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Month: August 2018 Page 1 of 2

The Fair at the PNE 2018

Whenever the PNE rolls around it’s bitter sweet. On one hand I look forward to fun at The Fair every year, trying a whole bunch of weird and wacky foodstuffs. But on the other hand it marks the quick end to summer as the two week long occasion runs you right into labour day. None-the-less it is a tradition for the city, and there is no better way to end the season.

The following are a few of the things I saw at this year’s Pacific National Exhibition and all that I ate there. To skip the reading, check out my vlog recap on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei. The focus is on the most original snacks and the weirdest food combinations.

 

The older I get, the less inclined I am to visit all the showcases. There are plenty of performances and exhibitions to keep one engaged at The Fair, but they are meant of children, and as a result you are often competing with them to try an experience or take to advantage of a photo op. With no sense of first come first serve and the dislike of waiting their turn, more often then not the children win. So I dip in each exhibit hall just to see what’s what. I don’t often take the time to toggle buttons or read placards. So don’t expect that detail below.

There was one exhibit regarding dragons which included giant robotic version from various lore. The four footed dragon, the dragon that stood on hind legs, dragons that flew with no arms and others that breathed fire with T-Rex appendages. There was even the Chinese version of a dragon present: slithery like a snake with the whiskers to match.

The “Popnology” exhibit introduced us to innovations we take for granted, and how popular media has helped shaped technological advances of the future.

There was the first 3D printed car and the iconic one that took Michael J. Fox “Back to the Future”.

You were able to experience a 3D world with the aid of the “Oculus Rift experience”. Where you choose a terrain and were given goggles to be able to explore it 360.

You were able also to speak to aliens via musical notes, control a robotic arm with a joy stick, and play with a giant light bright. You could also step into a virtual koi pond where your movements made the water ripple and the fish run.

A car show was parked outside with vintage vehicles restored, sitting behind velvet rope. You were invited to take photos and vote for your favourite.

We explored the little artisan market of tents and tables which included the selling of homemade jewelry and soaps. But only partook in the bakery therein. “Bake Shop” offered a bevy of breads, bars, and pastries. It was hard to choose, but we narrowed it down to their “Celebration cake” and key lime pie. The pie was more mousse then meringue over crust, not quite the rendition I was expecting.

Similarly, the “Celebration cake” was all show. What looked like a fun sponge with pink sugary frosting was a hard chalky brick and stale sugars. Disappointing, despite getting a dance with the sale.

The rest of the food we had was a lot more enjoyable, we ate as we walked. Stopping at any cart or stall that peaked my interested for the macabre.

The first was “Get Dipped” a stall featuring fruits dipped in chocolate, but what caught my eye was the jalapeño pepper. I thought it would be dipped before our eyes, as the clerk running the booth was stirring a pot full of chocolate. Instead, after we paid he removed a preset dish from the fridge and passed it to us.

The idea of sweet and spicy isn’t a new concept, so I figured it would taste decent at minimum. I liked how crunchy the bite was, but was caught off guard in realizing that the pepper was raw and full of seeds. The later made it spicier than I wanted, and it saw me simply finishing off the chocolate that coated the rest of it for relief from the heat.

“Handmade Burger” advertised a $15 kangaroo burger, but when we approached the counter and offered up money they said it wasn’t available. Sad, but I was able to get my kangaroo else were.

At “Rock N’ Roll” they offered up gourmet burgers such as these kangaroo and crocodile sliders. The order came with three sliders, with the ability to choose which one you wanted to double down on. But they came undressed, and without us knowing there was a condiment bar to help give flavour to the otherwise bland patty. The crocodile was white meat and the kangaroo dark, both no where near as juicy as beef, but given the opportunity and the curiosity, worth trying.

From the same stand we also got both of their “Milkshake Burgers”. These were regular cheese burgers with the addition of ice cream to top them off. A scoop of garlic vanilla or sweet and salty with a sauce. I found the garlic one plain, the sautéed garlic being engulfed by the sweetness of the soon to melt ice cream at its centre. Then there was the clash of lettuce and ice cream in the same bite. It was one I couldn’t enjoy for texture alone. I am not a fan of lettuce in the first place, so to have it highlighted like this was immediately rubbing me the wrong way.

In the second burger the lettuce was more palette-able, hidden under the mask of the sweet and tangy sauce. This played well against the sweetness of the ice cream for a familiar flavour combination.

At “Chicky’s Chicken” we tried the cheesy chicken hearts. Deep fried pockets filled with cheese and chicken hearts. The heart was a tiny ball, it rolled around the pocket so I missed it on first bite. It was good with the salty cheese and crispy wrapper, as they did well to hide the gaminess of the organ.

I was highly intrigued by the “Gold Rush” ice cream and cone offered at “The Parguery”. At $19 this was definitely the most expensive item I had at The Fair today. But being the impulsive and excessive person that I am, I had to have an item with edible gold on it. This was a gold sprinkle encrusted chimney cone, filled with vanilla soft serve and topped with 24 K edible gold leaf and a Ferrero chocolate. The dessert takes 8 minutes to make as the cones need to be made on the spot, which means after its made they need to let it cool a sufficient amount of time before the can pipe soft serve into it, lest it melts too quickly. This is the only cone covered with sprinkles. The gold was a fun novelty and their signature chimney cone all the more tastier with the crunch and sugar of the golden sprinkles, but the unappealing ice cream took away from all of it. It didn’t taste like vanilla soft serve. You didn’t get what you expected, so it left you trying to figure it out.

I preferred the vanilla and coconut charcoal ice in a pineapple from the “Drink a fruit from the fruit” stand. They also offered a watermelon version with soft serve piped into a hollow watermelon slice. Their success here is a great tasting ice cream, great on its own, but even better when combined with some of the blended pineapple juice that was poured into the hollowed out pineapple husk. A messy dessert, but one worth trying.

We searched a long time for this deep fried burger from “Tin Lizzy’s” concession. The name of the cart was hard to catch, but the product was well lit and advertised. It was a well folded pastry dough wrapping a beef patty and cheese. This wheel is deep fried and served hot. I liked the flakiness of the pastry, but would have liked some sauces to dip it in to, and this in between a burger as its patty. The snack felt incomplete as is.

And the night ended on this year’s most coveted weird treat: the cricket candied apple. Take your typical Granny Smith green apple and dunk it in thick and sticky caramel. But then instead of topping it with candy or nuts, you sprinkle whole dried crickets like you would sprinkles. The result, a classic apple with extra protein. The crickets didn’t add anything to the apple, other than novelty. It was quirky, but they detracted from actually enjoying the sweet caramel and tart fruit.

