“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step” – Lao Tzu
And so the journey, or rather, the quest for Vancouver’s finest crème brulée has taken me to familiar and unfamiliar places. The single step that started the journey began at the Glowbal Restaurant with their Crème Brulée Shooter – an alcoholic crème brulée dream come true. Bacon on a crème brulée? Well, that was what Pastry Chef at Society had to offer – the Maple Bacon Crème Brulée. On my third stop, French pastry chef Thierry Busset used Italian amarena cherries for his creation the Amarena Crème Brulée. The Citrus Crème Brulée proved to be my toughest assignment to date, after demonstrating my negotiating skills, I was able to taste this Christmas-inspired crème brulée at the Terminal City Club. During my last crème brulée quest, I went back to a place that evoked a lot of memories as well as a crème brulée made from sake kasu – the Sake Kasu Brulée.
My latest quest leads me to East Hastings in a local restaurant that was sticking to its traditions in creating their own version of the crème brulée.
Episode 6 – Grand Marnier Finale
Image cutline: Chef Brad Miller delivers the perfect ending to the six weeks of the crème brulée quest
Years ago, I embarked on the journey to create Vancouver’s comprehensive guide to crème brulée. After some investigating, several tastings and a little bit of scribbling, it became apparent that no guide would ever be complete or accurate. Crème brulée recipes tend to change on a whim – be it a change in season, or a change in the chef’s twitter status and compiling such a guide would be an impossible task. When I found out a local restaurant was sticking to their original recipe and had no plans of change, I was intrigued. I figured we’d seen enough ‘change’ with Obama’s administration.
Au Petit Chavignol, is a wine and cheese bar based on the beloved ‘Les Amis du Fromage’ cheese stores around town. Located on East Hastings, eight daunting blocks past Main, the tale of a stable and much lauded crème brulée was worth the travel through the junction of Main and Hastings and subsequently Cracktown. When I arrived on scene, the Vancouver Table Tennis Club across the street put me at ease. This was no longer the neighbourhood where you roll up your windows and pray for a green light, I was just outside of Japantown one block East of the Astoria Hotel in enchanting Strathcona.
The restaurant, the fare, the grower champagnes, all exquisite (how can you go wrong with wine and cheese?) For the grand finale, the Grand Marnier Crème Brulée delivered what was expected. A one-two punch of Grand Marnier and orange zest, balanced with vanilla, topped with sugar and burnt to perfection. The best part? This one isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Raj Taneja is part technologist, part entrepreneur, part social media juggernaut and part foodie. He runs urbanmixer.com, publishes a miscellany of his musings at raj.jp and can be found on twitter with the username ‘tinhead.’