Last week I had the opportunity to be Diane’s guest at the 3rd annual SABOR Seafood Festival preview event, and admittedly, my first at the festival! Not only does SABOR feature flavours of Iberian coastal cuisine from Spain and Portugal on a nightly basis, it’s menu is based on using sustainable seafood and certified by Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise conservation program. Starting this Friday, August 5, SABOR’s Seafood Festival will be showcasing an additional menu for the month-long event. Seafood extravaganza anyone?
I’ll be honest, I don’t frequent SABOR too often. It’s tapas-style sister restaurant Bodega tends to grab my last minute dinner plans more frequently. But if you really have a seafood itch to scratch, you’ll need to head over to SABOR for dinner. This year, co-owners Christian Mena and Chef Lino Oliveira have collaborated with Chef Jan Hansen of Hotel Arts in Calgary to serve up the family-style menu. Scroll on for a preview of all the #seafoodporn!
The night started off with five tapas dishes, (oh how I love tapas!). The Sardina Escalivada was a mix of sardines and escalivada, a Spanish roasted vegetable side that is usually served with fish or meat. For this dish, roasted red peppers, eggplant, capers, olive oil, and garlic accompanied the sardines nicely.
The Gambas al Ajillo was my favourite to eat of all the tapas. Why? Because you had to just get in there with your hands, rip off the prawn heads and suck all those good juice out. Graphic, I know, but absolutely delicious! Sometimes Diane’s allergy to shrimp and prawns has major advantages.
The Scallop & Limpet Ceviche was my least favourite of the five. Raw scallop, albeit “cured” in this case, has never been my friend texturally. The limpets, half-shell clams found on rocky shores were a delight though, a stronger flavour that your usual clams.
Speaking of clams, you can never go wrong with the Portuguese dish Amêijoas á Bulhão Pato, clams in a white wine sauce named after a 19th century poet. Me and Bulhão Pato would have gotten along just fine over this bowl!
The only tapas dish without seafood is the Heirloom Tomato & Queijo Fresco Montadito, or simply put, the bruschetta. Bread was baked fresh by Hotel Arts and the heirloom tomatoes were that week’s produce from the 104 Street’s City Market. Absolutely loved the Portuguese fresh cheese alongside everything.
Five dishes into our meal and it already had me thinking strategically of how to survive this Seafood Festival. Thank goodness for meal breaks with a talk from Ocean Wise about sustainable seafood!
Overfishing is the greatest threat in our oceans today and if we want future generations to enjoy the amazing seafood options that we have available today, we need to consciously make the decision to eat sustainably!
Did you know that 91% of Canadians want their seafood to be sustainable, but only 11% buy sustainable seafood every time they shop? How about those who dine out? Do you ask your server, chefs, and owners about where your food comes from? With the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program, they make things a little bit easier for the consumer, the Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is their assurance of an ocean-friendly choice. Better yet, you can download the Ocean Wise app (iPhone only) or search their restaurant listing for their partners! Pretty cool!
The break wasn’t nearly as long as I need it to be, as food started rolling out again. Strategic thinking cap on. I could definitely not skimp out on the Croquetas de Bacalao, poached and pulled Ling cod mixed with a potato purée, rolled and deep-fried into fritters with an addictive piri piri aioli. Piri piri-anything at SABOR is always a must.
Family-style plates was a great way to sample everything, the Caldeirada de Peixe, a combination of fresh sablefish and lobster meat in saffron-lobster tomato broth. Look at that colour! Traditionally this Catalan fisherman’s stew is made with almonds but at SABOR, it’s made with no nuts to accommodate those with allergies.
Our last bites of the night: Portuguese Surf & Turf, smoked paprika charred octopus and chorizo-stuffed saddle of sous-vide Alberta lamb. Migas, black kale, pine nuts, and white navy beans and shallots, were served alongside make a very filling end to the dinner. I’m not sure if the surf and turf worked together for my personal taste, I would have much preferred one or the other as a separate dish! Plus… I’m here for seafood, all surf. No turf! Or turf later.
Leite Crema ‘Dona Irene’ was the collaborative dessert for the night, a Portuguese flan with pecans and raspberries. Oh. So. Good.
Thank you to the team at SABOR for a fantastic experience from start to finish. It was lovely to finally be able to attend the Seafood Festival and I’m excited to bring my mom (a big seafood-lover!) and family to this month’s event.
SABOR Seafood Festival starts Friday, August 5 and goes until Saturday, September 3. Check out their website for more details at the end of the week, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Disclosure: I was invited as Diane’s guest to attend SABOR’s 3rd Annual Seafood Festival VIP/Media Event. I was not expected to write a post or review and all opinions are of my own.