The coffee-drinking cultures of Seattle and Old World Europe intertwine at The Wired Monk. Baristas swirl steamed milk into organic, fair-trade coffee drinks, which guests sip beside hand-painted art and a roaring fireplace. Meanwhile, the scent of cinnamon rolls wafts from the bakery case, past aromatic tea leaves by Zhena Gypsy and Mighty Leaf. Red espresso, a roobois tea from the mountains of South Africa, fills caffeine-free lattes with flavours as bold and smooth as a saxophone’s pick-up lines. Healthy treats such as fruit smoothies and gluten-free muffins round out the menu with a touch of sweetness. The sound of tapping toes fills the shop on Thursday nights, when artists such as Harma White and Vaughan McKay flaunt their rock ’n’ roll chops. Large-screen TVs draw sports fans to the couches on game days, and drink specials lure wine lovers on Wednesday nights.
Following her culinary curiosity all the way to Varcaturo, Italy, Tiffany Hudson’s found herself learning dry farming and food preservation. More importantly, she discovered how a dinner can bring a community together. After coming back to the States, Tiffany teamed up with Chef Martin Woods whose resume includes serving as opening sous chef at Bastille as well as executive chef at Re:Public. Together, the two created Cassoulet Café, an eatery that serves seasonal French cuisine amid a communal table.
And the collaboration isn’t running short on admirers. Writer Sally Wolff for the Cascadia Weekly praised Cassoulet as “evok[ing] the atmosphere of a country kitchen in France” complete with “heavy plates of well-made food.” These ever-changing entrees have included bacon cinnamon rolls for brunch, ratatouille for lunch, and goat cheese pansotti pasta for dinner, accompanied by specialty cocktails and ciders. Chef Martin also serves up the restaurant’s signature French bean stew bursting with duck and house-cured pancetta.
Along with promoting conversation amongst diners, Cassoulet Café fosters green living. This includes using fresh ingredients from local farms as well as reducing their carbon footprint by 1,200 pounds of CO2 emission. That accomplishment earned the restaurant a 2012 Sustainable Practice Leader award from General Biodiesel, a company named after the first robot five-star general in U.S. history.
When asked where they purchase their meat, the chefs at Bistro 72 can point toward the mountains. From their daily lamb specials to freshly packed meatballs, many of the menu's savoury entrees hail from Ryder Lake Farms. The family farm has partnered with Old Surrey Restaurant, where the bistro is located, since 1984. Today, its cured prosciutto sits alongside sausage, cheese, and Abbotsford duck pâte on the charcuterie plate, and its pulled pork forms the base of a poutine sprinkled with cheese curds and green onions.
Even when they don't look to Ryder Lake for their ingredients, Bistro 72's chefs prioritize freshness in their French cuisine. Their avocado dip derives West Coast flavour from Pacific crab, white wine, and melted emmental cheese. Korean barbecue short ribs and new york strip-loin steak bespeak the restaurant's flair for reaching past its roots, though craft beers and British Columbia wines honour local brewers.
Milo Bigler traces the origins of his passion for food to a childhood spent in the kitchens of his parents’ resort and spa in the tiny Swiss village where he grew up. He went on to pursue a culinary education, eventually winding up in Canada, where he has prepared meals for politicians and royalty. He has opened multiple restaurants, including Calvin’s Café in 1991.
At Calvin’s, Bigler prepares everything from breakfast platters to steak dinners. He crafts sandwiches, makes soups, and tosses salads, each with a tasty little twist thrown in. He enhances his spinach and goat cheese salad with pickled mustard seeds, and polka-dots his open-faced smoked salmon bagel with caper berries. To keep things interesting, he cooks completely different menus at different times of the day, offering unique morning, lunch, afternoon, and dinner menus.