And with that we concluded our night and time at 2018’s PNE. There were many more foods I wanted to try, but alas time, funds, and stomach space were running low. The kit kat fries sounded appealing, and so did a giant meat ball served in marinara sauce. There was a mac and cheese topped with traditional Japanese garnishes like dried seaweed, bonito flakes, and sweet mayonnaise. A hot dog wiener, stuffed into a pickle, stuffed into a breaded and fried corn dog. Bacon wrapped peanut butter cups and chocolate cheesecake mini doughnuts. Ans I was curious how buffalo chicken or banana and chocolate would taste surrounded by a salty corn dog husk. All this is just the list of items I wanted to try because they sounded weird, I haven’t even breached the list of items I want to try to eat lots of, because I enjoy it.

In short The Fair is for everyone. It has plenty of activities to keep the kids occupied, and more to have you learning a thing or two. There are performances for those who want to sit and watch, random stalls and the marketplace for those who want to shop. And for foodies like me, this is a playground of tastes and adventure. Come once a year, if not a handful during their very limited, two week run. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PNE, THE FAIR
2901 East Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V5K 5J1
604-251-7717
pne.ca

Scandinave Spa Whistler, with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

As a wonderful treat I got to take the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for a scenic drive. We would take the sea to sky highway just past Whistler, BC. Our destination: the highly acclaimed Scandinave Spa. A retreat in the middle of wooded BC, a two hour drive worth the commute. The distance has you appreciating the exclusivity of the spa: a secluded spot where you can disconnect and truly relax, as their resort promotes.

But first the drive. Admittedly I don’t engage in as safe driving habits as I should, as I would soon learn behind the wheel of the Outlander PHEV. This clever vehicle teaches you a lesson in driver’s education. A series of beeps sound if you go out of your lane (a probability along the windy roads of the sea to sky), or if you simply forget to switch on your turn signal as you move about from left to right. When the door is left open or ajar the Outlander PHEV sounds, and again if you walk away without securing your vehicle first. Then there are the normal beeps: when seat belts aren’t buckled and when a car passes you closer than you’d like. These are all regular features in a modern car, but you usually don’t get them all in one vehicle, all together. This taught me how poorly I actually drive, so without any intention of doing so, the Outlander PHEV SUV actually improved my driving the week I had it.

As for the ride to the spa, it was an enjoyable one. You drove up roads that swirled like soft serve, you got to put your foot down on the pedal and climb up the mountain, cruising along one of BC’s most scenic drives. And best of all, all in the world’s best selling plug-in hybrid. The Outlander PHEV’s is powered by a 2.0-litre gas engine, two electric motors and a generator. Meaning, the Outlander PHEV can run on an electric motor, and from a full charge it delivers 35 kilometres of electric-only driving. So you are saving money on your every day commute. Using a 220-volt outlet, the Outlander PHEV takes 2.5 hours to fully recharge and using regular 120volt outlet around 8hours.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV got us to our destination safe. A little under 2 hours, was much more enjoyable spent sitting on heated (for me) and cooling (for my partner) cushy seats, but sadly no satellite radio to toggle to between channel’s as we waited impatiently in traffic jams caused by fender benders, a three vehicle pile up, and street cleaning.

 

Fast forward and we got to our destination just in time for our massage appointment. Originally we were aiming to arrive earlier, to be able to enjoy the amenities before our appointment, which would have helped us to relax a bit more. Sadly the confusion with payment method, the lack of instruction on the processes, and no directions to the locker room would have us tense and rushing. Scurrying to change into our robes, travel to the massage pavilion the next building over, and complete a waiver.

During check in at the main counter we were given a stack of towels and a key. Having been to a spa before I knew what they were used for and was able to read between unspoken lines. However, for my partner who joined me this afternoon, this was a whole new experience. I had to be his guide. You are given a beaded bracelet with a key attached, this unlocks the padlock you are given to secure your belonging in one of the lockers. The locker room is dark, although given the number of staff members I saw walking in and out, helping to organize the space, I’d like the believe it’s cleaned regularly. I rather not closely inspect such places should I see something I can’t un-see.

After dawning one of their terry cloth robes, we travelled to the neighbouring building for our massages. From here we walked across a small bridge to their massage complex. Two floors, each with a waiting room where you fill out a medical history form, then leave it on a counter for the massage therapists to discover and call out your name.

You are able to visit Scandinave, and just enjoy their spa facilities, but honestly given the distance to travel, you might as well get the full experience by including a massage in your treatment. Your treatment is customized between yourself and you massage therapist, the price is based on time allotted.

Given that our $210 massage appointments includes the use of the spa amenities and robes, and that if you only dropped in to use the facilities, robe rentals are $13, I expected a more plushier robe. Something softer against your skin, I would have been happy with my robe being of the same material as my two towels. One of which I left in the locker to use after I cleaned up. And one I took with me as a wrap and seat cover for the saunas.

When time you are greeted by your RMT. You are led into a room where you are told to unclothe as much as want and are comfortable with, then lay on their massage table face down, under a sheet and blanket. The massage we got was 60 minutes long. We both selected a full body massage with medium pressure. There were parts  of the treatment that hurt, but I knew it was worth enduring so held firm as the RMT kneaded my shoulder blades, and hard poked points on my gluteus. But it was the arms and specifically my wrists that I enjoyed the most. This action and this experience were helpful in getting some much needed rest for my wrists and fingers. Necessary given how often I am on my phone, holding it and texting with it, using the same joints and muscles to exhaustion from the repeated motion.

Sadly I was in so much comfortable bliss that I fell asleep 3/4 way through, when I was told to flip onto my back. I was woken when my session wrapped up, feeling rested over all, but sad to have not enjoyed the sensation in its entirety.

After your appointment you are able to roam the complex at your leisure. As the spa has a strict no technology policy, I won’t have many photos of the resort itself. This restriction makes sense. The property is beautiful and I can see many people visiting just for the photo op: taking up space, trying to get the perfect shot out of the 55 taken at each of their 5 pools; thus distracting everyone on site. Similarly, for similar reasons, there is a strict no talking policy. If you have to do it, it should be in whispered tones. This makes visiting with a friend or a group of friends difficult. Honestly if given the opportunity again, I will most definitely be coming alone. This is meant as a retreat to unwind, and there is no better way to do that than by yourself. That way, there is no need to entertain another person or accommodate their wants. You visit the saunas or pools that you want, in the order that you want. More on that later.

I would also strongly suggesting coming early to enjoy the facilities before your appointment to get the most benefits. The spa is built on the practice of heating and cooling your body temperature to intense ends of either spectrum rapidly. This is hydrotherapy, it is an age-old Finnish tradition that dates back thousands of years. It is known as an “effective way of releasing tensions in both the mind and the body” (as taken from their website). “The cycle of hot-cold-relax is proven to both energize and rest the body, improving blood circulation and activating the lymphatic system to help detoxification.”

