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Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Month: October 2017 Page 1 of 3

Richmond Country Farm

The month of October is associated with Halloween and pumpkins. And a popular outing for most Vancouverites during this time of year, is visiting a pumpkin patch to pick their own. Not only do you get the thrill of the harvest, but you also get a great photo op in the process.

There are so many farms to choose from, but this year we traveled to Richmond’s “Country Farms” as a recommendation from a friend. But sadly, we made the mistake of coming out on a weekday: meaning extra lines, additional crowds, and an increased fee. $13 admission as a posed to $10 during weekdays.

The property was expansive with an attendant directing cars into either lots. You park then take a trek to the actual farm. Along the way there are plenty of farm life to look, at but not touch or feed. Chickens and roosters roaming free, and turkeys, fancy feathered ducks, and billy goats penned up in a shared space. There were also cows, horses, and donkeys behind wooden fences to appreciate.

The farm grows fruits and vegetables, specializing in corn and pumpkins, which they sell at their neighbouring market. As the property is an active space with farm machinery and equipment in regular operation, you aren’t able to roam the land freely for safety reasons. You are asked to stay in designated areas, follow signs, and have their staff in costumes guide you. A few were dressed like Disney characters, others festive in smocks dawning the colours of fall’s changing leaves.

The main area includes a stage with live band and dancing vegetable mascots. This and the tent of hay bales made popular attraction for the smaller kids to run about at. The mini doughnut stand and grilled cheese truck offered lunch and light snacks for families staying the day. And the gazebo with picnic tables, offered a place for them to eat and rest at.

We did none of the above, but did ride the miniature train for $4 per person. You board the open cars and pick any available seat. Designed for children, but enjoyable as an adult just the same. It gave us a sit down tour of the property, which overlapped with the wagon ride we would later take. In hindsight, considering this, the $4 fee seemed a little steep. Not to mention, this was a shorter track, so it was a quicker ride round the property. The attraction was hosted by a conductor. He pointed out the Halloween decorations to the train’s left and right, engaged the crowd in questions, and lead everyone in sing-a-long. Once again, this was not unlike the wagon ride we had to take below. There was a skeleton mariachi band, a haunted house with springing ghoul, and a giant orange mammoth lurking behind the tall grass. Overall the ride was cute, but you really didn’t get to enjoy most of the farm’s field or wildlife at all; especially given the distance of the track to the pens of the latter.

As I eluded to above, in order to reach the pumpkin patch, you have to board one of their wooden wagons, naturally the ride is included in your admission. A covered ride with wood benches and bales of hay for seats. Each pulled by a big wheel tractor. Our was further led by their farm’s dog dawning his own neon reflective visibility vest.

Like the train before you have a host entertaining you along the way. They too pointed out sights and make general observations, but mostly they lead group sing-a-longs on their instrument of choice. “Old McDonald” on a violin and “She’ll be coming around the mountain” on a guitar.

You dis-embark the wagon and begin your dredge on to the muddy pumpkin patch. We were told the largest of their pumpkins were the furthest out. Luckily we thought far ahead enough to wear boots, to be able to drag ourself through it all, all in search for the ideal gourd. I would eventually go for the perfect round small pumpkin, and my guest one that was medium sized and just as spherical. Although I enjoy the green pumpkins and the ones that were oblong-ed shaped more.

A returning wagon ride got us back to the main property where we struggled to wash up. Our boots were caked with mud and without a tap to clean them with, we were forced to utilized a murky puddle. But thankfully I had tissue paper and wet wipes in my car, otherwise there would have been a mess on the mats. Although my car still ended up smelling like farm and manure for days to follow.

From here we wrapped up our time at the farm, the time it took just to clean up had me less than enthusiastic to continue any further. Though we did swing by the aforementioned market to see all the refresh produce they offered and my guest even got some groceries for dinner there.

This has been a nice afternoon at “Richmond Country Farms”, but definitely one more catered to young children rather than kids of all ages. I would return, but given the other pumpkin patches that I have been to previously, and what more they offered in terms of sights and attractions, this might not be my first choice next year.

 

RICHMOND COUNTRY FARMS
12900 Steveston Hwy, Richmond BC, V6W 1A3​
​604-274-0522
countryfarms.ca

BC Beer Awards

The BC Beer Awards & Festival, celebrating the very best craft beer brewed in British Columbia.

 

It is no surprise that BC residents love their beer. So wanting to celebrate their appreciation for the art of craft brews with an award ceremony isn’t a reach either. Today I was the plus one to another beer loving foodie: Andrew of @eatwithmao, and together we would be exploring the annual occasion. Andrew, was one of the judges on the panel deciding the winners of a new category in this year’s competition: The Creative Industry Award. He and another friend and local food blogger, Joyce of @vanfoodies were given the task of helping to decide the breweries that would win in categories like best packaging, best website, and best social media presence of 2017. The results of which we would find out throughout the night, punctuated with heavy sampling from all local breweries in BC nominated or not.

The actual award ceremony went by fast. In order to get through the 30 original categories and the new ones added, it was a non stop rotation of bodies walking across the stage to retrieve their first, second, and third place trophies from our dynamic host. There were so many categories from dark, to pale ales, IPAs; and even some categories of beers I didn’t even know existed: like an herb and vegetable one.

After the first round of winners were announced there was so much to celebrate that the beer was all the more sweeter. And the crowd more fun as we mingled with proud award winning brew masters and brewery owners.

This year’s sold out event took place at the Croatian Cultural Centre, with the city coming out thirsty. VIP ticket holders were granted 4pm admission and a gift bag for their patronage. This was one hour before the 5pm general admission entry. We were invited as media and allowed entry at 3pm, and there was already a line growing at the entry way then. Along with two stern guards to keep everyone in order. Their presence made sense given the point of the night was to try beers from over 60 plus breweries and 9 cideries, each offering 2-3 samples of their various signature brews.

Regular admission included 4 tokens you redeem for tasters and a commemorative glass to pour them in. Each token gave you one sample, and additional ones cost you $2 each; which we found it incredibly reasonable. The glasses are in the volume that you would get with any standard bar flight. They offered you more than enough opportunity to taste the beer you choose to fill it with.

Each brewer had their own table and poured from their own kegs and taps. You need only approach and request any of the ones they are offering. My choices were based on anything unique, as per my regular dining preferences. Naturally I won’t be able to cover everything offered, but below is a listing of all that I tried. Sadly the meal I had before I came and what we had for dinner in between prevented me from drinking more than I could.

I started off with the one closest to the door. Sooke had a coffee porter named “stuck in the mud”. It was dark and rich, with the aroma of coffee.

The Kettle River Brewery’s “Cinnabun stout” was memorable. It tasted like sugar and cinnamon, and what you remember a cinnamon bun to be.

We tried the Stanley Park Brewing “Salted watermelon sour” and “Midnight black IPA” next, which were day and night from one another. The sour was just as salty as it was sour, with the flavour of watermelon as an after note. It was too punchy for my taste. The “Midnight black” was sweeter and smoother by comparison, almost syrup-like.

