The Christmas season is upon us, which means drinking all the holiday beverages while navigating the logistical chaos of it all. One of the things I love about living in Vancouver during the holiday season is that there is such a wide range of activities to do (which is why I will always recommend that if you are thinking of moving that you come here – you can even check out these new construction homes in North Vancouver if you wanted). For those wanting to take in the sheer beauty of the west coast there’s skiing in Whistler or checking out the light installations at Capilano suspension bridge. As well as a ton of more urban activities in the city, from The Goh Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’, The trolley karaoke Christmas tour, and Santa Claus day parade. I also love taking my younger brother to “Fly Over Canada” because they do a Christmas themed ride, where you fly with Santa and his reindeer across Canada and then land on the North Pole.
December is also the busiest month for events, including holiday parties (in my case, my birthday), finishing up all the work for the year, and trying to get my holiday shopping done. As of the time of this article being published, I haven’t even started yet. Send Starbucks.
Normally I do most of my Christmas shopping online and have it shipped to my condo, but with this year’s mail strike, I ACTUALLY have to go IN TO STORES. Shopping for your loved ones this close to Christmas can feel like a scene in The Hunger Games. When it comes to Christmas shopping for my family, we divide and conquer. My mom and I are constantly texting photos back and forth of gift ideas we see while we are out and about. This year I am super excited that I managed to get hold of Custom Photo Tapestries last month in preparation for the big day, but it’s something so different and not something I can get hold of in the shops. Anyway, thankfully sending photos for her to approve has never been easier, or faster using the Rogers network.
Let’s be honest Christmas isn’t about the gifts you receive, but spending time with your loved ones. The real gift is the friendships you have all year round. I decided to help you take the burden out of planning for the holidays, by rounding up a list of some of my favourite places to “Eat, Drink and be Merry” this Holiday season in Vancouver with your loved ones.
Verre just opened their doors on the water in picturesque Coal harbour, along Vancouver’s Seawall. Verre’s name doesn’t just refer to a drinking vessel, but is also a hat tilt to Douglas Copeland’s tagline for Vancouver, the “City of glass”. Verre presents an amalgam of french and mediterranean cuisine in it’s lustrous 75 seat dinning room. The fall/winter menu created by extolled Chef Liam Breen includes, Chargrilled Octopus with anchovy saffron butter, olives and roasted garlic; and Parmesan-Crusted Veal Chop in a caper Marsala sauce. Verre also has a vegetarian menu including Roasted Cauliflower in sauce grenobloise with croutons; and a Brown-Butter Cavatelli with pistachio, sage and Parmesan.
Classic country italian fare created with the foods of the pacific northwest sets Osteria Savio Volpe apart in Vancouver’s dynamic culinary scene. Since it’s opening 3 years ago, Savio Volpe has gained international recognition from publications like Wallpaper and Conde Nast Traveller. Most recently Savio Volpe, announced the appointment of Melanie Wittas the new executive chef. Witt who has been with the Savio Volpe team since it opened could not be more excited for this new role.
“I am thrilled to step into the role of executive chef at Osteria Savio Volpe,” says Melanie. “It has been an incredible journey so far. The team has become a second family to me, and it’s amazing to see the food we prepare being so well received by guests and critics. I am really looking forward to helming the kitchen as the restaurant continues to grow and evolve.”
When it comes to a traditional steakhouse, it’s a bit of a “mans world”. Enter Elisa, the jewel in the Toptable Group’s crown of restaurants. Elisa, just opened a month ago in the heart of Yaletown, across from sister restaurant and Vancouver institution, BlueWater Cafe. Leading up to it’s open there wasn’t many details about the new restaurant, which at the time was referred to as “Project X”. They really stacked the deck with the opening team of Elisa, taking a bunch of Vancouver’stop industry talent along for the ride, including Executive Chef Andrew Richardson, Wine Director Franco Michienzi, Bar Manager Katie Ingram. Award winning bartender Katie Ingram has created a cocktail list so unique, that I have decided to made my personal mission to drink through it from start to finish.
“Elisa was inspired by the values of sharing memorable moments around the table with family and friends,” says Michael Doyle, President of Toptable Group. “Designed as a response to the traditional steakhouse experience, Elisa exemplifies a refreshing spirit of hospitality through its unique and feminine details.”
