How to Make the Most of Your Best of the City Experience

18 things to know before going to VanMag's Best of the City event.

February 23, 2017

By Kaitlyn Gendemann / Photo: Allison Kuhl

Best of the City is moments away (one day to be exact) which means you have just 24 hours to prepare for the epic two hour tasting event. Call us crazy, but with 10 restaurant dishes to eat—get a preview of CinCin’s spinach ricotta ravioli—and 10 award-winning drinks to sip, you need to have some sort of strategy for the night. So we chatted with local foodies Lee Man and Anya Levykh, who are also VanMag Restaurant Awards judges and “Big Night” alums, to get a lesson in navigating the Best of the City tasting floor.

Best of the City

Friday February 24, 2017 | 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Coast Coal Harbour Hotel (1180 West Hastings Street, Vancouver)
>>>>>> BUY TICKETS!


12 Things to Do at Best of the City


1. Do start on an empty stomach.
“You’re going to be a greedy eater [at events like this],” says Man. “Give into it, but definitely pace yourself.”

2. Do make a plan. “Take a little scan of the room before you start,” says Levykh. “Think of it as a multi-course meal: how do you want to experience that?”

3. Do go from light to heavy. “You want to give yourself a bit of a narrative,” says Man. “I think we can expect seafood from Blue Water Cafe and Maenam [often has] bright, light flavours that are nice to start with.”

This branzino crudo with shaved Himalayan pink salt and fresh lemon, made by Cactus Club at Big Night 2016, is the perfect example of what to start with: a light and fresh dish paired with sparkling wine. 

4. Do drink whites before reds. “What’s going to give you a good hint [about whether or not to start with a dish] is the wine pairings,” says Man. “Start with the white wines and make your way towards the heavier ones.”

“Don’t start with a Bordeaux, don’t end with a vermentino,” adds Levykh.

5. Do drink responsibly. “Just because the alcohol is free, doesn’t mean you need to drink all of it,” says Levykh. “Those small pours can add up really fast, so keep that in mind. Just like you pace yourself with the food, pace yourself with the wine.”

6. Do cleanse the Palate. “Some of the restaurants in previous years have done something like a light salad that has some citrusy notes or something that will refresh the taste buds,” says Levykh.

There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a second serving of your favourite dish. “The chefs usually cook more than enough,” says Levykh.

7. Do go back for seconds. “Everyone has a favourite dish of the night,” says Levykh. “As long as you’re not standing in front of the table and hogging it so no one else can get in, [you’re okay to go back for more].”

8. Do forget about the FOMO. “That fear of missing out—suppress it,” says Man. “You will have plenty of time to sample everything.”

9. Do work together. “If you’re going with a group of friends and want to have a bit of fun with it: scout parties,” says Man.

“You can each got to a different station, grab a dish, meet back at a neutral point and compare,” says Levykh. “Divide and conquer!”

10. Do try something new. “Let go of your preconceived notions and eat what appeals to you,” says Man.

At last year’s Big Night event, Chef Vikram Vij spent the entire evening handing guests his vegetarian koftas with fenugreek curry.

11. Do hang out with the chefs. “I always feel like this is a chance to get to know the restaurant in a different way,” says Man. “You’re really getting to see the people who are usually behind the scenes up close—have a chat with them!”

12. Do have a great time. “My thing is just to have fun,” says Man. “It’s an awesome evening. The restaurateurs are there to have fun and you should have fun, too.”


6 Things Not to Do at Best of the City
(a.k.a. Some Notes on Etiquette)


1. Don’t wear perfume.
“Avoid heavy perfumes or colognes—it will dull your senses,” says Levykh.

2. Don’t rush. “The amount of effort and care the restaurants put into this event always amazes me, so don’t rush through it like you’re at a Costco sampling,” says Man. “Enjoy it and really appreciate the hard work and thought that has gone into it.”

3. Don’t loiter. “Get in, get your plate, get out—because then people will do that for you as well,” says Levykh.

Take a cue from this guest and grab just one plate at a time.

4. Don’t load up on plates. “Don’t walk off with five or six plates of food,” says Man. “I think, at most, you can take two plates (for you and your date), but everyone else should be on their own.”

5. Don’t form a line. “If you do see there’s a huge crowd around one table, maybe try another one and come back in 20 minutes,” says Levykh.

6. Don’t carry more than you can handle. “Don’t try the juggling act,” says Levykh. “You’ll end up spilling—most likely on somebody else. Find a table, find a ledge, find a seat and put down your wine glass so you can enjoy the food.”

Check out the full list of participating restaurants, wineries and breweries here.

 

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