When the rain rolls in, and the sun barely seems to rise before it sets, there’s really only thing to do: turn to comfort food.
It has been said, “The entire point of Autumn and Winter are foods covered in melted cheese.” Wait, has that been said? If not, it needed to be. The second I feel the sweet summer air turn brisk, I begin making plans for braised meats and cheese-covered everything. These, in addition to cups of tea and warm sweaters, are some of my favourite things about this time of year.
Richmond is chalk-full of comfort foods, both of the Asian and Western varieties. Today I will focus on the latter, which means I Googled “Richmond + Mac and Cheese” when beginning my research. This past week, that Google search led my sister and me to Steveston, to feast on three ultimate comfort food dishes at the Blue Canoe.
But first – FIRST! – we stopped in at the Sweet Spot for two of my all-time favourite comfort sweets: their uber-caramelized coconut macaroons (best of all time, anywhere),
and their chewy flourless chocolate cookies with walnuts.
We also tried one of their pretty pistachio madeleines. It felt soooo good to be back in that shop again.
Later in the evening, we wandered down to the waterfront and took a seat in Blue Canoe’s cozy dining room.
Then, we set about choosing the three most happiness-inducing dishes we could find. They were:
Lobster Mac and Cheese
I am very particular when it comes to noodles covered in cheese sauce and baked, and lament the fact that few restaurants do it well. I’m very pleased to say that Blue Canoe knows how to do it VERY well indeed, and here’s why: they use a mixture of aged cheddar and gruyere; the corkscrew noodles aren’t overcooked, and the perfect shape for catchin’ and holding on to the perfectly-seasoned sauce; the top is covered in a crunchy blanket of bread crumbs; and there’s chunks of lobster throughout it all. BOOM.
You know, the mac and cheese was so light, we needed something with a little heft to really feel full….
But seriously, this was fantastic. The fries were covered in chicken gravy, a generous smattering of squeaky cheese curds, and rich chunks of chorizo. There’s really no other explanation necessary, other than it makes sense that Canada’s unofficial national dish would taste so good in cold weather.
Fried Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan and Lemon
Yes, we even managed to sneak cheese in when we ordered a vegetable. For anyone who only ate over-boiled Brussels as a child and still hasn’t overcome over those pale green, sulphuric memories, what you need to do is eat this dish. The sprouts are packed with flavour – made all the more savoury with the addition of grated cheese, and brightened up by lemon juice – and unbelievably good when dipped in the accompanying side of Tabasco. You’ll easily want to eat the entire bowl to yourself, and you probably could, too, if you didn’t also have mac and cheese and poutine sitting on the table.
At first, we turned down dessert. We just had so much cheese in our bellies. But then I was reminded of the chocolate tres leches cake, and we agreed to have a few bites and take the rest home.
Of course, those few bites turned into the entire slice, and then we rolled home. It was comfort food of epic proportions, and I salute Chef Ibarra for providing us with this kind of necessary fuel to get through winter.
There are plenty of other places to get your comfort food on around Richmond, too! I’d suggest Tapenade, Hog Shack, Gudrun, The Highlander Pub, and Two Chefs and a Table which, don’t forget, have chicken and waffles.
And if you’d like to get take your mac and cheese home, the Sweet Spot sells it to go! I wish you all many upcoming meals covered in cheese…..