The “El Dorado Smash” was a fun one. A single malt, single hop made with the Elderado tropical stone fruit, for a bright and acidic flavour of pineapple and mango. I liked its slightly milky complexion.

Having tried and loved it at a recent event, when I saw the “Barrel aged Hermannator” from Victoria Island Brewing, I traded in a token for another taste.

My drinking mates were very excited to see the Four Winds Brewing “Fresh hop wild ale” and had a taster each. This was a beer with mild herbal aromas and notes of lemon and melon.

I tried the Swans Brewery’s smash lager, that came recommended, as well as the Superflux “Double Infinity”.

After lapping the main room, we then found ourselves in the secondary room of beer vendors. It was a less decorative space, but it did come with a different stage and a live musician performing on it. Plus plenty of tables to sit at.

Here we tried Deadfrog Brewing’s “Super fearless” imperial IPA: “jalapeñobusiness”. This was a spicy beer infused with jalapeños and mango. Too much of the latter and not enough of the former for me.

From Dageraad brewing we had their award winning “Antwerpen”. And the award winning “shake a paw” smoked porter from Yellow Dog Brewing as well.

And from Boombox brewing we tried two of their India pale ales, one of which was another award winner.

I like Fuggles & Warklock for their pop culture references and their gamer-style packaging. Today I had their Canadian international beer award, silver winner: “Bean me up”, an espresso milk stout.

The “Bambuco” Belgium from “Andina” came in an especially festive cask with their mascot on the handle.

The event ended promptly at 10pm, where we were able to sneak in two more glasses from Granville Island Brewing as the lights turned on and the vendors started packing up.

Thus this was the end of a great event and definitely something to look forward to next year. And if this year’s showing is like the last, be sure to purchase your ticket as soon as you can, because they sold out within the first day. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BC BEER AWARDS
bcbeerawards.com

Japanese Bistro Hatzu

Today I was invited to “Hatzu” for a media tasting like no other. I was the plus one to Jacqueline of @porkninja fame, and we were two of a panel of over 15 people invited to give invaluable feedback to the restaurant, in the form of a tasting panel. Our resulting feedback would be used to determine their newest menu, set to launch in the upcoming week.

The restaurant has recently made several transitions, including the transformation from “Sushi Bella” to the current “Japanese bistro”. And now they are reintroducing themselves as being under new management. This aforementioned transformation visually includes the adaptation of their five page menu into a solid one. Previously, finding it too overwhelming, thus removing any dishes that were prepared from frozen first.

The new menu is paired down. One page with desserts, and cocktails as a separate list. Being able to compare the two before me, I found the current one a much easier read. The page clipped to a board was divided between starters, greens, pressed sushi, specialty rolls, and dishes cooked hot to order from the kitchen. Just looking at it, and hearing the smooth hotel lobby jazz play overhead, I already felt like this would be a great dressed up restaurant for a nicer night out. As seen with the use of reusable napkins and lacquer chopsticks.

As for the restaurant’s decor: it was a simple affair. The smaller tables partnered with booth seats and chairs to maximize their smaller space. The only specific design element was their name highlighted in LED purple against the back wall.

But before we begin on the food: when it comes to a media tasting plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

Each course was served to us in tasting portions, two pieces as apposed to the typical 5-6 offered on full plate. Although a full portion was also available for photos, and this full portion is what I used in this post, unless otherwise mentioned. After each course we were given time to fill out the questionnaire presented to us before hand. This is how they were planning to gather the feedback they required, in order to present a customer centric menu. A new and improved list of things to come, featuring what their potential customer base was asking for; while still taking into consideration what their regulars continued to come back to them for, and could potentially be upset to no longer see on a new menu.

The first dish was definitely the most unique. These were “Deep fried oysters” breaded and fried in squid ink, to the perfect crispy texture. It had a unique look to it, one I would order just for a closer look at. However it might not be the most appealing dish. The first bite was the juiciest, with liquid pooling out. The dipping sauce on the side provided more flavour, and balance by cutting into the oyster’s more stronger fishy notes. Although it was pretty good without the dip as well.

The “Tuna tataki”, was seared tuna over an avocado mousse made with cream cheese, and a folio of mango. This was a beautiful presentation, and the dressiest tuna tataki that I have ever had. It made for a light and refreshing start to the meal ahead. Best with some layers from the peanut and pickled ginger provided. But I was still missing some spice, something punchy to pick up this bland offering.

The “Smoked salmon kale salad” is pretty self explanatory. A kale salad topped with smoked salmon, dried cranberry, corn kernels, and granola; all dressed in a white onion vinaigrette. A sweeter salad given some texture with the soft fish and the pops of juice from the corn. Not a very exciting dish, however, I am not one to order salad in general. And I wouldn’t come to a Japanese restaurant for something like this in the first place. This was their sampling size and it was plenty. After a few more bites, I found it pretty flat. I wanted more, some croutons or some crispy fried onions for a nice crunch. Best as a side to some grilled salmon, than an entree on its own.

I would however come in for their “Buta Kakuni”, braised pork belly. A well prepared piece of pork, chewy with a good amount of fat for tenderness. Soy was poured over it to serve, along with the red beets, it gave the dish some sweetness and tang; whereas the greens offered up some spicy pepperiness. This one comes highly recommended by the restaurant and I can see why, I pretty much licked the serving clean.

They have refined their signature sushi roll assortment, scaling down the number of specialty rolls from 29; to truly make each one available, special. Each of these rolls also now focus on one main ingredient as the star, for cleaner bites and truer flavours. As a posed to seeing how many different ingredients they can roll up and top rice and seaweed with. They are also offering these rolls in more share-friendly quantities. Typically a roll is 6-8 pieces, here they give you 12 pieces to have and finish like an entree. However, the feedback our group was quick to give was to be able to order half servings for the following as well. Majority of us felt that 12 pieces of the same roll is a lot, whereas most diners would prefer to order several rolls in smaller quantities to be able to taste and try more variety.

The “Unagi roll” is barbecue eel topping a tamago and avocado roll. The eel is the focal point and the star of this one. For this and all their other rolls, you have the option of getting them torched table side, and I suggest that you take your server up on it. Here, a kiss from a flame adds a wonderful caramelization to the fish, making it more tender and sweet with its sticky sauce.

The “Tuna roll” centred around mayo marinated tuna with jalapeño for some spice, and red beets and avocado to balance things out with some coolness. Given how tender the rice was, it put focus on how grainy the tuna fish within the roll it was, thus taking away from the Alice of tuna on top. With this roll we had half the serving torched and the other half as is, to be able to compare the two; and once again, I prefer it with a nice touch of flame.

The “Mango roll” is one of their vegetarian options, made with mango, beet, avocado, and yam tempura. The restaurant prided themselves on using fresh mango as the star of this roll, having it sliced fresh every day. However I would have preferred it as the side to another ingredient more befitting of a seafood substitute in sushi. I personally like a good vegetarian roll, but found this one boring. I could have used more textures. The tempura had a nice crispy crunch to it, but everything else was a soften pile in my mouth. The soy sauce helped and was needed for additional flavour.

