Last night, in preparation for next week’s Vegas culinary extravaganza, I hit one of Vancouver’s top fine dining destinations: West Restaurant on Granville.  Joining me on this special evening – none other than my long-time nemesis: Ashleigh.

She was fashionably late, as nemeses are wont to arrive, which allowed me to peruse the various menus, enjoy a Moscow Mule, and build my game plan…

I opted for a seat at the chef's table which allowed an unobstructed view of the goings on in the kitchen. I was entertained by some wonderful plating techniques but, alas, no Ramsay-esque pyrotechnics.

Eventually, she showed up, offering some lame excuse about traffic and what-not although I’m sure I spotted her not twenty minutes earlier outside Pottery Barn shaking down a couple of school kids for pocket change.

Ashleigh settles in. What is she thinking here? I'll tell you: "Oh, shit yeah. The camera thing."

I decided to go all out – and dragged her along, kicking and screaming, through a formidable feast.  It was the March Tasting Menu for me, but I switched out the sablefish in favor of the risotto, added two pasta dishes, two sides, and a whack o’ desserts.  She went with the dainty Vegetarian Course.

Following our amuse-bouches, we were served our first course: a tender and tasty squid tempura with quinoa, heirloom radishes and salsa verde for me, and some very good heirloom beets with organic garden greens, Salt Spring Island goat cheese, hazelnuts, and saba for her.  We were off to an excellent start.

Round two:

Gala apple and parsnip soup with creme fraiche and horseradish.  I’m a huge fan of parsnips and, in this dish, they married marvelously with the sweetness of the apple.  Wow!
Qualicum Bay scallops with cauliflower, liquorice, oats, and bourbon barrel aged maple syrup.  This was an outstanding dish, one of my favorites of the night.

We were out of the great strong.  Four for four!  But hit a couple of bumps in the next course –

Gnocchi with poached free range egg, cultivated mushroom, and tomato fondue.  The gnocchi were incredibly flavorful but the undercooked egg white was runny and unpalatable.
Tagliatelle with Haida Gwaii sea urchin, fresh fish and shellfish, white shoyu, and wasabi tobiko.  I was really looking forward to this dish but, alas, the ingredients didn’t really come together for me.  I was expecting it to be a little sweeter.  The pasta was also a tad overcooked.

As I mentioned, I also ordered a couple of side dishes: a nice, crispy kale dish and –

Some highly addictive truffle fries!

Then, it was time to move on to our fourth and final savory course.  Ashleigh had the Cannelloni au Gratin with Pemberton potato and leeks, cultivated mushrooms, melted gruyere, and just a hint of truffle oil.  Loved it.  I had the biodynamic aged risotto with BBQ Peking duck, abalone mushroom, and tofu skin which, while good, left me a little underwhelmed.  I’m still not sure what, exactly, was Peking about the BBQ duck.

We supplemented our fourth course with –

What was this again? Ashleigh? Damn, don't recall and it's not listed on our take-home menu's - but if you happen to find yourself at West, bring up this pic on your iPhones when you order. It was fantastic.

Next up, we were served a little pre-dessert comprised of a slice of grapefruit and some sort of mango or apricot pudding.  Ashleigh seemed to enjoy it.

With that minor distraction out of the way, it was time to finish big with not one, not two, not three, but FOUR proper desserts: Pavlova with angel food cake, blood range mousse and papaya in saffron syrup (didn’t like the tartness of the mousse); whole wheat chocolate cake with tamarind cream (the surprising subtlety of the cake was overwhelmed by the tartness – yes, again – of the accompanying coulis); baked apple sponge cake pudding with apple pecan ice cream, maple candied bacon, pecans, and raspberry coulis (I can’t believe I’m saying this but the bacon was the culprit here –  too present in the ice cream and texturally unpleasant); and, my favorite –

Chocolate coconut bread pudding with chocolate panna cotta and panda leaf anglaise. Superb!

