Summer, you have arrived, and happiness is what I feel.  I plan on spending every available moment outside with you, basking in your warmth and soaking in some of that lucrative Vitamin D, all of course under the protection of my body-guard, Mr. Sunscreen.  The above photo was taken as part of a wedding present for friends of mine getting married today in Cartagena, Colombia, and I thought it captured the weekend sentiment quite well.  So first and foremost, thanks for coming summer, and congratulations Suzie and Andres!  I LOVE YOU!

During July and August, I want nothing more than copious amounts of fruit for breakfast (hey-o BC cherries), salad for lunch, BBQ for dinner, and ice cream at any and all points in between.  So far, this plan is working.

I’ve come to Richmond for a weekend stay-cation, and am generously being put up by the Marriott Hotel.  As a hostel-going backpacker for most of my adult life, I cannot tell you the thrill I experienced upon walking into my beautiful room – one that does not include bunkbeds or roommates – and falling backwards onto the freshly-made, stark-white, King-size bed.  Marriott, you are the best.

I arrived and realized I was starving, so instead of waiting for dinner, I headed into The American Grille for a late lunch.  The hotel’s restaurant is relatively casual, with attentive and professional service.  I went with my server Randy’s suggestion of the Crispy Crab Spring Rolls ($11) and the Spicy Prawn and Avocado Salad ($14.50).  

Not necessarily all, but some of the seafood on the American Grille’s menu is Oceanwise, and for that I salute them.  My three crab spring rolls arrived with slaw on the side and a sweet chili dip.  The slaw was traditional – carrot, cabbage, and raisins – but not drenched in mayo, which I appreciated.  The rolls themselves were relatively light for having been deep-fried, but I found the crab was overwhelmed by the richness of the oil, the wrapper, and the other fillings.  Dipped in the sauce they were crunchy and satisfying, but not particularly memorable for the crab.

The salad, however, was everything I wanted on a hot day and more.  With cold-water prawns, fresh papaya, avocados, red onion, frisée, and watercress in a spicy/sweet dressing, it was an edible example of why summer exists.  The papaya was soft and sweet, the prawns cooked well, the avocado perfectly ripe, and the dressing had just the right amount of chili.  The only changes I would have made would be to add something salty and crunchy, and to tear up the watercress a little more.  Forgive me, but after having fought with watercress in various kitchens over the years, I have a bit of a grudge against it.  That stuff can be so darn woody.

The salad was filling, so I waited until later in the evening to pop back in and treat myself to the flourless Chocolate Decadence Cake with ganache and raspberry coulis ($7).  It was actually less rich than I thought it would be, so I finished of the generous portion with no problems at all!

I enjoyed my summer-y salad so much, and wouldn’t mind returning on a rainy day to try their Steak and Blue Cheese Salad.  But no more talk of rain – summer’s here!  What are your plans?  Here’s my new favourite song – I hope it brings you joy as you pack your own bag for the beach.  Have a great weekend, everyone.

The American Grille

7571 Westminster Highway