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Eat the Olympics: the eyes of the world turn to Vancouver and its culinary scene

Vancouver's Olympic village awaits its hungry hordes (Photo by Roland Tanglao)

Vancouver's Olympic village awaits the hungry hordes (Photo by Roland Tanglao)

The 2.3 million people expected to attend the Olympics in Vancouver next month can expect more than just snow and ceremony and Sumi. They can also sample world-class food from a city whose gastronomical scene has been on steroids in recent years. Below is our roundup of news coverage from beyond our borders about Vancouver’s medal-worthy cuisine scene.

Possibly the “most gifted, and certainly the most diversely talented, meat man in North America,” Jan van der Lieck has been grinding out sausages and pâtés at his Granville Island Oyama Sausage Company since 2001. Talent runs in the veins of this native German: van der Lieck is a fifth-generation sausage stuffer who apprenticed for more than a decade in Europe before moving to British Columbia.
• Store Review: Oyama Sausage Company in Vancouver [New York Times]

Although McDonald’s locations are springing up in Vancouver and Whistler in advance of the games, Los Angeles–based HUMAN (Helping Unite Man and Nutrition) will be rolling out healthy alternatives for convenience food–loving athletes. HUMAN’s vending machines contain only healthy, performance-boosting snacks, like energy bars, and come with such sleek features as touch LCD screens and credit card payment options.
• Athlete-Approved HUMAN Healthy Vending Machines Launch Just in Time for 2010 Winter Olympics [Euro Investor]

Vancouver boasts North America’s second largest Chinatown, so it is not surprising that Xinhua News recently reported on the depth of the city’s Chinese culinary scene, highlighting a competition to find Vancouver’s best offerings in 15 categories, such as best northern Chinese restaurant, fine dining and Cantonese dim sum.
• Chinese culinary arts celebrated in Vancouver [Xinhua News Agency]

The New York Times also took delight in Vancouver’s abundance of Asian fare, looking at the myriad eastern influences on Canada’s west coast. The most popular fusion seems to be JapaDogs, street-side sausages topped with such traditional Japanese ingredients as daikon and dried bonito flakes.
• Asian Cuisine as Diverse as Vancouver [New York Times]

Vancouver’s growing ethnic diversity is reflected by the prevalence of regional fare from around the world. The phenomenon is hardly unusual to Torontonians, but the L.A. Times recently took notice, documenting standouts from Vancouver’s “smorgasbord of cuisines.”
• Vancouver’s smorgasbord of cuisines [L.A. Times]

Food and Wine’s Nick Fauchald hit Vancouver by bike to test the city’s best new restaurants—a potentially maddening feat, considering that over 150 spots have popped up in the past year alone. Fauchald is selective and hits up only those serving haute fare, like Daniel Boulud’s Lumière and Angus An’s Maenam.
• A Vancouver Dine-athlon [Food and Wine]

Looking for more than clichés and hype, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Spud Hilton criss-crossed downtown on foot in search of both culinary and cultural curiosities, like Davie Street’s hottest souvlaki spot, Stephano’s, and the Café Medina in the Belgian “micro-neighbourhood” of Crosstown, where he enjoyed a cassoulet with fried eggs, baked beans, saucisson de Paris, double-smoked bacon and andouille sausage.
• Vancouver—beyond the Olympics coverage [San Francisco Chronicle]

The Wall Street Journal is quick to point out the bland reality of Vancouver’s core, which is full of brand names “and even a Jean-Georges Vongerichten ‘destination’ restaurant, Market.”  Writer Nancy Keates argues that the place to be is outside the core, in such districts as Kitsilano, where some vestiges of Vancouver’s hippie heyday remain, including the 24-hour vegetarian restaurant The Naam.
• Vancouver Between Medals [Wall Street Journal]

Over 298 of Vancouver’s restaurants, nightspots, attractions and hotels are detailed in the 2010 edition of the city’s Zagat survey, released in time to help Olympic tourists find their way. Relying on the taste buds of 2,721 locals, the book highlights quality food in such categories as Best Bang for the Buck (the West End’s Nat’s New York Pizzeria) and overall Top Food (Ladner’s La Belle Auberge).
• Zagat 2010 Vancouver Guide in Time for the Olympics [PR Newswire]