The long wait is over. Campagnolo, the new Italian eatery from the brains behind Vancouver’s Fuel Restaurant, finally opened its doors the other night – and Fondy and I were there for the grand opening. As it turns out, some familiar faces were there as well: co-owners Tom Doughty, Chef Rob Belcham, and Tim Pittman, as well as Chef de Cuisine Alvin Pillay who used the experience gained from a recent year-long culinary journey to Italy to help create Campagnolo’s menu.
Whereas Fuel, its sister restaurant, is decidedly fine-dining, Campagnolo is casual, its interior a little more relaxed, its prices a little more modest. Its lower Main Street location is also a far removed from West Fourth’s upscale neighborhood, but this will no doubt pay dividends down the line when the area becomes home to the 2010 Olympic Village. Oh, and another difference between the two restaurants – unlike Fuel, Campagnolo doesn’t take reservations.
So we got there early, at a little before 6:00 p.m., and were greeted by Tom and Rob who were kind enough to give us the grand tour. In addition to the front dining room, there’s a bar area for those looking to unwind or catch the big game, and some diversely themed bathrooms (Rob has lovingly nicknamed each one). We then took our seats and perused the menu divvied into several of sections – antipasti, ’the Cure salumi, primi, pizza, secondi, and contorni with a variety of selections for each.
As is customary for us, we over-ordered, opting to sample an assortment of dishes with the intention of bringing any leftovers home for next day’s lunch (or, as it turned out, that night’s midnight snack). I started with the octopus salad with roasted red peppers, cucumber, and lemon. I honestly didn’t expect to love this dish as much as I did. And, I assume, neither did Fondy who tried a forkful – then another – then ended up finishing it off for me. The cucumber and red pepper were a wonderful accompaniment to the tender octopus. I also had the “coppa di testa”. The Italian version of headcheese was served with pickled eggplant and, while very tasty, was a little too firm for my liking – in comparison to the homemade prosciutto I also sampled that pretty much melted in my mouth. Fondy, meanwhile, had the house penne served with zucca, ricotta, white bean, and chili. I cannot emphasize how much she loved this dish. And I’d have to second her enthusiasm. The flavor blend of the various ingredients worked to perfection.
For her main, Fondy had the Alberta beef flank steak with salsa verde. Although not my favorite cut (I‘m a ribeye man), it proved tender and tasty although the dish was ultimately undone by overly-aggressive seasoning. For mains, I had the herb agnolotti and the Bianca pizza. The agnolotti, served with potato, marscapone, and sage, was subtle yet accomplished. The Bianca, what my mother refers to as “white pizza”, was bold with grana padanao, garlic, and olive oil, delivering big-time taste and a crisp, tender crust. The secret, I’m convinced, is in the slender potato slices that graced each slice – neither thick enough to overwhelm nor thin enough to be negligible, but simply ideal. I was hugely impressed with this one which, in my opinion, was the best version of the dish I’ve ever had.
To finish, Fondy enjoyed the olive oil cake which was good but, alas, no match for my nutella tart which I nominate for Best Use of a Chocolate and/or Hazelnut Spread in a Dessert. Unbelievably good.
Fondy and I are already eyeing certain menu items for our return visit. At the top of our list: the borlotti and smoked ham hock soup, the tagliarini with pork ragu, basil, and pecorino, and the pork roast with cotechino, cipolinne, and drippings. And, of course, the nutella tart.
1020 Main Street
Check out the video at the end of this entry for a behind-the-scene peek at the B-side of a scene from Infection.
Belouchi writes: “Welcome back to Canada. I was wondering if you can give me some advice on what restaurants to try while i’m in Vegas.”
Answer: Marty G. highly recommend Restaurant Guy Savoy (which I intend to check out the next time I’m in town). I really liked Alex and Daniel Boulod at the Wynn, Le Cirque and Michael Mina at the Bellagio, and, of course, The Cheesecake Factory in Caesar’s Mall.
Quade1 writes: “Did you have any encounters with non-westerner public toilets??
And what are the chances of getting an SGA theatrical release??? puuuuleaze!!!
What price range does a Fuel dinner run you?”
