by Andrew Morrison | A 20 seat coffee and chocolate house called East Van Roasters is opening up at 319 Carrall St. in the first week of April (right next to Nelson The Seagull and across the street from Pidgin).
Owned and operated by the Portland Hotel Society, the social enterprise cafe comes to us via polymath Shelley Bolton, who we know from The Window and our recent tour of The Only, and Merri Schwartz, recent recipient of a Mayor’s Arts Award, pastry chef extraordinaire, and founder of Growing Chefs! (arguably one of the raddest non-profit organisations in Vancouver).
What can we expect? Roasted in house chocolate and coffee pairings and flights; seating on donated grand fir church pews and vintage stacking chairs reclaimed from an East Van bingo hall, winnowing and nib rooms (like Mast Brothers in Brooklyn, for example); East Van honeys from Hives For Humanity; single origin, made in-house chocolate bars; educational programs; regular cuppings and tastings; the best smell going on the Downtown Eastside (I mean, roasting coffee and chocolate…seriously); and women from the Rainier Women’s Treatment Centre staffing the joint.
Master roaster Doug Graf has a Loring Smart Roaster to play with. The same machine – with the lowest emissions of all roasters – will take care of the chocolate as well. We’ve sampled some of both already, and they’re top drawer (the 70% Madagascar chocolate in particular being a highlight). Bolton actually traveled to Hawaii to train at Madre, Honolulu’s bean-to-bar chocolate company. She’s quickly become something of a chocolate geek with very high standards.
The aim might be to supply Vancouver chocolatiers and chefs with locally-produced chocolate, cacao powder and cacao butter (like Theo in Seattle, for example, only smaller in scale), but the mandate is to create training and employment for the women of the Rainier. And that’s awesome.
You can get a feel for how East Van Roasters will look from the images above (taken by Michelle Sproule yesterday). We took the 7 shots below way back in October, when things were just getting serious.
THE “BEFORE” SHOTS
Simple is when the only complication is salt and pepper | 315 Carrall St. | nelsontheseagull.com | $5
We slipped into Nelson The Seagull last night to check out the Picked & Sprout pop-up dinner team set up for the first of their two Gastown suppers (there’s one tonight, too). Because a pop-up by it’s very nature is temporary and spontaneous – coordination, speed and flexibility are key. The crew took over the space a mere two hours before dinner guests arrived and seriously hustled to transform the popular day-only cafe in to a Spring-themed dinner gig. There are still a few seats left for tonight. Score them by email pickedandscrumped [at] gmail.com for or call 778-318-6406.
The super extra great thing about this meal is that every plate served features a hand-foraged or home-grown ingredient. It celebrates the freshest and greenest flavours of Spring, so think wild mushrooms, the seasons’ first wild flowers, real cultured butter, hand gathered ramps, fresh nettles, fiddleheads, and more.
Saturday April 28 | 7pm | Nelson The Seagull (315 Carrall) | $69 | Details
You know those frightfully backwards asshats of the Westboro Baptist Church? They’re the spotlight-loving geniuses from Topeka, Kansas who picket military funerals and such with hate-filled signs that read, among other rancid things, “God Hates Fags”. Well, they’ve had that line usurped and improved to read “God Hates Bags” by the good people at Revel & Riot, the resource center, news site, and LGBTQ merchandise store that was born in Vancouver (now in Montreal).
Where to find one in Vancouver? Nelson The Seagull | 315 Carrall St. | Gastown