I had a bite of each dessert, then sat back and watched Ashleigh plow through the rest.

Why do you think they call her The Cleaner?

We were stuffed.  They cleared away the plates.  Then presented us with a couple of end-of-meal bites…

Come on. You know you want it.
There you go!

A magnificent meal, excellent service, and wonderful company.  A precursor to the Vegas trip, I hope.

As we headed out, Ashleigh celebrated the fact that she’d survived the multi-course mayhem –

Until I reminded her that it was a solemn occasion because I would soon be leaving town.


Well, I hate to admit it, but I’m going to miss her.

Especially when it comes time to sending mail or complaining about my lunch order or not finding me a book shelf for my office.

23 thoughts on “March 4, 2011: Farewell dinner with my long-time nemesis!

  1. Ashleigh looks awfully like someone who would be happy to fly to TO with a pooch in tow for their favorite writer/producer. He promises, as a thank you, to go to any vegetarian restaurant of your choice and not make one derogatory comment about vegetarian food or those who participate. I know it will be tough Joe, but worth it!

  2. Bye, Ashleigh.

    Yummy food pictures. This time I was smart enough and stacked my table with food before taking a look at your blog. 😛 Usually it’s the other way around.

  3. You know, I still can’t figure out how you can put that much food away and not be HUGE. 🙂 Well, looks like fun as always. Will you have an assistant in Toronto? Whoever it is, they won’t be as good as Ashleigh.

    Have a great day!!!

  4. Good morning Joe, really glad you got to have a good/sort of farewell dinner with Ashleigh. Have you given her your new address, so she can send you bookcases and things in the mail? I love her scarf look, very nice on her. I am sure she will miss you as well, and thanks for food pictures. Seems like you have most of your ducks in a row for the new adventure. Have fun in Vegas. wish I were going. Enjoy your day!

  5. Is that an engagement ring that Ashleigh is wearing? Congrats, Ashleigh!

  6. Have you thought about staying in a hotel, temporarily, or maybe even for a while, until you find something better? I highly recommend Staybridge Suites. There are 3 locations in Toronto. They take dogs, and the 1 bedroom feels like an apartment with a full kitchen included. Free breakfast, free wi-fi, free laundry facilities, free workout room and free beer, wine and snacks served Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday nights. The room rate includes furnishings, kitchen cookware, maid service and all utilities. Just a suggestion for you to consider. I stayed in one for 2 weeks while on business and I was sad to go home! LOL

  7. Sounds like a fabulous feast. I will miss the tales of Joe v Ashleigh. You’ll need to find a new nemesis in TO.

    Obviously I am alive. Much better experience than that 1st surgery; however the details of what they actually DID is up in the air thanks to a less than optimal cell phone reception call placed from the doctor to the husband, but Jeff thinks that from what he did understand, the doctor thinks I’m going to be upset by the change taken in surgery (more conservative approach). But since I have no details I don’t know. Feel like I’ve been experimented on by aliens, perhaps the blueberry aliens. I’m supposed to see him on Wednesday. I guess I’ll know what happened then. Headed back to bed. Am really tired.

  8. Hi Joe!
    Enjoyed the food pics! Most of it looked incredible, (except the Qualicum Bay dish which looked like something my cat would toss up; the foam did it). Otherwise, I really love eating scallops. The truffle fries photo leaves my mouth watering!

    Glad you enjoyed yourself and your able dining companion, Ashleigh. It’s very gallant of you to admit you will miss her. She has put up with quite a lot from you, over the seasons. Perhaps the similarity of your personalities explains it? Such as a shared penchant for revenge and practical jokes. Yet, I recall she also instigated her share of adventures. The cookie caper, spiked or not? We may never know.

    So many goodbyes with the added stress of travel and living arrangements… I do not envy you Joe. But I do wish you all success and good luck.

    I eagerly await the re-launch of SGU second half beginning in the US on March 7 – Deliverance! YAY!

