Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Pre-Game Meal

As far as I can tell, there's never really been a great tradition of sports & food in Vancouver. There are no Fenway Sausages, Candlestick Fries or Safeco Grilled Salmon Burgers. In fact, the food in our sporting venues has been downright awful. For proof, try to complete this sentence without using the word "beer": When you go to GM Place, you have to try the _________.

I've all but given up on our stadiums and arenas. Instead, I look for pre and post game options ... or "during" as in the case of sports on television. So it was that I found myself at Vera's Burgers on Commercial Drive for round 1 of the UEFA Champions' League knock-out phase. Vera's subscribes to Setanta so I was able to catch the Manchester United v. Olympique Lyonnais match while noshing on burgers and other fried foods. Not the same as crappy PNE hot dogs at old Empire Stadium, but not bad for atmosphere in a pinch.

Strangely enough, the closest thing we ever had to real "sports" food could be found at Swanguard Stadium with the USL1 version of the Whitecaps. Kiwi Pies were at one time sold under the bleachers as a convenient hand-warmer and snack all-in-one. Sadly they've gone out of business. One hopes that if the Caps ever get their waterfront stadium they'll remember Kiwi Pies, and also have a look at BMO field in Toronto for inspiration.

My second sports-related meal took place before last night's Vancouver Giants' game at the Pacific Coliseum. To say that the food at the Coliseum is brutal would be an affront to all things brutal. The nostalgia of eating PNE hot dogs wore out LONG before the indigestion did. Ever since the Giants took over the venue in 2001 things imporved marginally with the addition of White Spot. But as good as a Tripple-O might be, it is not a food synonimous with hockey.

Son Ryan & I have developed our own pre-game meal tradition in the form of Vietnamese at Phô 66. Since it's right at the corner of Hastings & Boundary it's perfectly suited for Giants nights. Service is prompt, prices are reasonable, and you get something you'd never get at the Coliseum. This night, Ryan had his favorite bowl of wonton soup, and I had the grilled pork hash with vermicelli. The phô is also good, but we've been branching out lately.

Our seats for the evening were rink-side ... literally. If you've never seen hockey this close, you really need should. It's a lousy place to really see the game, but it gives you a terrific perspective on how fast they skate and how hard they hit. And the boards in front of you make a great place to rest your beer.

As we enjoyed a 3rd period pretzel, I couldn't help but wonder how much better the game would have been with a really good burger, or perhaps a decent slice of pizza. But what I really should have been doing was paying attention to the game. If I'd been doing that I would have noticed the bone crunching body-check that launched my beer into my lap.

1 comment:

  1. Good post Arne. Vancouver would have trouble even choosing an iconic sports-ready food to start with, unless maybe somehow we could marry dim sum or cedar plank salmon and hockey.


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