My favourite entree was the “Creamy miso yaki udon”, a serving of fried udon in a miso base with fish broth and beef. It was just noodles and sauce, and I didn’t need anymore. It reminded me of a spicy mac and cheese done Japanese style with chilli powder. I got pleasant pops from the (tobiko) fish roe in the mix. And the freshly grated Parmesan on top, added a nice layer and some saltiness. You can have as little or as much of it as you want over your pasta. I really liked how chewy the noodles were, it was most comforting to slurp. A dish I would love after a night of heavier drinking, or as a great side to a richer cut of meat. My photo is of their sample size.

The “Gyu katsu” was also another favourite of the restaurant, offering up a more interactive dining experience. They will only be making 15 orders of this per dinner seating. Lightly breaded, braised sirloin served with thinly sliced cabbage. You sear it further to your desired tastes, using a special heated stone plate that is brought out to the table and lit. It is recommended that you sear it for two to three seconds, depending if you like it medium or medium rare. This heated stone contraption was imported in just for this dish, and we were the first to use them on this day. The 8oz of beef is served with a honey butter and Dijon dipping and a miso based sauce. The miso one reminded me of peanut butter, and I much preferred the honey one with its sweeter notes.

And for dessert we had the “Matcha panna cotta”. A thickened matcha cream served with green tea ice cream. Eating from a rounded wood spoon enhanced the experience, it had you really savouring the flavours of two layers of green tea. An overall subtle dish with the addition of frozen fruit and soy bean powder offering up a different textures and a more interesting morsel. This was a nice palette cleanser to end your meal on.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
If they hold true to their word, this a restaurant to try and then revisit. Unique interpretations meets tasty dishes, with a goal of continuous menu change and dish innovations. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HATZU
1175 Davie Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1N1
604-559-7707
bistrohatzu.com
Japanese Bistro Hatzu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lagoon Restaurant, at the Painted Boat

I was invited on a road trip with Ford Canada. In order to best assess their 2017 line of SUVs, myself and a handful of other media influencers drove up to the Sunshine Coast for the day. I was behind the wheel of the rugged, yet comfortable “Ford Edge”, and got myself and my driving mate safely to our overnight stop: “The Painted Boat”. A lovely resort, where we stayed the night and enjoyed many meals out of their restaurant: “Lagoon”. This post just covers the latter.

To read my review of the resort itself, click on the link below.

Painted Boat Resort

 

“Lagoon” was a fitting name considering the restaurant’s view from the balcony and its adjacency to the water. Although sadly during October the balcony was a little cold and a little too damp to enjoy a meal or two on. However their conference room and their actual restaurant space above it was situated to best maximize the number of seats and their ability to look out the window. Thus allowing you to take in the view from the warmth of indoors.

To watch snippets of the restaurant, please visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei, for my vlog covering our entire #FordSUV trip.

 

For the recap of the entire trip as a whole, click on the post below.

A Road Trip with Ford’s 2017 SUVs

 

As always, when it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

During our stay the restaurant prepared snacks like cheese and prosciutto platters coupled with with crusty bread and seeded crackers. And offered fresh vegetables with dip and sliced fruit for us to munch on.

For dinner we had four appetizers and four entrees, followed by two deserts to share amongst a table. Our table had diners retiring early, which left us with extra servings and me the opportunity to doggy bag what we didn’t finish, as to not let anything go to waste. It was all delicious and just as good a couple of days later, microwaved out of their cardboard to-go boxes.

The first course had us starting with small bites and a salad. The “Painted Boat organic salad” was delicious. I am not a fan of salad, but their offering included a variety of ingredients for visual, textural, and flavoural interest. Organic greens, strawberries, shaved beets, and candied pecans; all in a spiced maple vinaigrette. It was really the sweeter dressing that pulled it together with every leaf being fully coated. Although with how much we had during snack time and how much more we were expected to enjoy now, I thought it best not to fill up on vegetables.

The “Tomato and avocado tartar” is a great starter for any vegetarian. Dressed with balsamic and topped with capers, it is the perfect salsa to scoop up with the serving of bread to start or the focaccia crisps presented with the carpaccio below.

The “Spiced BC beef carpaccio” was airy and light. Even those insisting that they were too full were able to make room for this. I liked it as is with its topping of arugula and radish drizzled over with a basil crema. I didn’t find it spicy at all, as its name eludes.

Hands down my favourite dish was the “Grilled octopus”. Thick slices of tentacle mixed with smoked potato, grilled chorizo and crispy dried basil leaves. It all sat in a piquillo aioli, although I found it plenty flavourful without it. In fact I could have done with the chorizo as well, considering it distracted from the octopus that I liked the most.

For the main course we started with their “Gladiator local wild prawns” served with their house made roasted garlic hummus, chimichurri, grilled lemon, and hot sauce. The shrimp was already seasoned in herbs and flavoured well that I didn’t find that the hummus added anything to it or the over all dish. I would have liked just the shrimp on skewers as an appetizer instead.

The “Steamed mussels” were jammed pack with flavour, stewing in a red curry sauce made from coconut broth, lemon grass, and ginger. Although delicious, I would have preferred the curry with some chicken or beef over rice instead. I found that its intense flavour overpowered the more subtle ones of the mussels. I would have also liked some bread or fries to dip into the sauce with.

The “Malbec braised beef” was my favourite this course. Thick cuts of beef so tender that they flaked off with the slightest pressure from your fork. Juicy and deep with its black fig and port jus. It was best with the mashed potatoes below, as it soaked up the flavour of the jus.

The “Organic Chicken Supreme” was a name that delivered. I am not a fan a white meat, but I still appreciated how well prepared and well seasoned the tender chicken was. It sat stacked in a smoked carrot purée with roasted garlic jus. And with all its accompanying sides, this was a complete meal. Saffron Israel couscous, garlic mashed potatoes, and a plate of steamed vegetables.

For dessert they kept it timely with their “Maple pumpkin pot de crema”. It was a luscious bite, reminding me of a cross between pumpkin pie without the crust and mousse. As a textural diner I just would have liked a crumble at the bottom or a dusting of nuts as a topping for some occasional crunch.

I got all the textures I wanted in a dessert from the “Dark chocolate diplomat mousse cake” with pistachio crust. It wasn’t too sweet, allowing the richness of the chocolate to shine through.

The next day we enjoyed their buffet breakfast before embarking on our drive home. The help yourself assortment included a toaster station with bagels, bread, and gluten-free English muffins. But I much rather-ed and full enjoyed their heated containers showcasing sausage, bacon, breakfast potato cubes, waffles cut into quarters, and eggs Benny. The bennies came in vegetarian with asparagus and its own pesto sauce, and ham with cheese or smoked salmon in the tradition hollandaise sauce.

