*Pops the world’s least enthusiastic cork*

Welcome to 2017, guys

Are y’all ready to usher in the new dawn of President Trump? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. So let’s eat, drink and be merry while we can. This year more than ever we should forget the usual January ‘detox’ nonsense (really, must I tell you again how your liver works by ‘detoxing’ perfectly well all by itself every single day?) and focus instead on enjoying ourselves. Sure, spend a day or two each week eating super-healthy, but on the whole, dig in and step high, deep and wide. After all, if 2016 taught us anything, it’s that our time on earth can be all too short, and so diving into life’s buffet with our two hands stretched out wide—and a solid plan for stacking up all the good stuff sky-high—is the best course of action.

So here are nine excellent ways to start doing just that...

 

1. Drink some Scotch

LaphroaigOK, this really is a cork worth popping (or a cap worth unscrewing), but finally the world’s No. 1 selling Islay single malt is available in Canada. If you’re unfamiliar with the smoky, peaty salty booze-joy of Laphroaig (and here’s how you pronounce it), prepare to be delighted. Laphroaig Select is “hand-picked by Laphroaig’s Master Distiller, John Campbell, from the finest casks comprising the Laphroaig portfolio  Quarter Cask, PX Cask, Triple Wood and Ten Year Old  creating a subtle blend of peat, oak and sweetness. The true heart of the spirit is drawn from a final maturation in new American Oak caskswhich are rarely used in Scotch whisky maturation. During the last six months of aging, Laphroaig Select rests in the highest, warmest reaches of the warehouse throughout the Scottish summer.” (TLDR: Damn!) It’s available now at the very excellent Legacy Liquor Store and likely behind all the city’s best bars.

 

2. Make a reservation for Dine Out Vancouver

Dine Out food trucks

Foodies may sneer all they like about Dine Out (Jan. 20 to Feb. 5) but I am a fan; after all, what’s not to love about 17 days of wine, food and fun? Now in its 15th year, this festival offers the chance to step out of your culinary comfort zone and try new restaurants for set price points and I love that it fills up our restaurants at the quietest time of the year. And I really love all the cool events that happen under its delicious umbrella.

This year the World Chef Exchange is back with five (imagine my surprise) all-male partnerships with chefs from London, Mexico City, New York/Boston, San Francisco and Galway partnering with five of our best hometown talents.

The popular food truck Street Food City (pictured) is back at a new destination on Robson Street and the VAG South Plaza.

There’ll be a brand new pop-up bistro at the Vancouver Aquarium with chef Ned Bell.

Check out the fun food and drink tours such as the über-buzzed Vancouver Coffee tour or a brunch crawl around one of the city’s most tasty 'hoods.

Sign up for a cocktail master class with one of the city’s most creative booze talents, Lauren Mote.

Discover the true meaning of ‘finger-licking awesomeness’ at Mamie Taylor’s Low Country Pig Roast.

 

3. Dig the Bau-llywood vibes at My Shanti

Baullywood

I'm totally into this. Chef Stefan Hartmann of Bauhaus’s German cuisine meets the punchy spice of Vikram Vij for an Indo-German feast at My Shanti in Surrey on January 16th. The event will be ticket-only and for $99, guests will enjoy a four-course dinner, complete with wine pairings from local wineries. What’s interesting about this—and what many may not know—is that Vikram trained in Salzburg and worked for a while in Vienna (actually where he met the manager of the Banff Springs Hotel, who offered him a job and bought him to Canada) and sure, Austria is not Germany but they share many common points of cuisine. Prepare for Vikram to unleash his hidden European side and Stefan to dazzle with his take on Indian cuisine. Email for tickets: namaste@myshanti.com with the subject line: “Bau-llywood.”

 

4. Check out fun dining and drinking events

Science of cocktails

Dine Out aside, there’s a positive deluge of other fabulous food- and drink-based events this month, so forget your grouchy resolutions to stay in and drink kale juice. Come out and meet like-minded lovers of life at one of these guaranteed fun-fests.

A fantastic event from some of the city’s most warm-hearted folks, tickets for the Science of the Cocktail fundraiser (pictured) are on sale now for Thursday, February 9th. Discover the science behind modern cocktail techniques from fat-washing to using liquid nitrogen in a terrific night where fancy booze meets hands-on learning. All this goes to support Science World’s class field trips for under-served schools in the Lower Mainland (i.e. drinking for a cause)the very best reason! Get your tickets now; this is a terrific event.

Ex-Mamie Taylor top talent chef Tobias Grignon is hosting another Rabbit’s Foot Supper Club on January 8th with David Jackson of Houndstooth. On offer: six courses plus snacks and petits fours for $70 (and pairings for $35). Doors are at 6:30 p.m., dinner is at 7 p.m., and sure you can BYOB, but the pairings are recommended.