All the above is only if done so properly, which I was too impatient and listless of a person to do so. You start with 10-15 minutes of heat either in one their dry saunas with wood, wet sauna with eucalyptus oils, or hot tubs. After, you jolt yourself with a dunk or shower in some very cold water. So chilled that you can only stay within for 5-10seconds. Then you allow your body to rest for 15-25 minutes. Doing so in a variety of different settings. There were wooden chairs by a fire pit, stone benches by the pools, cloth hammocks, firm mattress, and reclinable patio chairs. You were able to rest outdoors on this hot summer’s day or seek shade in one of their three solariums, which was outfitted with a fireplace.

The outdoor spa is open through the year with solutions to beat the heat in summer, and ways to stay warm in winter. In fact, having seen photos, I think I would have enjoyed a visit in winter more, when the snow is out and the landscape white with a fine power. Although I think it is easier to go from a hot summer’s day into a heated pool, than from a brisk winter’s chill into an icy bath. So there is value in visiting during either seasons for a different experience.

There is little interaction with the staff, yet there were boxes for comment cards and sealed envelopes for gratuity in every room. By the door in the washrooms and on the front desk counter. You couldn’t miss the hint. Specifically in the massage rooms where at the end of your session, your receipt and a cup of water waited for you by a propped up envelope, reading “thank you for your gratuity” in bold typeface. I don’t mind the practice, but I don’t like how strongly they kept suggesting it.

And lastly, here are some tips for first timers: a list of things I wish I knew to do differently.

First, bring a bag to carry your stuff around in. You are constantly moving from station to station, meaning your belongings do to. Each stop has hooks and benches to store, but if you are carrying your towel, robe, slippers, and book or other quite entertainment; that is a lot to tote around. Instead stuff it all in a waterproof reusable bag and save yourself the trouble.

second, plan your relaxation route. There is a map you can reference, but the path in which to go hot, cold, and cool down is in any order, by your discretion. It is easier to go from top to bottom then bottom to top. Meaning the hot tub at the very top, followed by a cooling soak in the chilling pool. Next the dry sauna on the middle level, and it’s cold plunging pool adjacent. Then the wet sauna or another dry sauna, followed by a dunk in their cold water fountain. Then lastly the hot tub at the bottom most level followed by a spill from their cold shower (sadly this one was out of order during our visit). If you are trying to avoid the hot water you can simply grab a seat under the hot sun, or boil a little more by grabbing a chair by one of their roaring fire pits.

Third, I cannot repeat enough, how much strongly I recommend coming earlier if you have a massage appointment. Arrive an hour or two before to allow yourself sometime to relax and unwind from the 1.5 hour windy drive up. Sandwich your massage appointment with a couple of heating and cooling circuits before and after. This way if you are antsy like me, all the time waiting and sitting for each circuit doesn’t seem too daunting. Plus you are absolutely getting your money’s worth this way.

And lastly go alone. The point of this spa is to relax, and there is no better way than being alone with your self and your own thoughts. This way you can go at your own pace, and need not have to feel like you have to stick with your guest or cater to their preferences. After all doing so does become extra troublesome considering you can’t communicate with them verbally.

In conclusion, this was a a great experience that I have been meaning to check off my bucket list. A unique way to take in the scenery and escape the city. A mini road trip made possible thanks to Mitsubishi Canada and the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

 

SCANDINAVE SPA
8010 Mons Road, Whistler BC, VON 1B8
604-935-2424
scandinave.com

Long Table Distillery

Today I was invited to a unique long table dinner by @noshandnibbles, he was gifted tickets and I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to go and enjoy a collaborative dinner featuring gin, with him. This is “The Apothecary Journey”, a one of a kind gin fuelled dinner held on either of two nights at “Long Table Distillery”. In this post we would be treated to “pairings of culinary and cocktail expressions across a four-course meal”.

“Long Table Distillery” is Vancouver’s First Micro-Distillery, opened since 2013. They are “devoted to the fine art of copper pot distilling small-batch spirits”. We would get a glimpse of this in more detail within their beautiful distillery.

The building is all white, on the corner and easy to spot with their black logo painted on the side. They are open regularly for tasting and mixed drinks from behind their gin fuelled bar. They also offer a bevy of drinking accoutrement for sale, including coupes, bitters, and books. Everything you would need to masterfully mix one of their spirits into a delicious drink.

Tonight the distillery was closed for this private event, with tickets purchased in advance. Our small group of 12 gathered around a solid wood long table, trimmed with pine fronds and intimately lit with tea lights.

Tonight’s festivities were hosted in part by the restaurant’s “Brand Ambassador” and house bartender, the award winning Tarquin Melnyk; and Curtis Luk, one of Vancouver’s Top Chef Canada contestants and All Stars.

Curtis prepared all 12 attendees a refined dinner that incorporated a range of botanical herbs and apothecary components that overlapped with the ingredients used to distill the spirits at “Long Table”. Similarly, Tarquin prepared a cocktail to pair with each featured plate. Each drink shaken and garnished to “complement the culinary expressions – in styles of the season”.

Our first course was two, two bite appetizers. They really set the note of the meal to come. “Bundled local tender herbs & greens, lightly grilled and topped with an onion & anchovy dip”. I appreciated the care it took to gather the leaves and to physically bundle them with edible “twine”. The leafy greens were so fresh and crispy, and the creamy anchovies dip the perfect dressing to them. You had the ability to scoop or dip generously, which left you wanting more. If all salads and greens tasted like this, I would definitely be much more healthier.

I should have started with the “Beef carpaccio, berries, and pepper, served on beef-marrow bread”; as the anchovies above were a stronger flavour, thus dulling this gentle bite. The crispy flat bread was sweetened with the slightly marinated berries, they complimented the spices of the tender beef nicely. But on my second bite I went back for more anchovy dip to slather over it.

This course was parted with the “Trapani Tonic” made with Long Table Cucumber Gin, Ms. Better’s Cypress Bowl Bitters, citrus oregano syrup, and Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic; and garnished with Castelvetrano olive & garden fresh oregano. The herbs were previously gathered from our talented bartender’s very own garden. They were so beautiful that after tasting a naturally salty and slightly bitter a leaf or two, upon Tarquin’s suggestion, I gingerly bundled up the remaining sprig to take home with me. The drink itself was a refreshing start, zesty and a little spicy; flavours that paired nicely with the seasoning in our appetizers. A Mediterranean tweak on a cucumber gin and tonic, which very balanced and easy to drink.