It was a delicious start to the day, except the English muffins used for the Benny did become to hard to slice through due to its extended time within the heated tray. This is the first time I have actually seen this dish pre-made and offered up like this.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
If you are planning on staying at the “Paint Boat” make sure you reserve an evening for dinner at “Lagoon” to complete the experience. Otherwise they make a great fine dining spot for anyone living within the city or visiting the area. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LAGOON RESTAURANT
12849 Lagoon Road, Sunshine Coast BC, V0N2H0
604-883-3000
paintedboat.com
Painted Boat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Painted Boat Resort

I was invited on a road trip with Ford Canada. In order to best assess their 2017 line of SUVs, myself and a handful of other media influencers drove up to the Sunshine Coast for the day. I was behind the wheel of the comfortable “Ford Edge”, and got myself and my driving mate safely to our overnight a the “Painted Boat Resort”. Driving up and later driving around town, you could tell that this was definitely the nicest of all the accommodations in the area. A notion reaffirmed when we were able to take in the view from our suites.

We all parked our Ford SUVs within the resort’s spacious lot, then checked in their spa, which doubled as front desk. The exterior included a trickling water feature and tranquil music. Shame, that this was the extent of the spa that I was able to take in. I would have loved to enjoy a treatment or two, however with limited time during my stay with them, I couldn’t give up the opportunity to take in the majestic views and explore what our locale offered. I guess going back for their spa is as good enough of a reason as any to visit them again.

We were each given keys to our suites and the time to take it all in. I was assigned one with two floors and two bed rooms. Each bedroom included its own washroom, a luxury in itself. One had a queen bed with shower and toilet. The Master bedroom had a king sized bed with the lake view, a toilet in its own closet; and a shower and bathtub, one overlooking the other.

There was a staircase that led to a loft on the second level. Here this living space included a smaller television and its own balcony. Naturally, the elevated view from this vantage point was the preferred one.

The main floor included a fully functioning kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Inside the fridge was a fresh bottled juice and some local vegan chocolates welcoming us “home”. The living area included a dining table, a fireplace with television and plenty of sofa seating. The couches also provided a secondary pull out sleeping cot, should you need it.

This spacious room led out onto the sundeck with the same view as the balcony above, although it came with the ability to walk across its expanse, and enjoy some barbecuing with a view. Shame, I wouldn’t be able to take advantage and enjoy this some more either: the view and the barbecues. Reason number two to plan a return trip. Both sun decks overlooked the lake that the resort sat at the edge of. Mirrored waters reflecting the clouds above and the greenery all around. Docked at their marina were boats and water crafts, the latter of which we got a chance to take on. I have never enjoyed such a view in my life and would very much so love to take my partner here. Reason number three to turn: enjoying something special you have experience again with someone special.

For those staying, you are able to take either a kayak or canoe out onto the water. A quick lesson on how to board and paddle, and after buckling yourself into a life jacket, off you go. I shared a kayak and therefore the work of paddling with Diana from Foodology.ca. This was her first time in a canoe, not being able to swim as deterred her up to this point. But she took to it well after realizing how safe and secure sitting up right in it was. She was at the stern of our kayak, in charge of directing us; leaving me at the bow of the boat, as the primary paddler. A responsibility I took very seriously with the sore bicep muscles the next day to prove it. We row-row-rowed our “boat” to a self created playlist of boat themed songs. We paddled along the coast line taking in the properties, imagining ourselves with the opportunity to own such real estate. But at least for now “Painted Boat” gives you the opportunity to pretend for a night or two. The view was beautiful and the ride calming.

To better get an idea of this scene, please check out my vlog that quickly reviews our entire #FordSUV road trip. You can do so clicking on the link to my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

There is also an outdoor pool and hot tub, located between the villa I was situated in and their on-resort restaurant. Yet another amenity I did not have time to enjoy, giving me reason number four to plan a repeat trip. The pool glowed a beautiful aquamarine at night, with the same lake expanse view as your suite, except from a different angle. And the hot tub invited you in with visible steam rising from its hotter waters. There was also a gym available for those looking to keep up with their workout routine, even when on vacation.

What I did take advantage of was the deep and wide tub, creating a bubble bath with soap and immersing myself chin deep into warm water. After waiting until I pruned, I dried off with their fluffy towels and dawned on one of their plush robes. Getting comfortable, before expiring on to their comfy bed with crisp sheets, where I sprawled across the expanse of the bed like a starfish.

I also fully enjoyed the offerings at their restaurant: “Lagoon”. A fitting name considering its view from the outdoor balcony. A space unfortunately a little too cold to enjoy at night. However their conference room and their actual restaurant above it, was situated to maximize seats with the ability to look out the window and take in the view from the warmth of indoors.

To learn more about the restaurant, the meals offered there, and what we had; visit the link below to see what’s available for breakfast, dinner, and snacks.

Lagoon Restaurant, at the Painted Boat

 

And to read about the #FordSUV trip as a whole, click on the post below.

A Road Trip with Ford’s 2017 SUVs

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This is certainly the nicest place I have stayed at while on the Sunshine Coast, and the nicest I will ever stay at. Because how can you go anywhere else and try anything else after having the best here. Reason number five to plan a return visit in the new year. I could not have enjoyed my stay any more, unless it was for a longer extended time, allowing me to take in the resort and spa fully. One can only hope for the opportunity to return.

 

PAINTED BOAT RESORT
12849 Lagoon Road, Sunshine Coast BC, V0N2H0
604-883-3000
paintedboat.com

Smitty’s Oyster House

I was invited on a road trip with Ford Canada. In order to best assess their 2017 line of SUVs, myself and a handful of other media influencers drove up to the Sunshine Coast for the day. I was behind the wheel of the comfortable “Ford Edge”, and got myself and my driving mate safely to our first stop: Smitty’s, at the Gibbson’s Landing Marina, for lunch.

Disclaimer: When it comes to a media tasting plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

For the video highlights of this meal, please visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

From what I can gather, this by-the-water seafood hot spot is run by a husband and wife team. They are passionate about their business and their ability to bring their customers fresh seafood sourced right from their backyard.

The restaurant is spread across two floors with ample seating along the bar, shared on the family-style long high table that centred the room, and within various booths and four tops for more private gatherings. The decor consists of nautical elements and Canadiana that hangs on the walls and is perched up above fixtures. Flags, jerseys, driftwood, and buoys.

Located on the dock itself, you might miss them if you didn’t know where to look. Their unique location gives you great views from their oyster bar that faced the window. The bar is also the best place to perch at, in order to watch oysters being shucked, from the mound kept on ice. Four different varieties labeled, representing BC’s best. They even have a trophy for their participation in an oyster shucking competition, which is why I felt in safe hands to try shucking for the first time here.

The owner himself (perhaps Smitty? I wish I caught his name) was patient as he instructed me on the techniques to shuck quickly and safely. I took their pointed oyster knife in one hand and a jagged oyster shell in another, then placing the latter in its special curved platform went to work. This stand allowed for the oyster to stay secure and safe as I took the knife in between its shell, wiggling along the edge in order to pry it open. The hardest part is suppressing the fear of stabbing yourself with your tool. The trick is to sever the oyster’s tendons to the shell, trying to avoid slicing the oyster itself. Once the shell is opened, you take the knife under the oyster itself, in order to free it from its base. This allows the person eating it to take it in with a tilt of the head and a deep slurp. After I was done, I was invited to enjoy the fruits of my labour: fresh oysters over a pan of ice, served with fresh lemon slices for squeezing and a clump of horseradish for tang.

