Meditations

On the meal that turned me into a Foodist


I was chatting with fellow Foodists a few weeks back when someone suggested dinner at the Alibi Room in Gastown.

Alibi Room downstairs bar (by randal-schwartz)

“Oooh!” said I. “I haven’t been there in years, but that’s the place that turned me into a foodie!”

The Foodists leaned in for the rest of the story that I now recount to all of you.

Turning back the clock to the previous millenium…

It’s Fall 1998. My best friend, who was enrolled at UBC’s Arts program, dragged me as his +1 to the ultra-hip Alibi Room for a poetry session. It was nowhere near my cup of tea, but he was into a girl and needed a wing man.  Besides, any restaurant that got me a degree closer to the dreamy David Duchovny was bound to be in my good books. (I’m dating myself, aren’t I?)

While my friend mingled with the artsy folk, I hid away and ordered what was to be my first taste of wild mushroom barley risotto.  Oh….what heaven.  Decadent, oozy, creamy, earthy; an elevation of what I thought to be a boring grain to gourmet heights.  It was served with a decent roasted chicken breast, but the risotto was the star.

Wild mushroom risotto (by tiny bites)

If that wasn’t enough, the dessert hour introduced me to the crackly, creamy, custardy magic that is crème brulée.  I fell even more in love with France after the first taste. It was topped with a single gooseberry – also a fruit I hadn’t previously encountered. All of it was gone in a flash.

Cobre: mango crème brulée (by tiny bites)

I haven’t been back to the Alibi Room.  Despite that, with it being 2009 and over 10 years after this episode, I can still picture the bowl and ramekin vividly in my mind’s eye.  You could say that my road to gastronomic journalism began with this night as Ground Zero.  And even after a decade of additional culinary adventures, I’m amazed that that risotto remains my favourite dish in the world, that crème brulée is the first dessert I seek on a new menu, and that I’m quite partial to gooseberries.  Thank you a million times over, Alibi Room.

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Your turn:  what event was the catalyst to your evolution as a Foodist?

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