Our first course was one of the best mussels dishes I have had to date. I immediately liked that it was de-shelled for you. “Mussels infused in cucumber, lovage and caraway”. Each morsel was fresh, you got the salty brine of the sea creature, but it was well balanced by the fresh, only gently pickled tang of the cucumber. The green added colour and a bit of sweetness to highlight the summery-feel of the buttery mussels.

Its paired cocktail was the “Rosa Súrr”, prepared with Long Table Långbord Akvavit, lemon juice, rose marigold syrup, Ms. Better’s Smoke & Oak Bitters, and a vegan foamer; then garnished with garden fresh squash blossoms and marigold petals. This was a beautiful glass, each topped with more edible garnishes from the garden. To quote @noshandnibble, this was “a gin-a-fied version of a whiskey sour” with a tangy/sour after taste.

In between courses the owner of “Long Table” engaged us in conversation. We learned a bit about the distilling process and what sets his distillery apart. We were even given a bowl of the botanicals they used to flavour their gin, to smell. The aroma was so layered and floral focused, that a handful of the guests suggested making it into potpourri.

Our second course was surprisingly my favourite of the night. It was simple yet the most delicious. “Heirloom tomatoes, fresh cheese with electuary, eggplant, and guanciale”. I have never had such a satisfying tomato salad. Also, these were some of the best and sweetest cherry tomatoes that I have ever had, probably because they were fresh and currently in season. The local cheese from “Farmhouse Dairy” offered some saltiness and the meaty eggplant purée some heartiness with the chunks of salted, cured pork mixed in. I could eat this every day and probably be better for it.

The bridge that connected glass to plate was the eggplant, there was a candied version in the. “Armistice. It featured Long Table Bourbon Barreled Gin, Cynar, tomatillo honey water, Ms. Better’s Orange Tree Bitters, and soda water; and was garnished with eggplant skin. The lemon balm sugar candied eggplant was a treat, it ate like taffy in its sweetness and how it stuck to your teeth. As for the drink itself it was easy to gulp like soda, with sweetening syrup you stir up. It was nice to see paper straws, however they didn’t last if you sipped slow.

The main course was impressively cooked on a hot plate. Twelve plates of Pork tenderloin served over barley, sprinkled with apothecary herbs and spices. This was cooked perfectly. The pork was a beautiful cut, as tender as the softened, cheesy, barley risotto under it. The crisp broccolini offered crunch and some freshness on the otherwise heavy plate. I really appreciated the ratio of everything included. You had the ability to even curate each of your spoonfuls so that you got a bit of meat, grain, and vegetable in every mouthful. It was also a warming plate like oatmeal, especially as it was marinated with warm spices like clove and maple syrup.

To pair with it was the “Amargo Amuse-bouche”, made with chilled Long Table Amaro Linnaeus, sweetened barley tea, Bianco vermouth, and Ms. Better’s Elderberry gastrique & Trans Canada Bitters. The rich and slightly bitter flavour of the barley tea was noticeable. It, together with the boreal bitters with notes of mushroom and hay gave the cocktail its smoky, oaky flavour. Although it was also slightly medicinal with a warming flavour profile.

I liked how dessert didn’t end on a sweet note, but instead our meal worked its way from light and sweet to rich and tart. Desserts was wine posset, stone fruit, and sweet herbs that made your lips pucker slightly, much like the cocktail below did. The sweetness of the peaches were a little overpowered by the lemon juice set cream, with white wine. It was luscious with a hint of cheesecake, but whipped smooth like a thickened pudding. This is a great dessert for those who don’t like sugar.

The “Tsukuba Sidecar” utilizes Pairs of Pears brandy, Long Table Bourbon Barreled Gin, lemon juice, Yuzu syrup, Cointreau, and Ms. Better’s Mt. Fuji Bitters; it is garnished with a lemon peel and a yuzu leaf. This was an cocktail off their secret menu, one that will soon be made available on their fall menu, in September. It was definitely the strongest cocktail of the night, if you didn’t feel a buzz from the for above, you will leave with one after downing this. But alas, many weren’t able to finish the punchy glass. Like the dessert, you were forced to enjoy this one slow. Alone I found the dessert and its drink pairing much, but together in consecutive sips and bites it was harmonious.

 

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.
At $95 per person, I would definitely love to return for any future dinners that they host. A multi-course feast featuring shared ingredients between distilled spirits and food. The setting was perfect and the number of guests ideal. A great dinner party vibe with delicious food. You absolutely got your money’s worth and then some with the value presented. The little touches and home grown garnishes made all the difference. My only note would be that I would have loved to be given a tour of their facilities after dinner. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LONG TABLE DISTILLERY
1451 Hornby Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 1W8
604-266-0177
longtabledistillery.com

Burger 55

During all our visits to Penticton (across 8 years), we have almost consistently visited the same taco shop for at least one of our visiting meals. It shares the same parking lot with a burger joint, across the way. We have often thought about it, but have never actually tried their offerings, until today. We just really haven’t heard too much about this place, not even from the locals that live here. But it is always so busy when we pass by, that it was worth considering today.

The patio was pretty enticing despite the smoke that engulfed it, (smoke and cloud from the fires along the countryside, when we visited. Hence the discolouration in my photos). Yet the red golf umbrellas and the restaurant’s bright orange exterior stands out. Its sign is painted in a bold blue that matches the blue of the patio’s picnic tables. Each table is set with a napkin dispenser and a ketchup bottle. We bared the poor air quality and sat outside. I preferred it to the cold factory-like setting within. This burger joint felt like a Costco concession stand, specifically the one that is located under Rogers Arena in Vancouver, with concrete floors and dim yellow bulbs. They even have a Canucks jersey hanging on display. A quick and easy spot for cheap food, served hot. Except here they boast that they “don’t make fast food, they make good food”, a promise scrawled on their one of their exhaust ducts, visible from the dining area.

If you have never visited them before, figuring out just how to order may be a challenge. There is a blackboard spelling it out, but it’s towards the back in a fairly dim warehouse. And if there is a party seated at the table in front of it, reading the how to’s become even more challenging.

So here it is in short form. You take a menu from off of the wall by the front door. Each is a laminated page, attached to a clipboard with a wax pencil. With it you check off boxes of what you want. The options down the left column are their specials, burgers they have crafted with their favourite combinations. But its your ability to make a burger your own that they promote. You can customize a burger with over 14 patties to chose from including lamb, bison, ahi tuna, and vegan options. The patty sets the price, with a number of sauces and ingredients included in said price, but many more available at an additional cost. These were premium ingredients like Mac and cheese, fried pickles, and/or a grilled peach.

You start by choosing between 7 different bun options including flour tortilla and a whole wheat version 10 different cheeses like crumbled feta and jalapeño harvarti. You can choose how many of their sauces you want in the included price, or go for premium stuff for 75 cents more a squeeze. With toppings you had your choice of 4 between 18, but chances are you will probably choose lettuce, tomato, and then go a little wild with others like roasted garlic, pico de gallo, and/or banana peppers.