Answers: No to the non-western toilets and, sadly, no to the SGA theatrical release as well. As for Fuel’s price range, check out their website (fuelrestaurant.ca).
JenR writes: “It’s lovely that you (ALL OF YOU) seem to not understand why we’re frustrated with the show and what’s happened with Rodney. […] We’re upset because Keller has become the focus of the show along with Rodney. It’s all about them while the other characters get shoved to the side. Just because they’re your favorites does NOT mean you can only write for them.”
Answer: You‘re right. I don‘t seem to understand the argument that Keller and Rodney have become to focus of the show. I looked at the episode’s I wrote this season. Broken Ties was a Ronon story with secondary stories for both Teyla and Woolsey. Whispers focused on Sheppard, Beckett, and the new team. Remnants was actually three seemingly separate storylines, one dealing with Sheppard, the other dealing with Woolsey, and the third dealing with McKay and Zelenka. I then looked at Paul’s episodes. Enemy at the Gate is a team episode (you’ll have to see to judge for yourself) while The Seed was more a team episode if anything. The attempt to argue that this was a Keller episode really serves to undermine your argument. She had little to do in the episode but lie there as victim. If it had been Teyla in her place and I had announced this would be a Teyla-centered episode, you can be pretty damn sure the Teyla fans would have been up in arms. I then looked at Alan’s episodes. Infection, Daedalus Variations, and The Outsiders were team episodes. The Queen focused on Teyla. Over to Alex’s lone episode, Inquisition – it can be argued that this was a team episode or, moreover, a “show” episode. The upcoming Vegas, Robert’s lone episode, is through and through a Sheppard episode while Brad’s lone early season episode, The Shrine was, yes, a McKay episode. Looking at Carl’s episodes, you have Ghost in the Machine (another team episode), Tracker (equal parts Ronon, Rodney, and Keller), The Prodigal (again team with some focus on Teyla) and, finally Identity (again, Keller as victim but the focus of the episode is more the guest star here). Finally, let’s look at Martin’s episodes. Search and Rescue was a team episode. The mid-season two-parter had three different storylines – one dealing with McKay and Daniel, another dealing with Sheppard and the Travelers, and the third dealing with Ronon and Keller on board the Daedalus). Sure, you can argue that one part (the McKay/Daniel thread) had more emphasis, but it was hardly the focus of these two episodes. And, finally, Brain Storm – yes, a McKay and Keller episode.
As for the argument that the Keller/McKay relationship has become the main focus of the show, let’s chart its development: The Shrine (final scene, McKay admits his love for Keller), Tracker (final scene, McKay and Ronon admit their mutual interesting Keller), The Lost Tribe (final scene, Keller informs Ronon she is interested in someone else), Brain Storm (McKay and Keller’s first date, the relationship is solidified). Again, hardly the focus of the show’s fifth season.
JenR also writes: “Let me also mention that we’ve only gotten two years with Keller. That’s no where near enough time for us to get used to her, for us to really know her.”
Answer: Fans of Ford would argue otherwise.
Breeze writes: “1) With your trip to Japan, how would you rate it overall?
2) I know my family is thinking about going over there for a holiday. But is there any place you would recommend if my family goes there?
Now for some SGA questions
3) Concerning the last SGA episode “Enemy at the Gate”, will the fans get to see (for the last time) a full credit rollout?
4) In the episode that has recently aired “Infection”, does Telya have the ATA gene? If so, since when? Or did Sheppard activate the Life Sign Detector before it was seen?”
Answers: 1) 8 on 10. If I had been able to cover more ground and spend less, it would have been a 10 on 10. 2) It really depends on where your family’s interests lie. 3) I don’t think so. That’s a network call and every indication is they’ll be showing the truncated credit sequence until series end. 4) No, she doesn’t have the ATA gene. I believe it was demonstrated in Rising that someone with the gene can’t activate the Ancient life sign detector. I would argue that it’s more than likely the result of an alteration made to the device, something more easily accomplished on something like a life signs detector as opposed to, say, a puddle jumper.
DasNDanger writes: “When dealing with an ongoing series – one that may last years – how hard is it to write characters, or even develop plots, when you’re not sure who’s portraying those characters?”
