Report: Spot Prawn Boil at the Blackbird Public House and Oyster Bar

Some day I must try the oysters, too. But this day was all about the spot prawnage, baby!

Spot Prawn Boil II at the Blackbird

Of the Spot Prawn Boil we have spoken before. So there we (I) were (was) as a guest of the establishment (that means I didn’t pay, in case you couldn’t figure that out), a mere hour early instead of my usual hour late. What to do? Go upstairs and hang out with my friend and photographer Cathy Browne for a cocktail.

Blackbird Proprietary cocktails

I had the very dry, very savory Dunsmuir G&T, so named because the pub is on Dunsmuir street and there is Gin and Tonic in the drink, duh. It’s G&T taken up a notch. I was thrilled to the core of my being to find out that there is an actual gin called Dorothy Parker Gin. Someday I wish to have a gin named after me. “raincoaster gin” with the label in all lowercase: difficult to find, with a kick like a mule’s hind leg, but possessed of surprising subtleties, provided you can get past the aroma.

Where was I?

Oh, right. Well, unfortunately for you my photographer had another gig, so she left and you’re stuck with the infamous iPhone photos. I actually cleaned the lens and they didn’t turn out like my camera had been at the grog since dawn, so that’s a good thing.

Salad at Spot Prawn Boil

After moving downstairs to tables strewn with sheets from the Georgia Straight (is that what being a media sponsor is about? Huh), which enabled us to discuss who wanted to go to which concert advertised in the paper, we (about 40 of us) settled in for a long, tasty evening. Up first: a salad of mixed greens with beet puree, dressed with vinaigrette and sprinkled with candied seeds, which is a damn tasty way to add some interest to a salad. The caramelized sugar plays off the vinegar really well. I have to remember this (like I’m ever gonna make candied anything myself!).

Driftwood White Bark wit at the Blackbird

There were several different beers from the excellent and reliable Driftwood Brewing Company on tap, but I stuck with my favorite: White Bark, a white ale that is light, summery, not too heavily carbonated, and balanced rather than overwhelmingly citrusy as some in that category can be. I guess it’s the coriander. Spot prawns are a subtle food, even when dumped in liberal quantities right on the newsprint-strewn table, so I figured this would be the right choice to let their sweetness and complexity come out.

Regrettably, I forgot to take a photo of the various dressings for the spot prawn boil itself, but there were lemon wedges, a huge bowl of melted butter, and a very interesting vinegar and nori mixture that I can probably actually manage to make myself, which was a huge hit with everyone. And that is what you call fusion cuisine, my friends.

Spot Prawn Boil at the Blackbird

Om to the Nom, baby! Some ingredients are best served nearly naked, without obscure techniques and trickery getting in the way of their simple, honest, god-damn-aint-this-goodness. Spot prawns, sweet corn, baby white turnips, and russet potatoes are some of these things. And yes, we all twisted the heads off and sucked out the brains like good Foodie Zombies. When the apocalypse comes, we’ll be way ahead of you unpractised hordes.

Oh, speaking of which, what does a vegan zombie eat? GRAIIIIIIIIIINS!

Yeah, it got the same reaction when I told it at the table.

ANYHOODLY…

Spot Prawn Boil

As you can see, it was a fun, informal event. There were bibs present. Whenever the prawnage got low, they brought out another huge bowlful, and a surprise hit was the baby turnips. There are few things I loathe as much as I loathe turnips. Like, Dick Cheney maybe. MAYBE. So I was quite surprised when I tried one of these, thinking nearsightedly that it was a shallot or something, and actually liked it. It had a very, very subtle nuttiness and a lovely, smooth texture that cut like butter. All the turnip-haters at the table, and there were a few, were pleasantly surprised.

Berry upside down cake

For dessert, we had an old-fashioned upside-down cake featuring berries and a vanilla chantilly, with a honey drizzle. That was a tasty combination indeed; without the honey it would have been a little flat, and without the chantilly it would have been a little dry. There’s nothing wrong with cake, it’s just…cake needs something the way models need makeup. In order to be a real dessert and not just a carb bomb, cake needs help. This was exactly what this particular cake (which was a good cake, make no mistake) needed.

And yes, the beer went with the cake very well, in fact. Coriander and citrus go with cake excellently.

I briefly entertained the idea of walking home, until the three beers and about ten pounds of food I had consumed hit me, and took the Skytrain like a sensible person.

Can’t wait till next year, guys! #itsNeverTooEarlyToHint

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