They were too many unknown variables for me to dare to customize and pay more for pretty unique ingredients. So I thought to play it safe for my first taste of “Burger 55”. I decided to simply try one of their burgers as how they intended it. Although I liked the idea of making a completely zany burger, choosing what I thought was the most wild option of each category. For example: a bison burger sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches in place of actual hamburger buns with bleu cheese and their house made dill pickle sauce, a curry sauce, and a fig jam spread, potato chips, and beet strings… the possibilities are endless.

Once you have spent the 10 minutes customizing and are ready to take your imagination into reality, you proceed to the counter to pay. They didn’t ask to clarify our order, simply taking the check on the card for granted. However I insisted on clarification, as both my partner and I wanted amendments on our burgers. My partner can’t have onions, nor is he a fan of mustard, where as I didn’t want the spinach in my burger.

You then claim any available seat and wait for them to call out your name when your order is up. I saw some folks enjoying their burgers on a wooden plank with fries. I was hoping of that set up when we got our meal, but ours were wrapped up in foil ready to go. I suspect that we walked in during a busier time of day, as orders made were being unclaimed, and majority of the tables needed a good wipe down. My partner felt the Costco concession was a lot cleaner, and that is telling considering their increased foot traffic. But as soon as the crowd died the manager was out on the floor scrubbing down menus and tables, whilst chatting up his guests.

My partner got the most basic of their prebuilt burgers. “The 55 cheeseburger”, AAA Angus beef on a brioche bun with ketchup, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and aged cheddar. (It normally includes onion and deli mustard too). The bun was cold and definitely not fresh. The patty was thick, but lacking in terms of a beef to bun ratio. The patty round was half the size of the actual bun, therefore you ate the meat and was left with soggy bun and smeared sauces. The seasonings on the beef was at least good, but as part of a whole, the whole need some ketchup.

I got the next step up, “The signature burger” for $1 more. AAA Angus beef on a onion bun with their 55 signature spread, 55 Buddha sauce, Dijon mustard, vinaigrette, tomato, sprouts, roasted corn, spinach, and Parmesan. I made a point to say “no” to the spinach, but still got some anyways. I ended up removing each and every leaf from between the bun halves, along with all the sauces that separated bread and greens. All said sauces made the spinach wilted with a texture I cannot stand. And all this was just as well, as I didn’t end up liking one of the sauces, but was it the “signature spread” or the “Buddha sauce”? The menu didn’t explain much, nor did I think to ask the clerk behind the counter. Therefore, I cannot be sure of which one of these sauces I would suggest omitting, if you were to order this for yourself. But it was the one with a very overwhelming horseradish flavour. So much so that my first few bites had me steaming from the nostrils, I felt that tell-a-tale wasabi fizz in my face. I ended up also adding ketchup to my burger, something to mask everything that I didn’t like about this burger. Sadly, it didn’t work and I eventually just gave up on eating. Although I must say, it had so much promise and already wins with the inclusion of sprouts, and corn. I would suggest loosing the spicy sauces and instead, add in mashed avocado and an egg for a better balanced burger. I did also like the use of the onion bun, but could tell it wasn’t fresh by its dry texture, a thorough toasting could have helped in this regard.

We shared a regular poutine as a side. The poutine was far too salty, there was too much gravy. Besides salt it doesn’t have much of any other flavour. Although if you are eating it in conjunction with my burger above, the poutine has enough punch to compete and offer up its service as a bite between bites, a way to rejuvenate and change the taste of your food between bites.

By comparison their milkshake of the month was the best thing I got. This was a Penticton peach fest Melba shake with berry coulis. The peach part tasted like pie filling with nutmeg and cinnamon in cream, and the coulis gave it sweetness and some depth once swirled in half way. A nice drink that transitions towards dessert.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Now that I know what they are about, I feel I would be able to make myself a better burger. Although will not be in a hurry to return, it is very seldom that you see my not finishing my meal, or at least packing it to go. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BURGER 55
52 Front Street, Penticton BC
778-476-5529
burger55.com
Burger 55 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Snackshot

I have been meaning to check out this Chinese style dessert cafe. Though I am less likely to drive all the way out to the Marpole area just to do so, or for many restaurants in general. So when the timing was right and I found my way out there, I made sure to stop in for a snack.

Here, we were treated with some of the best customer service from any cafe, let alone one where language may be a barrier. Our server seemed aware that this our first time visiting, (it might have been all the photos I was taking). He was patience with us, as we asked all our questions and expressed all our dietary restrictions. There were suggestion and check ins, plus the invitation to return and try a few that he thought we should have had this round.

The interior was just as inviting as he was. It was so much fun. Bold lines and strong colours transformed this open space dining area into a cartoonish cityscape with skyscrapers, Chinese characters in neon, and tiny people in paint. And to bring it all to life, a red paper dragon snaking along the ceiling. It felt like a celebration eating with it as our backdrop.

We grabbed one of their black painted tables, each one is decorated with quotes or frames written/drawn in white chalk paint. When seated we took to reading their novel of a menu. It is lengthy, but informative, helpful for those who aren’t entirely familiar with all the items they are reading. It was nice to know what things were in any given dish, and when you have the option to enjoy it hot or cold. Drinks and desserts are arranged in groupings for easy reading, along with photos that help in the ordering process.

When they first opened they garnered a lot of attention from their spin on the bulldog. This isn’t a margarita and there isn’t a beer waiting for you in it, but this non alcoholic beverage features the bringing together of one drink into another like Ribena into Sprite or ginger ale into fruit punch. We got their most popular, the “Vitasoy milk with red bean bulldog”. When the milk hits the bean you get a milky drink that reminded me of cookies and cream in its colour and taste, more so the “cream” part, but not too sweet. There was very little whole red beans, which I was happy for, so that the drink wouldn’t be too grainy with it mashed up.

And just looking at a photo of their latest dessert special, I had to have it. For novelty alone this one is fun. “Handmade red bean coconut pudding mahjong tiles”, served with a red bean paste dip and rice paper bills in USD and HKD. An interactive dessert with 13 pieces to snack on for $19.88. I was very impressed by the idea and its execution. The details stamped on to each tile was perfect. Together the set looked real enough to play with, but squisher. Even the platter it is served on was well thought out, a mini mimic of a mahjong table with green velvet table topper.

As for its flavour it was a mild dessert, the dip was great at allowing you to decide what you wanted to taste more of: the coconut milk in the tile or the sweetened red bean in the sauce. Though if it were me, I would order it more for its texture than taste. You want it for its jello-meets pudding texture, a fun gelatin to bite into and suck up between clenched top and bottom row of teeth. It was as fun to play with as it was the eat.