At first glance, Laurence and Chico’s new Vancouver cafe feels like stepping inside a Dr. Seuss book. Laurence and Chico is a Canadian based womenswear and accessories brand founded in 2015 by Laurence Li and Chico Wang. Their new cafe located on Bute st, just off of Robson St. is split into a high tea salon and a grab-and-go area. From the coffee cups to the unique packaging which all feature Salvador Dali meets Dr. Seuss artwork, to their instagrammable bathrooms, Laurence and Chico is a feast for the senses. I recently had the chance to do their high-tea service and was blown away by the unique bites created by Chef Tobias, of Rabbit’s foot supperclub and edible canada. If you want to offer a truly unique experience that will have your friends talking through the new year, look no further.
Botanist opened its doors last April and caused a fervor when they disrupted the Vancouver dining scene right out the gates. They also recently received a major accolade of being named as one of the top 100 restaurants in Canada. Have you ever wanted a cocktail built inside a lantern, surrounded by elements from the pacific north west’s natural habitats, they got it. The question is, where do all these ingenious cocktail creations come from? Their cocktail lab. Yes, you heard me right, they have built a cocktail lab into the restaurant to assist in making their unbridled dreams come to fruition.
Located at the foot of Howe St. on the False Creek waterfront sits Ancora Dining celebrating a mosaic of peruvian meets Japanese cuisine. With some of the most incredible dining-side views. The space is enclosed by windows with a neutral palette of whites, greenery and light wood finishes. More nods to incredible design come in the form of the fishnet chandeliers and a soft gold tiled wall. From now until December 28th they will be offering a 3 course pre-fixe-holiday-menu for only $29 per person. If you are looking for a cocktail (or three) to get you into the holiday spirit? Try their Peruvian take on a old classic, Eggnog Peruano.
“Ancora’s Eggnog Peruano is a sweet, creamy libation featuring eggnog, Pisco and Algarrobina syrup. Made from the black carob tree indigenous to Peru, Algarrobina is a sweet syrup similar in texture to molasses that gives this cocktail a sweet, caramel-like flavour.”
Gulasch, Spätzle and Das Fleischkäse Haus are just a few of the delicacies you can enjoy at the Vancouver Christmas Market. Since 2010, The Vancouver Christmas Market has celebrated the tradition of a German Christkindlmarkt down at Jack Poole Plaza. With lots of local vendors offering food, drinks [The mulled wine is V.DANGEROUS 🙂 ] and countless festive photo opportunities.
Bright Nights in Stanley Park is a holiday tradition that is really close to my heart. I loved visiting every year with my mom as a teenager with my younger siblings, queuing up for hot chocolate before boarding the train. The installation of Bright Nights over 3 million lights takes over 8000 hours by over 800 fire fighters over the course of 3 months to complete. Over 200,000 visitors take in the Bright Nights train each year, with all frontgate donations and a portion of the ticket sales going to the BC professional fire fighters burn fund.
The Aurora Festival is Vancouver’s breakout holiday attraction of the year. The festival consists of four worlds, The Disco Den, The Arctic Retreat, The Luminous Gardens and The Whimsical Forest. Expect to see Ice elves, the snow queen (I tried to be casts for this but they went in another direction… ?), Santa Claus and even a Yeti! There’s a little something for everyone at The Aurora festival including a frozen river with light installations, a ferris wheel, a tube park and even live music. Also for the kids (or big kids like me that love some DIY) you can make holiday crafts in Santa’s Workshop, and also write a letter to Santa and drop it in his mailbox, because postal strike.
Looking to finish up your holiday shopping? They have over 50 local vendors onsite, as well as a ton of great food options. The Aurora Winter Festival is located down at Vancouver’s concord pacific place, just down the street from the Parq Hotel. The Aurora Winter Festival will run from Friday, November 23rd, through to Sunday, December 30th, 2018.
From my family to yours I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Make sure to follow along with on my Vancouver adventures via my Instagram account and my#DoTheDaniel adventures on the West Coast & around the world!
Until next time, dare to dream!
Photos by all restaurants and attractions listed above, photographers credited and Joshua Langston for Do The Daniel Inc.