They also had a caddy of condiments that you could top your oysters with. Hot sauces and fruits salsa to add some heat or make things sweet. Although when they are this fresh, as is suffices.

After those who wanted the opportunity, got to shuck. The rest of us were all invited to gather around the aforementioned long table; where they had set us up with boards of cheese and crackers and another with vegetables and fresh fruit to nibble on. Although I insisted on sitting at the bar so that I could watch half of the dishes to come being prepared to order.

This included their “Chowda'”. A lighter and chunkier clam chowder with noticeable chunks of onions and potato. I learned that the day’s serving is prepared early in the morning, in order to have it cool completely and gain the desired consistency; although I personally would have liked it thicker still. Each order is heated up at the bar, using a special apparatus, which I have never seen the likes of before, which I was also mesmerized by. There were stainless steel pots of sorts. You put what you wanted to heat up or cook inside, they sealed it with its lid. When warmed to the desired temperature, after repeated check ins and stirring, you need only pull the handle. The handle caused the pot to tip on its axis, thus having it pour out its content onto the plate in which you plan to serve it on. This definitely made for quite the show and speedy service.

The cooking apparatus above was also used to prepare their mussels, one of my favourite dishes that we were able to enjoy. Fresh Salt Spring Mussels were cooked in the pot with white wine and a healthy dollop of lemon and thyme butter, and that was all it needed. Then after a couple of stirs and a tilt into a bowl, we were ready to dig in. A few mussels were hard to pry open and a few more were salty and sandy, but overall a delicious offering and the one you ought to order during your next visit.

For something with more spice their “Chilli lime prawns” were tasty. Prepared with plenty of garlic, lime, chilies, and Parmesan. Best taken in like a tapenade over the crusty slices of bread it was served with.

If you are looking for something fried, try their bite sized version of fish and chips. Their “Fish fritters” come in a choice of halibut or cod. These golden brown fish nuggets were the perfect crispiness of the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. I enjoyed them with and without the included tartare sauce and ketchup for dipping.

Then before we knew it, we were wrapping up and heading back out, on to the next destination on our jammed pack road trip with #FordSUV. To read this overview, please visit the link below.

A Road Trip with Ford’s 2017 SUVs

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
When compared to a big city like Vancouver, the township of Gibbon Landing is small, with many specialty shops and one of a kind restaurants, you have a handful of authentic choices. However if you are travelling to the Sunshine Coast, I suggest immersing yourself in the abundant seafood of the area, and there is none better than “Smitty’s” located right at the harbour, looking out at the waters in which the seafood you are enjoying came from mere days, or even hours ago. It doesn’t get fresher than this and it shows in the quality of their food. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SMITTY’S
643 School Road, Gibsons BC, V0N1V8
604-886-4665
smittysoysterhouse.com
Smitty's Oyster House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Road Trip with Ford’s 2017 SUVs

A road trip to the Sunshine Coast with Ford’s complete 2017 SUV line up.

SUVs are the fastest growing segment in the automotive world, globally and within Canada. A trend offset thanks to millennials and baby boomers purchasing these vehicles. The former growing up and having children and the latter travelling more. Both like the higher stance of a sport utility vehicle, and the way being in one makes them feel safe and secure on the road. And Since 2009 Ford as been the top seller of SUVs in Canada. People like the selection they offer, given they have an SUV designed for everyone; a fact I would soon discover for myself during this excursion.

Given the above noted reputation, I was most excited when Ford Canada invited me to test drive their entire 2017 SUV line up. And decided the best way to do so was with a little road trip to the Sunshine Coast, located in British Columbia. I would be attending this expedition, alongside a handful of media and influencers. We would convoy our way to the ferry, then across the island to the “Painted Boat Resort”.

To watch the vlog version of this, please visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei for the summarized video.

 

The bulk of us met up at the “Fairmont Airport” in Richmond at 9am for breakfast, and to join up with those who flew in from the neighbouring provinces. The travel well worth the opportunity to drive some of Ford’s newest and most comfortable vehicles, to the backdrop of some of BC’s most spectacular views. Sadly the weather was trying with a morning of heavy rain, hail, and even snow.

We partnered up and paired offed, deciding which one us would be driving first. I was with James of @hellovancity fame and decided to drive first. It was sloshy and rainy, but I love a good puddle and having the opportunity to be suspended over it in a higher sports utility vehicle meant maximum splash-age.

We climbed into our black “Ford Edge”, keyed in our GPS for Horseshoe Bay. And after choosing the perfect satellite radio station to set the tone of our road trip, off we went. One by one, eight Ford SUVs travelled in a pack of black, blue, red, white, navy and maroon.

Throughout the trip we would be able to climb into and drive around in the other SUVs that joined us. They are as follows:

The “Ford Escape” is a compact SUV. It is nimble in its performance and fully loaded with tech features. This made it a great every day vehicle to run errands in, and/or the one to jump into for that drive-in movie you have been meaning to see.

The “Ford Edge” is proudly made in Canada, then shipped world wide; making it a global success story and the SUV that suits a variety of environments and the needs of their driver’s within them. This is the Ford we drove on our way there.

The “Ford Flex” is a great family mover. It is known for its comfortable seats, which make it ideal for longer trips and keeping the kids in them during the entirety of the drive. With a push of a button, the seats in the rear, even swivel backwards to face the trunk. This allows you to utilize the Flex’s spaciousness as a tail gate.

The “Ford Explorer” was the model we drove on our way back. It is the model that helped create the SUV segment, defining what a successful sports utility entailed early on. It felt luxurious being within it, and was my favourite ride.

The “Ford Expedition” is a size larger than “Explorer” above. It is the ultimate family utility vehicle, with increased storage and towing capability, as well as all the latest technology perks. The titanium model even has massage seats for that extra luxury, sadly we didn’t get a chance to try this little perk out.

And in the new year we will be seeing the “Ford Echo Sport” hit the market. It is a mini utility, for those that want something in between. It is currently very popular in China, South America, and Indian. And will be making its first North American appearance in 2018, planning to deliver on to the people what they are looking for.

First stop was the ferry. Where the rain died, but the wind prevailed, and we met up with Diana of @foodologyca. The view was one to be cherished, but the restless weather had majority of us indoors, resting for the awaiting journey ahead. And when we docked off we went to explore the Sunshine Coast, with the weather delivering on the promise of its name, later on in the day.

Our first pitstop was “Smitty’s Oyster House” at the Gibsons Landing harbour for lunch. For the full review of “Smitty’s“: what we had and what we learned from our shell shucking tutorial, please click on the link below.

Smitty’s Oyster House

 

Next we visited a local Gibsons Landing artisan olive oil company, a few blocks away. Here we helped ourselves to samples of their flavoured oils and balsamics. It was fun to be able to mix flavours and create something new. Like a blood orange oil with chocolate dark balsamic that tasted like a Terry’s chocolate orange.

Our next stop was to enjoy the waters by Roberts Creek, where a local yoga instructor led us in some light stretching and movement by the pier. And I must say, anything by this view is automatically more enhanced. We practiced on the mandala, a colourful piece of art, repainted and updated, by the folks working and living within the local community, year after year.