Answer: I believe I did answer this question from you (or possibly someone else). It is admittedly much more difficult to write for a character when you’re not sure who will be playing the role. Still, we have to get scripts written and don’t have the luxury of waiting for casting decisions to be made.
DasNDanger also writes: “ In regards to information revealed in Infection, since Wraith ‘exchange fluids’ with their ship during hibernation, can we safely assume they have a symbiotic relationship with their ship? If so, will more be revealed about this, perhaps in the movie?”
Answer: To a certain extent – yes, that is the implication – although this relationship has more to do with maintaining body function while the wraith are in stasis.
DasNDanger also writes: “ C. Todd seemed to link telepathically with his ship in those final moments of descent…is this a correct assumption?”
Answer: Although it did seem like a telepathic link, it’s clear from previous episodes that the wraith control their ships via manual operation.
DasNdanger also writes: “1. Do Wraith need a human or Wraith host to grow a hive ship?
…2. If so, does this individual then become the ‘brain’, or main computer, of the ship?
…3. If not, is this tech – assuming it’s an extension of Wraith biology – controlled by Wraith telepathy, or something else? (This corresponds to #C above.)
…4. What was meant when Keller said she did not have a designation yet? As a ship or piece of technology, or as something else?”
Answers: 1. That’s what is suggested in The Seed. 2. Yes, the brain in much the same way that a brain operates motor function rather than thought processes. 3. See above. 4. As a ship.
Terry writes: “Joe, how many books did you read while on your vacation?”
Answer: One, Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End. And I started David Weber’s On Basilisk Station.
DasNdanger also writes: “I clicked on Marty’s pic (just to get a better look at that should-be Wraith behind him), and…well…it kinda took me to a different page, with a smaller BS audience pic under it…and a Sept. entry pic under that. Are you playing with the WP features again, Joe?? And will we ever get the post/comment numbers back?”
Answer: It’s actually WordPress playing with the WordPress features. As for the post-comment numbers – I didn’t change anything, honest.
Caitlyanna writes: “My current inner debate is whether or not to go on this guided tour of part of Canada for my birthday that involves a train or if I should go to Hawai’i.”
Answer: If it was my choice – uh, Hawaii.
Laura Dove writes: “But Sheppard crossed a line when he woke up Todd just to help control the ship, with no intention of ever healing him or his crew.”
Answer: Prior to this episode airing, I mentioned that it would lay where our various players fell in terms of the wraith. Sheppard and Ronon’s outlook has been pretty consistent throughout and although one can argue against this stance on moral grounds, that’s beside the point. Just because they’re the show’s protagonists doesn’t mean they act virtuously at all times. Some, for instance, would argue that Sheppard was admirable for going back and trying to save his buddy in Iraq. Others would argue he was incredibly irresponsible and point out that his misguided actions cost the lives of numerous individuals.
Ava writes: “1) Do you plan an international team for SGU like there was in Atlantis? I’m looking forward this new series! It’s so difficult to find a good old scifi series in Tv these days. Anything scifi related and creative is very welcomed.
2) Could a foreigner be ever accepted to the team of writers in Canada? (dumb question, I know, but I still have to ask)
3) I’ve really enjoyed Brainstorm. Anyone watched Firefly before writing this one??
4) Any chance that we could meet that other Runner, Kiryk, before the series ends?”
Answers: 1) The Destiny will not be crewed by an international team in the same was the Atlantis expedition was. 2) Sure. 3) We all have. 4) Sorry, nope.
Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “thanks for the heads up re: Chef Belcham’s new restaurant! Looking forward to the review. Is Mr Doughty also involved or is this a solo effort?”
Answer: Yep. He co-owns Campagnolo along with Chef Belcham.
Christelle writes: “I have an indiscreet question: how much did your journey cost?”
Answer: A lot!
Pol writes: “Has there ever been an episode that you guys (you and Paul) have written that, after having seen the finished product, didn’t quite do what you’d intended?
To clarify – if you’ve written something that sets a specific tone and feel and upon airing you find that the ep goes in a completely different direction? If so, was that new direction better than what you envisioned? The same? Worse? Made you scratch your head and reach for the chocolate in consolation?”
Answer: Every episode surprises in some way, either good or bad. Many offer up a fairly equal balance of pleasant revelations and disappointments.