July 29, 2011

Flying with Pie (e la torta altro)

Life Overtaking Law

Dan Fetterly and Sandra Foweraker, lawyers extraordinaire recently landed at Suite 210-900 Howe Street.  They form their new law firm, Foweraker and Fetterly, Litigation Counsel, which offers general civil and  commercial litigation services with a focus on aviation, complex commercial, and administrative law.  We celebrated their move with an inaugural full-crust, raspberry-rhubarb pie from the Chilliwack Airport Coffee Shop (yes, that is the real name).  The pie, as well as Dan and Sandra as newly-anointed pie tasters, were excellent.

The pie had a beautiful crust, tender and flaky throughout the top, but sufficiently firm to hold together the full raspberries and chunks of rhubarb (even under a healthy dollop of Vanilla-Bean Haagan Dazs Ice-Cream) .  The crust was clearly a “scrimp no butter” crust as it tasted smooth and rich. The lip of the crust had a light crunch which could be made crispier by warming in an oven, for those who like a crunchier crust.  The color of the crust was a light caramel with no added sugar dusting or sugar crystals – a very classic crust. Encased in the crust was a perfect balance of whole raspberries and chunks of rhubarb, not too-sweet and not too-tart, but just perfect.  We decided not to rate this pie against the other pies we tasted and voted on; it seemed unfair to do so without re-tasting the other pies – something we are certainly willing to do, but subject to our commitment to chocolate this summer. All  tasters were extremely impressed by this pie, and welcome it wholeheartedly. Indeed, since we understand the Coffee Shop makes 60 varieties of pies, we anticipate a long and fruitful relationship between our firms, the Coffee Shop, and any nice taxi drivers who agree to deliver pies.

The Other Pie: Bibo versus Nicli Antica Pizzeria

We had been hearing so much about Vancouver’s urbane pie revolution (following Seattle and Portland) that we had to experience this other pie.  Our initial investigation into how to experience this revolution revealed that the actual pizza was as much part of the experience as the restaurant itself.  No more Pizza Huts or Italian restaurants that offer pizza with a mash of other Italian food, these are restaurants with an ultra-hip, modern setting focused on gourmet pizzas as their main offerings.  There is no person in a red uniform with a cap asking you what toppings you want to add to your pizza; there are fashionably dressed servers assisting you with selecting your designer pizzas, with  Italian names, and no modifications permitted (to ensure the integrity of the tasting experience). At Nicli Antica, they do not allow “take out” because their pizza must be tasted fresh.

Now to the comparison: Both restaurants are very modern and trendy, and seem to attract really skinny patrons who do not appeared to have faced carbohydrates in years – alas, we must be wrong, and it all must be in the genes, because they have come to eat pizza.  Bibo is in Kitsilano while Nicli Antica is in  Gastown.  Both places have high ceilings, modern furniture, and lots of white decor. Nicli Antica, in particular, felt like what it must be like to inside a white Sudafed capsule. We liked the environs of Nicli Antica more because the acoustics were better.  We found Bibo too noisy, although the movie wall-screen, playing Italian feasting movies, was a fun touch. The pizzas are all personal sized (no slices, and no options for small, medium or large) and have very simple and fresh toppings.  The Bibo pizzas (and we tried four of them) were thin-crusted, with thin pillowy dough in the centre and a nice puffy but crispy edge.  The toppings were fresh and bright.  We especially like the fact the spicy salami was actually spicy, the tiny bits of pancetta were packed with flavour and non-apologetically salty, and the cheese (mozzarella and gorganzola) were of good quality.  The Nicli Antica pizza crust was more doughy and sweet, without the crispy edge.  The toppings were as fresh and bright as the ones on the Bibo pizzas.  They were served with rosemary oil and a chilli oil to add at your leisure. We are big fans of infused oils, and in particular chilli-infused olive oils, but I did not find the Nicli Antica chilli oil to be as flavourful as ones I have tasted before.  Nonetheless, the little spike of chilli was nice for dough-dipping. On the dough alone (because the toppings are pretty even), we preferred the pizzas  at Bibo, but liked the restaurant experience more at Nicli Antica.

In the coming weeks… onwards with chocolate.