the effects of racism – joined these communities. Fuji Chop Suey at 341 Powell, which offered Japanese-style Chinese food, is a unique example of the link between Asian cultures during this period, and is heralded as one of the important locales contributing to the area’s rich multiculturalism from 1931-1942. Japantown’s famous Asahi baseball team, established in 1914, won several championships and were a popular draw during the 1930s and early 1940s for the Japanese and non-Japanese communities in Vancouver. In 2003, the team was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ultimately, Japantown and Vancouver’s Japanese population fell victim to the xenophobia brought forth by World War II. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941, a series of legislations were imposed on Japanese-Canadians under the guise of national security. In addition to curfews, interrogations, job loss and property confiscation, all persons of Japanese heritage were forcibly relocated to Internment Camps in remote areas of the province. Their property and belongings were sold, and all mainstream Japanese newspapers and publications were shut down. In 1944, Prime Minister Mackenzie King declared that all Japanese-Canadians were required to relocate to eastern Canada or face repatriation. By the end of the 1940s, however, many individuals had been granted re-entry to the west coast and, finally, the right to vote. The variety of Japanese shops, restaurants, and vibrant community culture in Japantown never fully recovered from these events, and until the resurgence of Japanese cuisine in the 1980s only two ethnic restaurants remained on Powell.
Today, Japantown still retains a few visible reminders of its past, but has yet to be designated as a Historic Site by the City of Vancouver. This means that many of its remaining historic buildings are at risk. In 2013, the 122 year-old Ming Sun building at 439 Powell was threatened when city officials deemed it structurally unsound. Without proper heritage designation, it was up to the local community to save the site and propose restoration, rather than demolition. As a reminder of the rich history of the area and the continued legacy of the Japanese community in Vancouver, the Powell Street Festival at Oppenheimer Park is the largest annual Japanese-Canadian festival in Canada, and the city’s longest-running community celebration since its inception in 1977.
Dock freight crane orange-red; the summer grass in Oppenheimer Park: Cadeaux Bakery salted caramel brownie tri-colour; violet neon signage of Cuchillo; the bright yellow facade of Double Happiness Foods; No. 5 Orange exterior; the fleshy yellow and pink two-colour combo of the peameal bacon at Big Lou’s; Vancouver Urban Winery grey exterior; Railway JJ Bean tri-colour; interior paneling at Ask For Luigi.
GENERATIONAL GUILT OVER JAPANESE INTERNMENT DURING WORLD WAR II
A GREAT VIEW OF THE CITY SKYLINE FROM THE BRIDGE AT ALEXANDER AND MAIN
PEOPLE AT REST WITH COLD BEERS IN CRAB PARK (AKA PORTSIDE PARK)
ALL SORTS OF LOUD AND CLANGY NOISES FROM THE FREIGHTER DOCKS AT ALL HOURS
THE SMELL OF AMAZING THINGS EMANATING FROM CADEUX BAKERY
THE AMAZING POWELL STREET FESTIVAL IN OPPENHEIMER PARK
THE NUMBER 5 ORANGE AND THOSE WHO LURK BY ITS DOOR
RED & WHITE BURGERS AT BIG LOU’S
ALBACORE TUNA CEVICHE (ABOVE) AT CUCHILLO
THE CLUB SANDWICH AT RAILTOWN CAFE
FRESH VEGGIES FROM SUNRISE MARKET
CHICKEN FRIED STEAK WITH COUNTRY GRAVY AT DEACON’S CORNER
FRAT BAT BEER SAMPLER AT THE ALIBI ROOM
A TOUR OF THE WINE TAPS AT VANCOUVER URBAN WINERY
FOOD TRUCKS FOOD TRUCKS FOOD TRUCKS
- The first school in Vancouver, opened in 1873, was the Hastings Sawmill School at the foot of Dunlevy Avenue.
- The Roger’s Sugar Factory at the Port of Vancouver (c. 1890) was the city’s first major industry outside of fishing and forestry.
- Herschel Supply Co. – provider of good bags to quality-appreciative students and world travellers alike – have their home base in Railtown.
- The Alibi Room was once co-owned by actors Jason Priestly and Gillian Anderson.
- The old Hastings Mill site was a hotspot for unemployed and transient men during the Great Depression. These squats and shacks were referred to as the “hobo jungles”.
- In 1986 Railtown residents successfully lobbied for a bylaw to allow artists work/live privileges in warehouse studios, the first of its kind in Canada.
- The Japanese name for the Powell Street area (Japantown) is Nihonmachi.
The GOODS from Big Lou’s
Vancouver, BC | Though it’s not listed on any official holiday calendars, Superbowl Sunday is one of the biggest days of the year for sports fans. Again this year, Big Lou’s Butcher Shop has created a lineup of take-home party favourites to fill the Superbowl weekend with delicious local-sourced and hand-crafted flavours.
Big Lou’s Superbowl lineup includes heat and eat Superbowl Party Packs, Porchetta and Spicy Italian Meatloaf sandwich platters, along with brand-new items like nacho and fried chicken kits, and a delicious Duck Confit Mac & Cheese. Big Lou’s famous chicken wings will also be available, either smoked or hot.