 

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.
This is definitely one of those places worth travelling to. A unique spot for some pretty creative desserts, the kind you see online and when you click on the photo to learn more about it, are disappointed that it is only offered at a restaurant in Asia. Cute wooden buckets of tofu, a snack set with 9 different samples of their hot and cold sweet soups, and smoothies. They even have savoury street snacks for those who want a little salt with their sugar. But be warned payment is only possible as cash or Canadian debt, a note that I appreciate being posted on their front door. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SNACKSHOT
7980 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6P 4Z2
604-559-7980
Snackshot  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bows & Arrows Coffee Roasters

Located within her neighbourhood, my guest had been meaning to try this quaint cafe for a while now. Ironically not for the coffee they are know for. Its all grey stucco exterior with caramel colour wood trim stuck out. The name neatly spelled out in black letters above, its significance unrelated to what they actually offer.

This is a coffee bar with beer and wine for those who want a break for coffee and tea. Set up like a coffee shoppe it was well lit with natural light, and well accommodating with plenty of seating across the front bar and share tables that could come together and separate as needed. I especially enjoyed the over hanging plants, the vines and leaves dangling over you as you ate. It was the only visually interesting piece against a white wall cafe with wooden tables and floors to match.

This was a causal setting with the causal service to match. There was only just the one employee behind the counter. You ordered and immediately paid therein. When your drinks are ready you pick them up from the counter. Our plates of food were brought out to us when ready, although that maybe just because we weren’t paying attention, and instead chatting amongst ourselves.

We were told of happy hour when we came in, however the prices for food didn’t change despite the time of day. It was just $1 off beer, which we got two of. Along with our beers we decided to snack on a one salty and one sweet dish.

“Savoury crepe” with lardon, braised greens and puffed rice. We added the egg for $2, which I felt really completed the dish. The soften crepe was salty from the ham and crunchy from the kale, the yolk egg brought it together for a great start to your day. The only other thing I would add is some avocado.

This was not what we expected from the “rhubarb tartine”, despite the word “tartine” means a piece of bread. This was a whole grain slice topped with a rhubarb compote, goat cheese, toasted almonds, and strawberry. It at like strawberry cream cheese smeared over a rough piece of toast. We ordered this thinking it would be a sweet dish to balance out our savoury one above. But despite the sweetness of the strawberries peeking trough, I would classify this as is a savoury dish with the tart rhubarb. Given the flavour of the assembly, I would love to have had a firm and chewy piece of yellow pound cake as the base instead; instead of the hard and grainy toast. As for the bread, I wanted it as part of a hearty cured meat, fine cheese, and crispy lettuce sandwich.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
They serve the community well. When you want to sit down to eat and drink like at a restaurant, but want the easy and light hearted nature that a cafe supplies. A cafe that serves alcohol and beer to accompany their food that is more than just Saran wrapped loaf slices or muffins. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BOWS & ARROWS
4194 Fraser Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 4E8
604-620-7657
owsandarrowscoffee.com
Bows & Arrows Coffee Roasters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happy Hour at West Oak

Today we travelled to “West Oak” in yaletown to enjoy some happy hour specials on their patio.

Truth be told, I invited my guests down here, for the sole purpose of trying their Tiffany blue cocktail. This was drink, (at the time) that had yet to be launched on their actual menu, a sweeter cocktail with a bold turquoise hue and hints of edible silver sparkling swirling within. A preview I was delighted to see on the story reel of “@foodgressing”.

And since we were here and hungry we decided to try almost one of everything off their happy hour menu. Everything minus their soups and hummus.

“Vancouver Island mussels and fries’. Mussels prepared in a white wine sauce with shallots, sundried tomato pesto, and triple cooked house made fries. The mussels were plenty tasty, served in a sauce that is great for dipping. A great deal at $9 for the plate. I just wished that it was offered up with a nice chewy chunk of seasoned bread instead of fries. The bread would have made for a better sponge to soak up all that great sauce with.

The “Crispy calamari” was chewy pieces of squid seasoned with jalapeño, and served with a red cabbage salad sauced with salsa verde, and a black pepper lime aioli. For $7 I can’t complain. Chewy squid, a spicy sauce, salty greens, and a fresh tomato (hidden under all the greens); make for a very balanced appetizer.

“Chinois prawns”. “Chinese style” prawns heavily coated in a house made spicy aioli. The texture and flavour reminded me of ebi mayo except tangier, and with the addition of candied walnuts for crunch.

The “Burrata with prosciutto” was delicious. A meat and cheese charcuterie board with fig jam, dijon, castelvetrano olives, balsamic reduction, and grilled bread. This assembly made me wish I ordered some red wine instead. For my guests this was their first time trying burrata and they loved it.

“West coast beef tostadas”. Grass fed steak, kale Parmesan salad, spiced chickpeas, and pickled shallots. Tender red meat, chalky cheesy crispy greens, and a cracker base for crunch. It was tasty and we ate it all.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
And easy to get to spot with a menu that is good at great happy hour prices. Complicated plates and not just olives for cheaper. Not a destination, but a solid patio for drinking on, and a cozy setting for catching up at. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WEST OAK
1035 Mainland Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1A9
604-629-8808
westoakvancouver.com
West Oak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

St. Lawrence

Today I got to visit one of Vancouver’s most acclaimed restaurants with a group of food bloggers. It’s one thing to enjoy good food with friends, it’s a whole other experience when you do so with others as enthusiastic about food as you are. Eating together, discussing what you are having, while engaging in conversations about other foods. This experience elevated my eating, and I got to learn a thing or two on food trends from those who keep on its pulse.

I have been meaning to check this restaurant out, not only because they have been crowned Vancouver’s best restaurant of 2018, and because their reservations require a month or so advance notice, but also because they serve French Canadian cuisine. My partner is French Canadian, and I have just been to Quebec, thus giving me some knowledge and context to compare what we would be eating to what I have recently enjoyed on my trip.

Walking up to it, the exterior looks like a cinema’s entrance perched up on its corner. It had a black and white 50’s feel: black bars and white curtains. The casual yet refined feel transitioned to the bar within with a timeless appeal.

Inside, the interior has taken on a more homey-cottage approach. Royal blue paint and rustic browns decorated with nostalgia. Oil paintings of scenery and fruit, dried flowers kept erect in pitchers, copper pans hung and floral curtains strung. It was cozy and felt lived-in, a sensation that ran parallel to the food they served: comforting and simple in its refined elegance.

We started with some cocktails. An “Old Fashion” and the “Vieux carre”, a cognac based drink.

