For the second time in three years I managed to be in Vancouver for a conference in March. The week after the halibut season had started again.
The last time I was there I stumbled across a restaurant at which I had one of the most memorable meals ever. I tried it again, with the same order, and it was just as excellent! It struck me that just occasionally everything clicks together so well that it become one of those moments that makes the world seem like a wonderful place, and if I was Ian Fleming I would have included this in my next novel.
So picture the scene if you can, 7pm of a March night when spring is starting to arrive in Vancouver. Its 55deg f, with a light drizzle on the water, and your sitting outside dining alone on the verandah of Carderos restaurant which is built on a pier over Vancouver Bay. There is a buzz and warmth inside, but your drawn outside to the view where the service is equally attentive and friendly. There is a patio heater on, and they have provided a blanket for every seat, with which to lay over your legs. Its cool but your warm and comfortable. The 3 mountains are in front of you over the other side of the bay, and still have snow on their peaks, as you sit facing them over the water you can hear the sea planes make their approach every 15 minutes and watch them land. In between times you can hear the chink of ropes rattling against masts, as the boats gently rock in the harbour in front of you.
Just as 3 years ago you order a cafe latte, a bottle of Pelegrino, and pan fried oysters with horseradish cocktail sauce to start. The oysters are gloriously fresh, lightly breaded, and the tang of the horseradish compliments them. Drawing out the experience you savour the hot coffee and view laid out before you. You have already ordered the halibut. Of course you have ordered the halibut. It arrives in a butter sauce with capers, and is laid over lightly cooked asparagus and and earthy carrot, accompanied by a cup of rice with peas. It is the simplest and best of foods. Light, fleshy, fresh from the sea. My god its good!
You have the splendour of the sea, air, and land all laid in front of you and the finest of food on your table. Life is good.