    SGU excitement, adventure and intrigue all spell QUALITY science fiction writing, acting and FX for me.


  9. You’re going to miss her more than you’re willing to admit, I’m sure of it. Behind every great supervillain is a lovely nemesis to keep them on their toes.

    I’m sure you will figure out the best solution for moving the doggies. You’ve always been a good “doggie daddy”. We did the across the country move with children three years ago; I feel for you. We drove; accompanied by a neurotic dog, a yowling feline and both vehicles jam-packed with items the movers could not take. Took us 20 hours to get from Atlanta to Dallas. We broke it over two days but still brutal.

    It’s bittersweet to say good-bye but you appear to be doing it with style. We, your readers, would expect nothing less from you and look forward to your assault upon Toronto. 😉

  10. So nice to see Ashleigh! You guys are like Magneto and Prof. Xavier, a rivalry too epic to end.

    Today I got it into my head to have spicy curly fries with my scrambled eggs fo breakfast, with sausage and fresh strawberries. It was so very good. I’ve managed not to eat fries for months but suddenly got reinfected.

    The truffle fries are inspiring me to play with the seasonings on the curly fries.

  11. 🙁 Please make her promise to post to your blog and send her own pics so we don’t HAVE to miss her.

  12. Oh…I liked the Gnocchi and Poached Egg!

    And by the way…this seem appropriate for your relationship with Ashleigh:

  13. Awww! I’m going to miss Ashleigh 🙁

    VIVA Las Vegas!!! Have a safe and fun trip. I’ll be thinking of you each day when I go out on my lunch break and see that big honkin’ sign draped over the side of the Aria…..

    is in the

    Thank you, thank you very much! 🙄

  14. Bey, you’re always eating the best, but I must ask; how much did all of that cost? because me being a poor bastard, I’m some what intimated by all that fancy food (even though it looks delicious). And How can I do what you’re doing (write awesome shows and eat in fancy places to add more weight to my already hulking size)?

  15. @Feel like I’ve been experimented on by aliens, perhaps the blueberry aliens

    Lol.. Kinda reminds me of when I had my Appendix op due to it virtually bursting filling a large portion of the area with pus/bacteria, I had to have a drainage tube fitted for days to remove the excess cleaning fluid/blood/bacteria that they couldn’t get out during the op.
    (The tube was like deep in my body so felt odd when it was removed)

    Not entirely a fan of surgery anymore, no idea what I’ll wake up too haha.

  16. Oh yeah. It’s March. So any idea when we’l be hearing details about your new project, like casting and stuff like that?

    Kinda excited to hear about it myself.

  17. Hey Joe,

    There is always so much to miss when moving…so far away. I love all the friendships the cast and crew of SGU have spoken of. You are so very blest to have spent so much time together.

    What a nice way to say goodbye to Ashleigh. She looks very happy. Pictures were great as always. I enjoy seeing these glimpses into your life. So happy we will be packed along with your other prized possessions! *smiles*

    Best to you Joe,
    Cheryl 🙂

  18. “@SaveSGU The reason we can’t continue SGU is the same reason we can’t continue any of show…unfortunately, not enough viewers.
    about 3 hours ago via web in reply to SaveSGU

    Retweeted by 2 people
    Craig Engler”

    Comments? I think the reason there was not that many viewers was because of poor marketing. My one friend liked SG-1 and SGA but refused to watch SGU. I forced him to watch season one on DvD. It took him two days to watch al 20 episodes. He later informed me he thought it was better then the previous two SG series and that he downloaded the first 10 episodes of season two from iTunes. I wonder how many people are like that and refuse to watch it beacuse it is is bit different?

  19. i watched sg1’s s4 ep ‘chain reaction’. the guy that played general baur was great. too bad his character couldn’t have been in another ep and redeemed himself. he really wasn’t a ‘bad’ guy…

    but anyways, still enjoying my sg1 rewatch! LOVE the show! 🙂

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