As for food, we ordered a handful and shared everything between four. Our meal started with the traditional bread, served with a traditional Quebecois condiment. “Croton” with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In Quebec cuisine, cretons is a forcemeat-style pork spread containing onions and spices. Due to its fatty texture and taste, it resembles French rillettes. This was by far a lot more bolder and spicier than the version I had in Quebec. And when paired with the house-made spicy mustard mayo it was a very bold combination as zesty as the bread was nutty with whole grains.

I was most excited about the “Oreilles de crisse”. I only just discovered this French Canadian version of pork rinds, which I fried up for the first time myself, a mere two months ago. Fried pork rinds with maple syrup and spices. These were a hit with the table and definitely the one you have to order when you visit. You can’t stop with just one. Each curl had the ideal amount of seasoning, the perfect blend of salty and sweet, gently coating a light as air styrofoam crunchy-like crisp. With each bite down, you saw juices oozing out, juices you would lick off your hand with no shame. To quote one of my guests, “they were aggressively seasoned, but in a good way”.

The “Steak tartare, chèvre noire, and pomme gaufrette”. Beef tartare, chèvre noire cheese, and potato chips. The raw beef was acidic with a bold vinegar tang, half the table found the truffle flavour in it too bold, I just wish I got to taste the truffles. I liked the shredded cheese for a different layer of flavour and how the freshness of the greens balanced it all out. The chip was the perfect base to scoop the tartare up with, like dip. It offered a heartier satisfaction along with its crunch, and enjoyable to chew texture. It also gave you more flavour, for those who like things punchier.

The “Quenelle de poison, crevettes and sauce nantua”. Fish quenelle, side strip shrimp and lobster sauce. The table joked that this was like a fancy French fish ball (similar to Chinese style fish balls that you get in hotpot), and one of the most expensive we all have ever had. But being well versed in chewy seafood and meat balls, I can confidently say that this one was a lot more refined. It was almost light and fluffy with its softer texture, like it was whipped into a cream then steamed solid. Although well flavoured with the creamy lobster sauce, I wanted more of the flaky pastry to eat it with. Something to round off the plate and add more crunch. To quote one of my table mates, “this should be rich, but it doesn’t eat that way”.

“La terrine du jour”. The house made terrine of the day was a chicken and duck meat terrine with pistachios. A “terrine”, in French cuisine is a pâté made in a pottery container. It was a delicious meat spread, but I wished it was served with cracker or we had saved some of the bread before to eat it with. Instead it is offered with a un-proportionately large ceramic jar of cornichons, which we weren’t shy to eat as much as we could out of. “Cornichons” is a cucumber that has been pickled in a brine or vinegar. Its pickling helped to refresh bites and lighten up the rich meat paste.

The “Ratatouille and flan au cheddar avonlea”. The Ratatouille with avonlea chedda custard was ordered in order to give us some vegetables in our meal. It offered a great amount of freshness, and made for great in between plate bites, helpful in lightening up the lot. And with the delicious cheese custard on top, this dish ate like a full fledged entree.

Cote de porc, fromage oka and sauce charcuterie. When looking for a hearty entree, the pork chop with oka cheese, and butcher sauce is the one to get. This was one of the most juiciest pork chops I have ever had. Each slightly fatty morsel was well complimented by the buttery potatoes and the rich gravy that it floated on. A well balanced entree that would have you enjoying each bite from first to last, and not regretting the price that you paid for it.

We tried the “Steak St. Lawrence” as well. It was a grilled hanger steak, served with bone marrow, sauce aux poivres, and frites. The steak was pretty standard, it had a tenderness that paired well with the saucy mushrooms. But it was the fries that had you coming back to the plate for more.

“Tourtiere de Ville au cerf”. Meat pies are a stable in French Canadian cuisine. I have tried a handful, fresh and frozen, courtesy of my partner. So it was nice to try this very elegant and dressed up version here. The venison made the serving very dark, plenty of rich flavours with the heavy use of all spice. It was best enjoyed with the pickled beets and the cornichons on the side, to help brightened up the plate. Without it the meat pie was fairly briny, not overly salty, but it did have me drinking plenty of water in between mouthfuls, out of thirst.

One of the specials of the day was the “Crispy veal sweet breads” prepared in a wine and truffle sauce, topped with an onion ring and served with chanterelles. It was an easy to eat dish, despite many who would be queasy from learning that this is a plate featuring thymas glands. Overall the flavours assembled were sweet and bright with the refreshing corn and crispy onion ring taking centre stage for me, and the paste-like sweet breads ending each bite with its distinct flavour. The dish had a comforting warmth to it, great as a side along with some protein and rice.

For dessert we got the “Riz au lait facon l’ami jean”. It was a serving of rice pudding and salted caramel, enough for the table (or 3-4 individuals). This one definitely grew on me. At first I didn’t like the texture of it. The grains of individual rice were noticeable, but the crunchy pecans and cinnamon sugar cookies helped to mask it and give the dessert some cohesion.  I found myself continuing to go back for scoops and scoops, until by last bite became too sweet.

I was more excited about the “Taste au sucre”. Sugar pie is one of my partner’s favourite desserts, meaning I am fairly familiar with it and even know how to prepare it for myself. I liked it plenty with the pool of vanilla cream helping to balance out the sugar, and how buttery the crust was. However, my partner was less impressed with his leftover serving, After a quick spin in the microwave to warm it up, he declared the pie too watery.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
It was a delicious meal, different yet familiar. All the flavours above were a stark comparison to their counterparts, that I had from Thetford Mines (a small town Quebec), and the traditional French Canadian cuisine I had a mere month ago. The workmanship here and the quality of ingredients used had me validating the in price we had to pay. A great place for a dressy and delicious meal. And a restaurant I suggest you bring anyone visiting Vancouver too. Definitely a must not miss opportunity, as Vancouver’s best restaurant of 2018. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ST. LAWERENCE
269 Powell Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 1G3
604-620-3800
stlawrencerestaurant.com
St Lawrence Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Corgi Races at the Hastings Racetrack

The Hastings Racetrack has done it again. This August they have given you yet another unique reason to visit them: they are hosting corgi races for the very first time. Making this event not just the traditional horse and pony show, but incorporating dogs into the mix as well, is such a clever idea.

As we all know the internet loves dogs, and one such beloved breed in particular is the corgi. Known for their fluffy, long-ish, sausage-like bodies, and jiggly butts; these canines have taken the hearts of all those that see them (and this was no exception, in person today). There were many occasions where the crowd went “awwww” in unison, cooing at their loaf-like dog antics.

I want to know whose great idea it was to host such an exhibition. Not only was it fun to watch, but it was a great way to bring many people down to the track, many of which whose first time this was. There, many Racetrack hosts were on site to ease newbies into the scene, including tutorials on how to place their first bets. And believe me there is no thrill like it. The races are fun to watch, but oh so much more exciting when you have something to gain or lose because of it. And with so many ways to play and place your money, there are also so many ways you can win. But naturally, big risks yielding big rewards, hold true here. You can bet on all the horse races, but not for the corgi races in between.

