Brief Description: Hmmm…I can’t really summarize it quickly so please read below or visit the Social Bites website.
New concepts in food or eating completely fascinate me! For this Greedy Guts there is something so exciting, so refreshing, about discovering innovative and interesting ways of eating or dining. So, when I had found out about Social Bites, I thought “Yep, this is for me!”. And, of course, my food-loving B was down for it too. Yay!
Social Bites has been around for a relatively short time – this is only their second year. The motto is eat. meet. move your feet. The idea behind it is to enjoy good food whilst meeting new people. In summary, it works a bit like this: 4 brave people nominate themselves to be a Hobby Chef. Their task is to open their home and cook their favourite meal for four guests (i.e. strangers). The guests spend an hour – long enough to chat, short enough to avoid being awkward – at the first Hobby Chef’s home, where they meet the other guests and hopefully, enjoy a good meal and some laughs. An hour later the guests then move on to a second Hobby Chef’s home and do it all over again. After guests have dined at both Hobby Chef’s homes, every participant (all guests and chefs) assembles at a final location (could be an art gallery, could be a park – who knows?) for the dessert section of the evening. This is where the voting of the “Hobby Chef Award” is held – each guest gets to vote on who they thought was the best Hobby Chef of the night. Each Social Bites dinner is set in one particular suburb and so guests are able to walk to each Chef’s home. What a great idea!! (For a more detailed explanation, check out www.socialbites.ca).
Our first Social Bites experience was held on Saturday the 18th of April and the destination was Yaletown. Prior to the event you pay your $35 per person and you are then emailed a map and your Hobby Chef’s addresses. All you have to do on the evening is show up with map (and alcohol) in hand. Our first Hobby Chef was Marc and he prepared a Fiesta Americana – Chili Con Carne with an extra kick. I must say that at first it is kinda awkward to walk into someones place whom you’ve never met before and have dinner with them but once that initial awkwardness subsides it is a lot of fun. I recommend leaving your shyness at home to make the most of the evening. Marc was a great, bubbly host and the Fiesta Americana was delicious (he was right about the extra kick!). Marc had baked fresh moist cornbread for us to enjoy with the organic beef chili and he also gave us a summary of how he made it; lots of chipolte and chili! Our hour was up very quickly and we said our goodbyes before moving on to our second Hobby Chef’s home.
Our next Hobby Chef was Kris and Co. (he had two friends helping him out) and the meal they prepared was a Pacific Northwest BBQ which was barbecued salmon and mashed potatoes served with fresh greens and vinaigrette dressing. Kris and Co. were very hospitable and presented us with welcome Caesar’s (yum!). These went down a treat whilst we were waiting for the salmon to barbecue. When it did arrive at the plate, the salmon was perfectly cooked and covered in a secret home-made sauce. The mash was garlicky and the salad was fresh and tangy. The problem that I encountered (and I heard similiar mutterings from other guests) was that I was already full from the first meal! Although it was delightful, I really had to force the second meal down.
With bulging bellies we made our way to the Social Bites Hot Spot. The chosen meeting place for our evening was Yaletown Gallery, a teeny-tiny art gallery located at Homer and Davie. It was a bit of a tight squeeze with about 30 of us packed in but it meant that you were able to chat to others easily. It was here that we were introduced to Annika, the Social Bites organizer, and we were treated to two German wines that she had brought back with her from a recent trip. The wines, she told us, were from very small German wineries and, when translated, one of the wines meant “Little Red Riding Hood” which I think is a fabulous name for a wine! The wines were delicious; the sparkling wine more so than the red. The wines were accompanied by some German chocolates and typical of European fare, the chocolate was good quality and the flavours were fantastically varied.
I thought that would be enough, but no, Annika had more tricks up her sleeve and one of them was Kate (aka The Wine Mistress). The Wine Mistress had chosen to showcase for us Vespaiolo, an Italian sparkling wine and the Salt Spring Island Blackberry Port – oh my! This was the same port that B and I had tried and loved at Pair Bistro. Needless to say, we devoured the dark and velvety smooth port quickly so that we could get another taste before it all disappeared.
The Vespaiolo was light and fruity and as someone who thoroughly enjoys sparkling wine (although not the hangover that accompanies it), I will definitely seek out this little gem again. Kate told us that this was available from BC wine stores so I will be keeping an eye out for it.
Final Thoughts: What’s not to love? Where else would you get 2 meals, wine tasting and dessert all for $35 and a chance to meet new and interesting people that all share a love of food?! All in all, I had a wonderful night at my first Social Bites evening. It was a lot of fun to meet new people and to try other people’s cooking and I will definitely be doing it again. B and I have even talked about perhaps putting on our Hobby Chef hats but we shall see…