Shop with a Chef, Carol Chow, Gusto di Quattro

June 2, 2008

After swapping Capilano College business school for Dubrulle, Carol Chow worked under Umberto Menghi and then John Bishop. Following a six-year tenure as executive chef at Hart House on Deer Lake, she moved last year to the smaller kitchen of North Vancouver's Gusto di Quattro. When she has a day off, she loves to browse Chinatown. "Unlike at so many of the markets nowadays, the fish is fresh and reasonably priced." At home, she'll pass on the pasta (she eats so much of it on the job) for quick comfort foods like roasted chicken;  Cioffi's Meat Market and Deli (4156 Hastings St., Burnaby, 604-291-9373) supplies the Cornish game hens for Quattro's galletto al mattone ($29). In the kitchen, her protégés joke with her, but a subtle deference is evident as they prep for her trip to San Francisco for a weekend's dining research. Her eyes light up as she reaches into the walk-in for her cheeses: Galbani Gorgonzola, Il Forteto Tartufo, and Polenghi mascarpone, also from Cioffi's. She unscrews the lid of Casina Rossa Truffle & Salt and sniffs the nutty musk of truffled salt imported by Continental Importers Ltd. (1856 Pandora St., 604-253-3115). For 20 years, she's sourced all her fish (sea bass, P.E.I. mussels, wild salmon) from Deluxe Seafoods (106-366 Kent Ave. S.E., 604-662-7999). She relies on no-last-name Guido, an itinerant salesman, for basil, and on Stoney Paradise's Milan Djordjevich at the Trout Lake Farmers Market (E. 15th Ave. and Victoria Dr.) for heirloom tomatoes. Chow says there's nothing she won't eat, but on further reflection, she reconsiders. "I don't like brain. Something about the texture."

Hot Buy: Celebrity Dish

You may have spent a fortune renovating the kitchen, but this old-school bakeware with the iconic blue cornflowers is a granny-chic addition to any sleek new setup. After a half-century, CorningWare has re-released its Stove Top line, and the space-age casserole dishes are still made of Pyroceram. The glass-and-ceramic hybrid was used originally to help anti-aircraft missiles withstand extreme temperatures, so you can move your durable dishes from stove to oven to freezer without a second thought. Available at Wal-Mart. Walmart.com—S.M.

Mini Review: Deli Redux

The neighbourhood corner store makes a comeback. And what a space: mint-green walls, red paper lanterns dangling from the high ceiling, and a counter made from a hunk of reclaimed California redwood. Before opening the Wilder Snail this spring, the owners (formerly of Monsoon) carefully researched locals’ tastes, creating an inventory to reflect what’s happening in gentrifying-like-mad Strathcona. The result: a mix of basic, mostly organic groceries (produce from Discovery Organics, apple ciders from Santa Cruz), opposite a traditional Italian coffee bar and sandwich case stocked with assorted panini from Drive mainstay La Grotta del Formaggio—the bocconcini, sun-dried tomato, and eggplant is excellent. 799 Keefer St., 604-216-0640—Rosemary Poole

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