We then stopped at the “Gumboot Cafe” for some light refreshments. Here, warm liquids and baked goods, paired with savoury bites and fresh fruit were on help-yourself platters.

Then back climbed into our “Ford Edge” and back on the road to the “Painted Boat Resort”, where we would be also spending the night. For the full review of our accommodation as well as the meals we enjoyed at “Painted Boat“, please visit the link below.

Painted Boat Resort

 

For what we ate at the resort, please visit the link to my review of their on resort restaurant: “Lagoon“.

Lagoon Restaurant, at the Painted Boat

 

During our stay with them we enjoyed the view with some water sports. We row-row-rowed our “boat” along the lake, taking in the properties and boats at dock.

And attended a workshop with a professional photographer, who gave us a lesson on composition. This was to help us improve our photography skills, specifically when capturing vehicles. Tips and tricks we would later get to try as we went around the resort lot to capture the same Ford SUVs we all drove up in.

When the sun set we enjoyed a caviar tasting, featuring “North Divine Caviar”. This would be my first taste of caviar, and specifically this certified organic and sustainable sturgeon caviar. They showcased their 12g tins of $42, a 30g ran for $96, 50g for $154, and 125g for $371. Although their largest sized offering is a 1kg tin for $2,540.

We learned that it is best to serve caviar with a mother of pearl spoon; if not, anything but a silver plated spoon would do. This is to best preserve the full flavour of the caviar. We had it as it, then over various ingredients like pancakes and boiled eggs with raw red onions, and a chimichurri and/or mayo based creamy sauce. Naturally the eggs tasted fishy alone. I liked them best as an extravagant extra to the aforementioned list.

Our night ended with some stargazing with an astronomer as the skies cleared. He pointed out constellations and planets with his super strong laser pointer. And we took turns taking a peak through his high powered telescope. We kept warm with Ford branded blanket capes. They snapped around your neck with buttons and included a hood for extra protection from the elements. I deemed it the best cold weather accessory, wearing it on the drive home for comfort and warmth.

And before we all turned in for the night we were invited to build our own s’mores, from a carefully selected and assembled bar. This wasn’t just marshmallows, graham cracker, and chocolate. Here they brought together sliced fruit like pineapple rings, nectarine and plum slices, and burlee-d bananas. For chocolate they included peanut butter cups, dark chocolate and white chocolate rounds. There was even peanut butter spread and toasted coconut shreds to be used. And chocolate chip cookies in place of graham crackers, should you want that next level of decadence. Sadly I was only able to make room for one smores sandwich, but enjoying several marshmallows toasted on a skewer, at the fire pit on the patio.

After, we retired to bed for an early start the next morning. James, Diana, and I woke up first thing in hopes of watching the sun rise. We did so by taking the “Ford Explorer” on a joy ride around the town. Exploring view points and putting our new car photography skills to good use.

After packing up, checking out and breakfast we were back on the road, on our way home. This time we were able to keep the black “Explorer” as our ride for our trip back. Back across the island, back onto the ferry, and back to the “Fairmont” from where we started the day before.

Where we were tired, our Ford SUVs remained the easy and comfortable rides that they were when we departed. They are reliable and easy to handle during extended travel. I can see why they are such popular choices for families and those looking for a reliable sports utility. I can safely say if you take the “Edge” or the “Explorer” on your next trip you will get there safely; and enjoyably, with several bells and whistles to make the travel all the more stress free.

Thank you Ford Canada for this opportunity and the ability to “Go Further” with your 2017 SUVs.

 

FORD CANADA
#FordSUV
ford.ca

Vancouver Island Brewing @ Rogue

Celebrating 30-year anniversary of the Vancouver Island Brewing’s Hermannator.

 

Tonight I was invited to help celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Vancouver Island Brewing’s signature beer: The Hermannator. It is so named, after its creator Hermann Hoerterer. A beer once made only for his friends and family seasonally. This award-winning lager takes over three months to produce as it must sit at sub-zero temperatures for long periods of time. The result is a rich malt body with notes of chocolate, coffee, and brandied plums. Which is believed to make it the perfect beer to enjoy over the holiday season. Tonight we would be able to try their 2017 edition along with two other Hermannator variations, popular Victoria Island brews, and even two up and coming beers that have yet to hit the market.

Due to the travel required to the actual “Victoria Island Brewery” from Vancouver, tonight’s celebration would be held at “Rogue Wet Bar” on Broadway instead. A fine destination, already well known for its fun, party-like atmosphere; making it the perfect location to celebrating within.

The decor has been greatly simplified since my last and original visit. To be able to compare the two, click on the link to see how it once looked.

Rogue on Broadway

 

Since then the bar has been transformed. Gone are its cowhide upholstered chairs, its striped booths, and mosaic votive; and in its place the modern bar aesthetic. Now wooden separators divide the open space between lounge and dining area. Each table is set with a “Steamworks” themed glass, converted into a candle holder. Thus giving them room an amber glow with them, which is best highlighted by the red “Rogue” sign that crowned it all. Our group grabbed a serious of high tops, climbing up on bar stools.

The occasion was marked with its own specialty beer list: a “Vancouver Island” only list. As it’s name suggest, Vancouver Island Brewing produces and serves it finer craft beers from the heart of downtown Victoria BC. Established in 1984, the craft brewery is now under new ownership and management. A couple of brewery experts, who originally started their careers at “Parallel 49”; but then moved to Victoria with the dream of building upon this long standing brand. Bringing in new ideas and new life with some rebranding. Some of these ideas are presented within the list of beers below.

Herman has since retired, but in his place, another German brew master with over 30 years of experience has taken up his mantel, Ralph. With this change comes an improvement on the ingredients used in their classic recipes.

The future holds six different rare releases in the new year. Each will be named after a location based on the island, as per their tradition. I am most excited about their limited edition cocktail series. Making beers that taste like their inspired cocktail. This summer they made a gimlet, with the flavour of gin and juniper, recommending the addition of an actual shot of gin for more authenticity. Today we would try a beer that tasted like a “Manhattan”. And there is talks of a “Moscow mule” to come. Anything they hope to release, they test batch, getting customer feedback before launching.

But for now, the menu in hand. There were ten different beer and between two of us, Kenny of @hangryhippos and I, we were able to try eight. We made our selection carefully.

Naturally we had the first three Hermannators. The “Hermannator ice block” was this season’s release. A full bodied and easy to drink beer, that is slightly sweet like molasses. This I liked until I had last year’s release.

The second “Hermanntor” was from 2016 and cellared since last year. The result was the same easy taste as the 2017 batch, but with a more mellow flavour. Once again, I thought I liked this the best, until I had their barrel aged “Hermannator”.

This “Hermannator” was aged in a red wine barrel, and you could tell. You got that deep red wine flavour in each sip, this is the one I want for a lighter dinner of red meat.

The “Burton ale” is a collab with Gladstone brewing in Courtney. This was a strong and hoppy amber ale. A classic flavour that is easy to sip and swish.

