Let’s kick this off right away. These are my favourite, they might not be yours.
January – Oysters
So, I bet most of you reading this will disagree with this one because you have all been on a patio enjoying oysters and bubbles. However, I refuse to eat them in the summer months. Pacific coast shellfish is some of the best in the world, when it’s the right season. In the warmer months or when there is a warm current that comes up from the south. The result of this can cause certain shellfish to get a disease called Vibreo. It can cause you to get become extremely ill for a few days. So just don’t do it.
The oysters from the pacific coast are a deeper shell a more briney than the ones from the east coast. They tend to have a creamy flavour with cucumber and sweet undertones. You can go super classic and have them with just some lemon or mignonette. Or you can go to the top, one of my favourite places to eat oysters is at Anna Lena. They serve them with apple and shaved foie gras.
February and March – Cold pack vegetables
These months can be hard for local produce. That’s why I am saying cold pack vegetables. Things like beets, squashes, potatoes, cabbages and other brassicas. So many great dishes can be made with all of these things, such as soups and great side dishes to accompany a wide variety of items. One of my favourites is cabbage with bacon and caramelized onions or roasted red kuri squash with honey and burrata cheese. April – Start of radishes
April – Start of radishes
April can also be difficult for fresh produce however, you can start to see some fresh radishes popping up here and there. Radishes are one of my favourite vegetables, spicy, peppery and add great texture to any dish. A super classic way to eat radishes and quite frankly, my favourite, is with butter and good salt. If you haven’t had a fresh radish with butter and salt, then you are missing out.
May – Lamb
Spring lamb is one of the great ingredients that we have available on the west coast. There are a few farms that produce some of the highest quality lamb I have ever had. Shaw family farms, Saltspring Island lamb, and Yakima Valley Lamb (just over the border in Washington). Lamb can be really versatile, I prefer to use the tougher cuts such as neck, cheek and shanks. My favourite way to cook the neck is to braise it slow with hard herbs and wine. Once the lamb is tender and succulent, I reduce the sauce and serve it with homemade pasta.
June – Peas
What can I say, this might be my favourite ingredient ever. Fresh shelling peas are the best, raw, cooked, whatever. The process of shelling enough peas for a meal can often take me 3 times as long, because I can’t help myself from eating the shelled ones from the bowl as fast as I can shell them. Fresh peas can make a great soup, pasta filling, side dish to fresh fish or meat. They also make a really interesting ice cream.
July – Apricots
Fresh apricots are one the best fruits in my opinion. They are really versatile for sweet and savoury applications. I like to use them in an Italian sauce called a mostarda. You start by caramelizing onions and garlic, then adding the pitted fruit to the pot with wine, some sugar and I like to use a couple different mustards like Dijon, hot and some boiled mustard seeds for texture.
August – Blackberries
Blackberries remind me of Point Roberts. My family owned a cottage down there for about 25 years. I would always pick blackberries with my mom, dad and brother. We used them for many different things; pies, crumble, jam and my dad would soak them in grappa or vodka for the winter and make blackberry liquor.
September – Brussel sprouts
I know that these have kind of been a fad for a while now, I don’t give a shit, they are delicious. If you’re like me, whenever you had them as a kid they were always boiled to the point of being a mushy snot green/brown ball of mucus. However, the times have changed, and now people have started to realize you don’t have to overcook everything. You can always do something really simple like roast them with bacon or brown butter and pecans. We had a dish at Wildebeest on the menu for a little while that way the best way yet I think though. Deep fried Brussel sprout Caesar salad with Parmigiano Reggiano.
October – Apples
Too many varieties to list from BC here. Honeycrisp and Pink Lady are near the top for me. It really depends on what you are going to do with your apples. Cooking and eating apples can be quite different. So, pick the application and then the apple that best suits the dish you are going make. We have some great cideries in BC too, such as Nomad and Windfall. All of these apples are available at the farmers market throughout the month.
November – Garlic
So, garlic isn’t picked in November. However, it does take time to cure and mature. Local garlic is ready near the middle to the end of the summer. Once it is picked, it needs to hang to dry out and cure. This helps the garlic last longer and develop depth of flavour. Garlic can be used for anything and everything. My favourite way is to simply roast it in the oven with a bit of good salt and oil, wrapped in tin foil for about 45 min at 350. Then just eat it with bread and more oil and salt.
December – Clams and Mussels – See reasoning in January as well….
Clams and mussels are great. I prefer clams. We can get a couple different varieties here in BC, but Manila clams are the most common. Sweet and firm with a light briny flavour. Spaghetti vongole is the way to go, 100%. Sautee a little bit of shallot and garlic with a few chili flakes. Add your clams to the pan and deglaze with a little of your favourite white wine. You need to time this pretty well as you want your pasta to be cooked as the clams are just cooked. Add the pasta to the pan and toss well. Finish the dish with some fresh lemon juice and chopped Italian parsley.
About Chef Alessandro Vianello
As Gooseneck Hospitality’s Development Chef, Alessandro Vianello oversees menu development and kitchen operations at all four of the company’s Vancouver restaurants – Wildebeest, Bufala, Lucky Taco and Bells and Whistles – and employs his passion for serving dishes comprising locally sourced and sustainable ingredients that underscore the bounty available to chefs plying their trade in the Pacific Northwest.
For Business Inquiries: Contact me