The corgi races are just for fun. All the competitors are armatures, your neighbours’ or kids sister’s doggy. A pet who is more familiar sitting on tufted pillow than racing on a dirt track. And that showed in the races today, with hilarious consequences. This was all for fun, all 30 seconds of it.

All registered corgis came with two parents. One would hold the competing corgi in place, until the flag dropped. Then off they went, scurrying down the lane. A waddle towards their other parents at the end, squeaking toys and rattling bags of dog treats. Each of the four heats had its characters. A few of the dogs went from straight from A to B with no problem, but the majority ran in circles chasing one another to the dismay of their dog parents. The former corgis were naturally the winner and as a result moved on to the next around. The last race would crown the champion between the top two winners of each heat.

This occasion was extra special for me, as I was given the opportunity to wave the start flag for two of the races, a bucket list experience checked off, that I never knew I wanted, until I did it. (photo taken by @meeerk)

In two person teams I was amongst a handful of media attendees that were given the honour and opportunity of waving the start flag before each corgi race. My first attempt was in heat three with @josheats. Then and there, thanks to some mixed messaging, the corgis were set off to run, before we dropped our ceremonious flag. This resulted in a false start, and the need for them to corral the corgis and try it again. Which @josheats and I then nailed. (photo taken by @meeerk)

My second attempt was with @jacquelinechui, having had the practice, this one went better from the get-go, and thankfully so, as this was for the final heat.

For the final race, you could tell all the winning corgis came to win. There was no playing around, they listened to their owners and ran a straight line from one to another.

The winner was: Pepper von Corgi. Her victory included the largest of all the trophies and a gift basket full of edible treats. The winner of all the previous races were also rewarded, they earned small smaller trophies and some dog food as well. Although everyone participating walked away with something for their pet, a great way to thank them for such an entertaining competition.

 

As attendees not only do you get to watch the race, but before and after each heat, you can find the corgis walking around with their owners. Majority of which have no issue with you fawning over their precious race hounds. So for corgi lovers this is utopia as you are surrounded by these lovable pups! I especially loved watching them splash around in kiddie pools of water.

As for food and drink, at today’s very first corgi race there were a few trucks in attendance and many more stands offering beers. By the time we got to it the Hawaiian bbq truck sold out of their chicken, so we only walked away with a sample teaser of what we missed out on.

At the “Cheezee Does It” truck they were grilling and baking up your favourite cheesy comfort foods. Mac and cheese with bacon, fried egg and grilled cheese, and their “train wreck” sandwich with bacon, cheese, and grilled onions.

We couldn’t decide, so got all of the above, between their perfectly crispy toasted sour dough. This was an amazing sandwich cold, I could only imagine it warm when the cheese was still stringy and melty. (Due to our flag bearer duties, we weren’t able to enjoy it best at its warmest.) Everything about this sandwich was perfect, a delicious decadent, anytime snack.

We also partook from the racecourse’s concession: “Paddock Grill”. It sold the typical burger and fries. So between six people we got it all. The bacon cheeseburger, the smokie hotdog, the chicken tenders, poutine, and garlic fries. I liked the latter the most. It was made with real minced garlic, pan fried and sprinkled over top. A zesty offering served with a garlic mayonnaise.

In conclusion this was a great day at the track and a great way to bring those down for the very first time. Given the size of the crowd and the smiles on everyone faces, there is a good chance corgi racing may return for 2019. If so, I hope you get a chance to attend, because there is nothing quite like it. Until then, I look forward to my next visit to the Hastings Racetrack, and the newest way they will be bringing fun to the city of Vancouver.

 

HASTINGS RACETRACK
PNE Gate 6 or 9
188 N. Renfrew Street, Vancouver BC, V5K 3N8
604-254-1631
hastingsracecourse.com

Dîner en Blanc 2018, preview

It’s that time of year again, the most anticipated social event of the summer, as well as (in my opinion), one of the most Instagram-able occasions of the year.

It is the one day in August, just before labour day, that folks gather together to picnic in a park. A unique gathering with a few specific requirements. This year will be my second year attending, and it not being my first rodeo means I know what to expect and am better prepared. But for those who have yet to experience this marvel, here are my “coles notes” version of what you can expect.

First, dinner is had with everyone all dressed in white, hence the name. Those attending commit to this wardrobe requirement. Head to toe, and all the accessories in between. Not adhering to the themed dress code, could have you asked to leave the secured and contained area. The result, a beautiful sea of white to reflect the light from evening to dusk.

Second, the ticket price does not include food, drink, or even the table. You have to bring everything you would need to dine within the park. Tables, chairs, napkins, dish ware, and cutlery. Plus all the food that you would eat. And keep in mind that this is a formal affair so styrofoam cups, plastic forks, and paper plates won’t cut it. Think, what would a “$$$” restaurant have? Some even attend, hauling props, to ensure their seats stands out as one of the best.

For those worried about what to prepare, they can simply order it. The event is so popular that many local restaurants make the food procurement process a little easier for attendees. They advertise for sale, pre-prepared set meals, parcelled up for easy transport. 2-3 courses with entrees and dessert. As for drinks event runners offer bottles of wine for purchase ahead of time.

Then there is the location. The area in which this is to be held is not disclosed until an hour or two before the actual event. It will always be downtown, so you can at least plan for that much.

Then there is the potential for rain. The “Diner en blanc” is hosted rain or shine; and being the city known as “Raincover”, it means there is a possibility that it may rain on the day. And because you have paid for your ticket, and maybe all the furniture you need; you are likely to not want to miss this for a little rain. So plan your rain appropriate backup outfit. Where can you find all white rain boots, umbrellas, and/or waterproof coats?

Your ticket cost includes all the entertainment the showrunners provide. Multiple live musicians, dancers, and artists. You bring the dining room table and they bring the dining room, creating a lavish setting to match.

Once again, having been before, I can confirm that all the effort of above is worth it. This year, I even went so far as to purchase my dress months before, in anticipation. Last year I made the mistake of getting my dress last minute, meaning I had to make due with one that was too small for me.

In short there is nothing quite as charming as this event. It’s hard to describe, so best to see for yourself. If you haven’t gotten your tickets, it is not too late. They have now opened their registration to the public. Below is the a link to said page, for those interested. See you there

 

LE DINER EN BLANC 2018
When: Thursday, August 23, 2018
Where: Secret location, to be revealed on event-day
Price: $43 (plus $9 membership fee)
Tickets: https://vancouver.dinerenblanc.com/register

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