On our second flight we had a mix of classics and the ones that have yet to see public consumption. The “Orange cherry rye ale” fell into the latter category. This was the cocktail series beer that was based on a manhattan, I never tasted a beer like this. It truly reminded me of a shaken spirit. It was aromatic and herbaceous with deep woody notes.

“Pipers Pale ale” was named after a solider. The brewery has been making this English pale ale for over 29 years. It was smooth and extremely easy to drink.

The “Dominion dark lager” is their oldest brew, over 31 years since its conception. This is a dry German style lager. Despite its darker hue, it is still easy to drink.

The “Juicy IPA” is another one that they are testing, before releasing it to the public. A very traditional tasting IPA with a clean aftertaste.

To accompany our drinks we shared a few small plates off of the “Rogue” menu. And seeing it was happy hour, we took advantage of their discounted prices that run from 3-6pm daily.

Their “Homemade potato chips” were my favourite. The perfect crunchy and starchy slices dusted in cajun spice and served with a curry ketchup. Naturally this easy snack went fast.

The “Dip trio” was a serving of warm fluffy pita slices paired with sun-dried tomato, charred lemon garlic hummus, and edamame cashew dips. The warmth of the bread made the dips feel even more cold and more frozen than it actually was. They were crumbly and hard to scoop from, whereas I wanted thick and tacky spreads. Their flavours were mild and watered down, whereas I wanted more punchy notes.

The “S&P dry ribs” were disappointing. The meat was overlooked, making it hard to pry flesh from bone. And despite them being tossed in coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper, I still found the two pieces that I had bland. These could have benefited tremendously with a honey garlic drizzle.

Similarly the “Margherita pizza” too lacked flavour. This common assembly of fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, flor di latte, mozzarella, and Parmesan could have used more of all of it. More thick tomato sauce, more fresh herbs, and a lot more salt easily taken from more parm.

By comparison the “Roasted Gorgonzola and pear” pizza was amazing. It had all the flavours I wanted from the above, except a whole lot more exciting. You could taste the roasted pears, gorgonzola, roasted garlic, pickled red onion, rosemary oil, fresh arugula, and drizzle of honey that made up the pizza. It was a perfect balance of salty and sweet, with tang and spice.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Overall a great night when great beer and cheap eats are brought together.
Don’t deny your cravings.

 

VICTORIA BREWING
#VIBREWING #vancouverislandbrewing #hermannator
2330 Government Street, Victoria BC, V8T 5G5
250-361-0007
vibrewing.com

 

ROGUE
602 W. Broadway, Vancouver BC
604-568-9400
roguewetbar.com

Cineplex Cinemas Coquitlam and VIP

The full VIP experience at Silvercity Coquitlam

My partner and I don’t often go to the theatre to watch movies. We much rather the comfort of our own home, to be able to discuss the movie as it plays and to pause it when we need to use the washroom. Not to mention the price when comparing the cost of tickets to a download or subscription to Netflix. Then you layer on the cost of food, should you get peckish mid way through. All of which comes at a greater deal when in the comfort of your own home.

None-the-less we do make the journey when it’s a big blockbuster movie with an large budget, think any Marvel movie or a Tarantino pic. It just seems a shame to watch it any less than the screen it was created for. Plus its good to invest in a date night here and there when in a committed relationship.

So seeing as it is far and few in between that we visit a theatre, whenever we do we treat ourselves to the VIP experience. So far never for the food or the ability to drink in the theatre. But for the convenience of reserved seats and the ability to stroll in last minute without the need to search for your optimal perch. That and the seats are larger and designed for two. With a thicker arm rest on either sides, it creates the illusion of space between couples, allowing them the ability to push up the arm rest that once separates them, to come to together and watch together. Side by side, like you would on your couch at home.

We came 15 minutes to the start of “Blade Runner 2049”, a cult classic, that has been given new life in our modern times, with an increased movie production. And after printing our tickets at the kiosk by the entrance, we proceeded to the VIP lounge. It had a separate entrance, with its own attendant behind a podium. Here they check your ID, as they serve alcohol in this sectioned off area.

Past the doors is a lounge area with bar, high top tables, and couches for those watching a VIP movie, to be able to sit and enjoy the space before or after it. We have yet to do so, as we often opt for the late showing which is coming just in time to catch the trailers and leaving as soon as it is done. Although I have and do like their adjacent washrooms. Here they have a hall of single stalls for VIP ticket holders to use. They were only slightly cleaner, but a lot more private and spacious.

Through the perk you get for paying for a more expensive seat, you can enjoy in-seat service. You can hunker down and servers will take your order and bring you your desired meal, right to your assigned seat. We came early to enjoy it, but failed to factor in cook time, or the fact that others may be utilizing this service as well, causing the kitchen to be backed up. We didn’t get our food until 5 minutes into the movie, when the theatre was darkened and you held your breath as your server traversed stairs in the dark, holding a full tray of food and heavy drinks.

Each seat comes with an arm rest that swings out to be used as a stomach height dining platform. The menus are stored behind your chair, slotted into holders. It is page turner with “shareable” tacos and boards, handhelds like burgers and sandwiches, and entrees with a deal to enjoy 2 for $16. It looked promising enough. Most of which is available in some variation on many bar menus. So already we lowered our expectations, but little did we know there was a level under “below expectations”. It was worse than we thought and my partner even had stomach pains because of the food. But more on that later.

To begin, you have at wave at any one of the servers standing to either sides of the screen. They stand at attention at the very bottom of the staircase, looking up. Keep in mind their ability to take your order ends as soon as the show starts, for safety and possible disruptive reasons. Any one of them come to you, to answer any questions you may have, followed by taking your actual order. Once again our lowered expectations, had us believing that asking for recommendations would be pointless. So we kept our ordering safe.

My partner was expecting an indigestion, hoping he would be disappointed. But that is exactly what he got: an immediate and lingering stomach ache. It didn’t help that when he specified no onions in his “Hickory smoked pulled pork sandwich”, he got plenty of them fried crispy. We ended up sending it back for them to remake. Our food was already one of the last to arrive, after the movie started; and now we had to send it back? All this work, only for him to take a bite and pass on the rest due to disinterested its bland taste.

As a side, he upgraded his fries into a poutine with cheese and gravy, thinking that it would be fairly hard to mess up. We were wrong in this too. This wasn’t the safe bet he had hoped, you could tell this was made without care. Just a lumping of ingredients, one over another. The fries were from frozen, easily identified with each straw’s ashy finish. The gravy was quick to congeal, it thickened and globbed up, leaving the remainder of the fries at the very bottom without any sauce; even if this was just a packet roast beef gravy, it was at least flavourful. The cheese was all melted in a lumpy ball, but at least there was enough of it in proportion to the overall serving.

I on the other hand, wanted to see how they faired with more of their restaurant-ish options. So dared to try their “Popcorn cauliflower”, which they interpreted literally; with actual popcorn kernels, giving things a different texture. The menu listing both being seasoned with real movie theatre butter, but I didn’t get any of that. It was decent as a whole, but after a few bites, it got boring with one flat taste. Crispy bread hiding fully cooked, and still firm cauliflower florets.