In addition to this menu, all of Big Lou’s classic party platters and specialities like Turduckens will also be available for Superbowl weekend. Call or visit Big Lou’s Butcher Shop to order your locally-sourced Superbowl weekend goodness. Take a closer look after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Big Lou’s
Vancouver, BC | When we were younger, the holiday season was all about presents, but the older we get, the more we discover that its true pleasure is time shared in seasonal feasting and drinking with family, friends and work colleagues. Big Lou’s Butcher Shop is working closely with local farms and suppliers to offer a wide range of delicious, locally-sourced catered and cook-at-home options for every kind of holiday feasting–from work events and parties all the way to the traditional Christmas dinner.
Big Lou’s party platters are a great choice for get-togethers and can be ordered with as little as 24 hours notice. The options include charcuterie, smoked seafood, local cheese and meats from Qualicum Beach and slider platters. Big Lou’s is also able to provide platters of our famous sandwiches for work lunches and parties.
There are many ways to interpret the Christmas dinner and Big Lou’s has them all covered with local, unmedicated turkeys, hams, and geese for classic feasts and a full take-home Turkey Dinner with sides, Big Lou’s offer two sizes of Turducken for Christmas, Southern-style. A wide range of housemade Big Lou’s holiday trimmings like turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing or sausage stuffing will help round out any holiday feast.
Big Lou’s full Holiday Menu is included below and can be found online here. If you have questions regarding your Christmas needs, call (604) 566-9229 or email info [at] biglousbutchershop.com to consult with someone from the Big Lou’s team. Big Lou’s Butcher Shop is located at 269 Powell St. and has delivery options for orders big and small. Read more
The GOODS from Big Lou’s
Vancouver, BC | Holiday party season is approaching fast and Big Lou’s Butcher Shop has created a brand-new range of easy to order catering platters that will bring a big dose of locally-sourced deliciousness to your work lunch or party. This range of options spans gourmet to casual and will take the stress out of the planning process.
The Big Lou’s party platter options include everything from a French-style platter with pâté, rillettes, and other decidedly Gallic treats to meaty Charcuterie Platters and even a Smoked Seafood Platter with a wide range of fresh bounty slow-cooked to perfection. Big Lou’s sandwich fans can choose from a Big Italian Platter with our signature spicy meatloaf sliders or a platter of slider-sized Big Lou’s classics mixed and matched. The complete list of platters is below. Read more
The GOODS from Big Lou’s
Vancouver, BC | It’s still officially summer but, all of a sudden, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. With just a few weeks until the big day, it’s time to get feast planning started. Big Lou’s Butcher Shop is a Thanksgiving destination with a wide range of centrepieces, accompaniments, and full meals, along with expert advice from our in-house chefs, to help make this special dinner delicious.
This year, in addition to local turkeys and signature Turduckens, Big Lou’s is adding a variety of oven-ready prepped and dressed roasts to their Thanksgiving menu. It’s a chance to look like a kitchen master with half the work. Home chefs will also love the wide range of made-from-scratch sides and accompaniments like gravies, Cranberry Jelly and stuffing.
Big Lou’s Thanksgiving range includes:
· Rossdown Farms: local, free range, unmedicated turkeys
· Big Lou’s Turduckens: whole bird w/legs attached (15-20lb)
· Prepped and stuffed Turkeys (~15 lb)
· Prepped Fraser Valley Hams (~3 lb)
· Prepped and stuffed Maple Hills Farm Chicken (~4-5 lb)
· Big Lou’s Signature Porchetta Roast (~3 lb)
· Fully Cooked Dinners: fully cooked Turkey or Ham dinners serve 6-10 and include sides, gravy and cranberry jelly (order by Oct 3)
As an incentive to get planning now, Big Lou’s is offering 10% off all Thanksgiving orders placed by September 30th. Turkeys, Turduckens and full dinners can be ordered by visiting Big Lou’s at 269 Powell Street, by phone at (604) 566-9229 or by email to aaron [at] biglousbutchershop.com. Read more
by Michelle Sproule | The always awesome and super fun Powell Street Festival went down over the weekend in and around Oppenheimer Park. The area was once the beating heart of Japantown; a bustling neighbourhood complete with Japanese shops, groceries, restaurants, rooming houses and more. That was before January 1942, when the community was uprooted and forcibly interned by the Canadian government (with its property confiscated) for the remainder of the Second World War. The festival – now celebrating its 37th year – is an entertaining and inspired combination of traditional and contemporary expressions of Japanese Canadian identity. That means great food (mmm, love me some Mogu karaage), performances, arts, crafts, sumo wrestling, kids’ activities, and much more. It was a ton of good times and an eyeful to boot. Take a closer look above and below.
The GOODS from Big Lou’s
Vancouver, BC | We are looking for a butcher shop assistant; someone who loves everything about meat and can help with all aspects of butcher shop. The following skills are an asset: excellent knife skills; the ability to follow recipes and procedures; the ability to manage time appropriately; cleaning and organizational prowess; great people skills. This is a part-time position that is entry level and will be 4-5 days per week 2pm-7pm, with more hours possible in Fall. Please apply by email – info [at] biglousbutchersop.com – only. Learn more about us after the jump… Read more