Noodle Mania 4: Carb up! Noodlemania is BACK across East Van and Yaletown on Wednesday, January 11th from 6 to 10 p.m. This is your chance to taste all sorts of noodleseverything from chow mein to spaghetti to mac 'n' cheese, pho, pad thai, ramen and more.

Whisky Classique: Telus World of Science transforms into the Grand Whisky Hall from January 22nd to 24th for the city’s annual celebration of the water of life. Whisky Hall "will offer a landscape where Vancouver’s most dedicated whisky connoisseurs can come together to discuss and sample one of their true loves." Live music, amazing whiskies from around the world and good company? This should be superb.

Planning ahead even more, you can score an early bird ticket to the annual Chefs’ Table Society of BC’s Curry Cup which takes place on March 6th at the Heritage Hall. $60 tickets are available until January 16th and then go up to $65. This always sells out, so bag a deal now.

 

5. Eat sandwiches and drink wine at The Tuck Shoppe

Tuck Shoppe

I first tried the delights of The Tuck Shoppe at Cornucopia and vowed to check out their Union Street space as soon as I got back to Vancouver. Prepare to meet your new favourite sandwiches! Take a friend and split lunch because I can’t bear the thought of you having to choose between their stellar Cuban or world-class take on a beef dip (with French onion soup as the ‘dip’), as both are superb. Also on the menu, soups, salads and it’s even licensed with a cheeky little beer and wine list, plus a $5 happy hour Monday to Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. Open till late and run by some awfully nice chaps, make it a New Year's resolution to stop by for lunch, dinner or to check out their happy hour.

 

6. Comfort yourself with hot chocolate

hot chocolate festivalFacebook/CityFood Magazine

The seventh annual Hot Chocolate Festival kicks off on January 19th and runs till February 14th. No details have been released yet, but last year featured 25 different venues across the city and 59 brilliantly bonkers flavours, such as Mink’s marvellously named ‘It’s a Clusterfluff’ made with Valrhona Caramelia 36% milk chocolate topped with a torched marshmallow, served with a sparkle stick; or 49th Parallel’s Bee’s Knees which featured dark chocolate infused with lavender syrup, topped with steamed milk and a honey marshmallow, served with a honey and lavender biscotti. In short: 30 days of hot-choc happiness await.

 

7. Prepare to celebrate Canada with Wine Fest

Vancouver Wine Festival2017 is Canada’s official 150th birthday and the Vancouver International Wine Festival is celebrating that with eight days of wine and food from February 11 to 19th. This year the festival features 180 wineries from 16 countries around the word with Canada as the theme country. For the very first time at any international event, you’ll be able to taste your way around 76 Canadian wineries from British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia. Set an alarm on your phone for Tuesday, January 10th at 9:30 a.m. as tickets go on sale then. Plan ahead and take a look at the far-too-tempting array of events from boozy brunches, educational seminars, wine lunches and dinners and glitzy galas.

 

8. Get up close and tasty at Sportsbar Live!

Sportsbar Live

There is something very Vancouver about the all-new Sportsbar LIVE! at Rogers Arena, where you can go to watch the Canucks (and NFL playoff games on January 7, 8, 14, 15 and 22) and enjoy craft beers, cocktails, an excellent wine list and restaurant-level snacks, such as whipped B.C. ricotta on artisan sourdough bread and quinoa and kale salads alongside game-day faves such as wings and a foot-long grilled cheese. No tickets are required and you can watch the action on one of the 100+ 4K-HD TV screens or catch sight of the game from your seat.

Next-level your experience with a season-ticket membership in-arena seat which offers in-seat dining privileges and a killer unobstructed view of the ice. These coveted seats start at $119 per game. For full details, visit thesportsbar.ca/seasontickets.

 

9. Say howdy to the new openings

Mak & Ming

Mak & Ming is open in Kits. This is the much-anticipated new project from ex-Pidgin chef Makoto Ono and chef Amanda Cheng serving up a French-Asian take on West Coast cuisine. Tasting menus are the order of the day here with three and sixcourses on offer.

Coming very soon to Robson in the space where the 7-11 used to be at Cardero, is The Holy Crab. According to their Instagram, it’s going to be a "Louisiana-inspired seafood restaurant" with what looks like plenty of lobster rolls, crawfish and, of course, crab.

Opening their first of three new venues, Railtown Cafe is now open for breakfast, lunch and dinner at 968 Howe Street. Serving up made-to-order gourmet sandwiches, soups, pastries with a build-your-own salad bar, this is your new go-to downtown spot for something quick and delicious. They also have house-made ice cream as well as locally roasted coffee, cold-pressed juices and local beer, wine and spirits. A sandwich and a glass of wine? How civilized! Yes, please.