With a bar and the need to check ID, I figured they would at least employ a trained bartender, however I was disappointed by my Caesar cocktail as well. This was the saltiest Caesar I have ever had, it made my lips pucker and had my eyes squinting. It was like they knew it would be poorly done so tried over compensating with extra seasonings and spices. It was an assault and one that even the melted ice couldn’t help.

And the worse part of it, the food cost just as much as our tickets did. And we knew that even if we brought up to any of the staff or the manager, nothing would come of it. It is just one of those things you accept, as you should have known better than to order a meal that came to almost $50 with tip, at a theatre and expect it to be good.

If you are hungry I would just stick to the large popcorn and soda combo. The VIP drinks and popcorn cones in their own branded black containers, with discrete detailing. With it, they were clearly trying to dress the experience and live up to the VIP prestige.

As for the movie, let’s just say it is a good thing that I don’t review films.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I would still go to the theatre as a “VIP”, however will never again order anything from their regular hot food menu. Expectations were lowered and it still left me dissatisfied. They are better left as an after dinner activity. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

VIP SILVERCITY
170 Schoolhouse Street, Coquitlam BC, V3K 4X9
604-523-1584

Smash Therapy

I have previously read an article about “smash rooms” and that a location for it that had opened up in Toronto. It is basically a place where you go to break stuff. Imagining all the fun I could have, I had hoped that Vancouver would follow suite, and it looks like my wish came true. Introducing “Smash Therapy”, a new group activity centre in Richmond, BC.

My friend discovered them through their groupon special and picked up a couple of admissions for us to try. We set our date and simply showed up. At 11:30am on a Sunday, we were the only ones in, along with the lone clerk; who proved more than enough to run the place by himself. They have only been open for a month, so word of their existence has yet to travel.

The premise is, they offer you glass bottles and electronics to break at a fee. The menu charges either by quantity. The cheapest is their “Baby smash” which gives you 12 small bottles and 5 large ones to break for $29.99. Our groupon was for this at fraction of the cost. (So if you are looking to try this for yourself in the near feature, I suggest going that route.) And honestly it was more than enough breakables for me. If there were other items and even more weapons to use, I can see the need for more items to break. But this was the perfect number/amount in my opinion. You got the hang of things and broke a sweat, without getting redundant.

Those with a little more rage can take it out with their “Hulk Smash”. At $39.99 you get three more larger bottles and one electronic item to smash compared to the above. The latter includes either an outdated computer or printer, and there was even a cellphone on their shelf of break-ables. In hindsight I think I would have enjoyed destroying a computer the most and could see why the extra item was worth the additional $10, making this the “most popular” of their smash options.

Other packages up-ed the number of glasses and the number of participants. 32 items between two for “couples therapy”. And a group session that ran for $199.99 gave you 82 items. Whereas $199.99 gave you 124. It may seem like alot, but having tried it, I could tell you, it could have been more fun if we lined everything up in a row to go on a smashing spree. To be able to break multiples at a time, given how much you had to destroy in total. With us only having 17 bottles, we found ourselves keeping slow with our pace, in order to elongate and savour the destruction, one bottle at a time.

And if glass isn’t your bag and you rather destroy things with more sentimental value. You can bring your own stuff to smash for $19.99; with some exceptions, as per the establishment’s discretion. I think this would be a great service to advertise as a “breakup package”. Allowing the forlorn to bring in all of their ex’s stuff and have a safe place to destroy it within, and their memory of them by association. And maybe even have the ability burn half of it. Although, as their name suggests, they don’t actually allow you to burn things in their space, just smashing. (I am just considering it for the sake of my premise, and the fact that jewelry, cards, and clothes need more than a bat to break them down.) And if you make this a girl’s night out affair, after all the smashing, as a group, you can then retire to their lounge for some bubble tea and snacks that they server regularly.

I would have also liked to be able to smash other things like melons and various fruits that go squish under the weight of a wooden mallet (one of the handful of tools you are given access to, to carry out your rampage.) For Halloween a pumpkin, watermelons for summer; and tomatoes all year around, as the best fruit to make go splat. However this would require even more clean up, not only of the room, but the coveralls they lend you to wear as well. Maybe if their operation grows they would look into this? Even hurling fruits at a target or slicing them down like a “fruit ninja” would be most fun. One can only dream.

But for now, back to our actual experience, and what “Smash Therapy” actually offers. They are located in an industrial area of Richmond, giving them the space they need to run a multiple service activity centre, specializing in hosting groups. Within their walls they are able to seat larger parties within their spacious rooms. Offering activities like “name-tag” (a game where you chase one another trying to grab the “name”/flag off you opponent’s back). And popular Chinese games like “Werewolf” (a board game using light-up number blocks and masks, in which I know nothing about), and mah jong, the Chinese “card” game that is played with titles arranged like poker hands.

They also have bubble soccer, which gets you playing the familiar sport with your feet, a ball, and a twist. Before you start, you slip into an air filled bubble that you hold up with your shoulders and hold on to with your hands. This extra padding makes body checking more fun, and a popular sport more challenging. We didn’t actually play, but were able to give the suit a try. It was just as much fun bouncing around in them and against one other in combat.

But now back to the reason why we were here in the first place. After settling up at the counter, we were led to one of their back rooms. Here we were given plastic jumpers to zip-up, and pull over our regular clothes. A vest gave us extra padding, and gloves and a mask ensured we were protected with at least one layer of fabric between us and the glass that would soon go flying. Although, realistically it is easy enough to cut through the plastic of the thin coveralls with any random shard of glass. Another potential safety issue is with the masks. With them on, they made it hard for you to breath, it and the increase in temperature from being so physical have you removing layers intermittently. Then there is footwear, or lack of proper footwear. We wore the same shoes we came in with, and luckily both of us thought to wear closed-toe shoes. However we found ourselves continually stomping on the un-avoidable shards that littered the cement ground with them. And a thinner sole could have thicker consequences.

When it came time to smash, a plastic bin is wheeled in, with your purchased quantity of glass bottles. You are given access to two lengths of crowbars, a wooden mallet, and a titanium baseball bat to whack everything with. A cleaver was presented in the room where you got dressed up in, however it was simply a plastic prop for taking photos with.

Now the rest is up to you. You can either place your bottle on the available podium, or rest it on the sturdy coffee table. Or be as creative as your destructive imagination takes you. Smashing them on the ground works or throwing them against the wall. Maybe even throwing it up into the air and swinging the bat at a bottle or two could be fun. The only rule is to not hit the walls with your chosen tool. We weren’t all that adventurous, so kept things tee-ball style. But it just so happened that I entered the building today, having put on pause an unfinished argument with my partner, so this was the perfect way to let out some steam.

To watch our session and see what you expect from “Smash Therapy”, like what we we destroy, and how we do it; please visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei for the quickie vlog version of this post.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
There is currently nothing else like this in the lower mainland, making them the ones to visit for some unique fun. Go alone to let out some steam, or go with a group and get competitive in your smash. Or maybe visit for one of the other engaging games. I cannot wait to see how they evolve and if they bring in additional elements to their service.

 

SMASH THERAPY
140-6851 Elmbridge Way, Richmond BC, V7C 4N1
604-238-9464
smashtherapy.ca

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