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

Month: May 2019 Page 1 of 2

Steveston in the 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium

Richmond is knowns as the island city and when many think of it, they think of a strong Chinese population, however that only rings true in recent years. In reality, Richmond has a long history that began with its settlement as a Japanese fishing village, and today I would get to experience some of this rich history in this, our self guided tour of Steveston Village in the 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium.

I often take for granted the eligibility of our city as a destination. Throughout the year many tourists flock to our shores to explore all that our Lower Mainland has to offer: from majestic mountains and sparking waters, to towering trees, sprawling cityscapes, and ethnic hubs teeming with diversity. And what better way to appreciate the later than with a drive around Richmond. And what better a time than when Vancouver’s gas prices are the highest in all of North America, and I have a hybrid vehicle for the week.

Standard on the Ford Fusion Energi is the EV button, this lets you switch between 3 modes, giving your the ability to go from EV Now, Auto EV, and EV Later; dictating how your drive and how your fuel is consumed.

Although there aren’t many places to charge and electric or partially electric car. The city has yet to catch up with green vehicle trends; or hear the desire of consumers wanting to spend less on fuel, while helping the planet by running less emissions. None-the-less I was able to find some outlets in my apartment’s unground parking, to fully charge the Fusion Energi daily. A full battery gave me more than enough for my daily commute to and from work, with stops for meals and grocery store excursions in between. And when there was nothing left, the regular gas engine switched on seamlessly to get me that much further. And after the course of a week including all the stops in this post, I only used 1/4 of a tank. And that’s a lot when you are facing a $80 fill up; where in between traffic and fuel economy, you spend more on gas versus groceries.

But back to our self directed tour of Richmond. Our first stop was the Larry Berg Flight Path Park, enroute to Steveston. This is a patch of green designed to best enjoy the view of all the planes flying overhead (YVR, Vancouver’s international airport is located in Richmond). There, there is a recreation of the earth that you can climb, and signs that you can read to better understand the significance of the land you were standing on.

Then it was back in to the car, for a quick zip to Steveston. But on this long weekend, the village was crowded and busy, and parking was scarce and tight. Luckily the Ford Fusion Energi was nimble and equipped with Ford Co-Pilot360™. This is technology that includes Adaptive Cruise Control and Stop-and-Go. They help to detect traffic changes, then responds to them accordingly. The Fusion Energi also comes equipped with a lane keeping system, blind spot warning, pre-collision assist, and a rear view camera to ensure safety when reversing. All this technology takes the anxiousness out of driving for a less experienced, or more cautious driver.

The Ford Fusion Energi Titanium also comes equipped with “SYNC® 3 AppLink™” with “Waze”, meaning it is now easier to use the popular navigation and traffic app, that you didn’t know you needed. And by accessing “Waze” through “SYNC 3 AppLink”, you can collaborate with other users to outsmart traffic and the police, by sharing information for the best routes, and the ones that avoid speed traps. You also receive real-time alerts about accidents, road hazards and traffic jams.

All the above had us driving safely and more strategically. So much so that we lucked out, and found on a spot to park in, right by the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, which was also our first stop in Steveston. Built in 1894, the cannery was once the leading producer of canned salmon in British Columbia. And today its memory lives on in this museum. It is an interactive way to learn and remember the men and work that went into the Canada’s West Coast fishing industry.

The same equipment that was used back then, is available here. It lays out the cannery process from catch of the day to cans with eye catching labels.

If you get hungry in Steveston, “Pajo’s” is the place to go. They are known as one of Vancouver’s best places for fish and chips. But be warned, expect a line. Everyone wants a taste of the catch of the day, battered and deep fried with a squeeze of lemon.

If you rather prepare your own fish, get some fresh from the fishermen and women that dock their boats at the Steveston‘ Fisherman’s Wharf. Here they offer their spoils of the day over ice.

Covered in tarp, the dock becomes a marketplace. Shrimp, pollock, and octopus; but the most popular was the currently in season, spot prawn. These sweet sea crustaceans are best eaten raw.

Don’t like fish and chips? Or looking for something different, try “Steveston Pizza Co.”, better known for their over the top pizzas. Traditional trick crusts piled high with the likes of shrimp, crab, and lobster. These babies do get outlandish with a price tag to match. For more details, visit my restaurant review below.

Steveston Pizza Co.

 

Our next historic tourist attraction was the “Steveston Interurban Tram”. An actual tram car that you could enter into and explore.

Built in 1913, this and other such trams contributed to the development of Richmond’s city centre. But this would only last for 45 years, as the time of the tram came to an end with the explosion of automobiles on the roads, coupled with the expansion of new suburbs not serviced by rail. As of today, there are only 7 BCER operated interurban trams left. Of the 28 original, 1200 class tramcars, 5 survive today including Car this one in Steveston.

Steveston is also known as the backdrop for the popular tv drama “Once a Upon a Time”, and fans flock to the seaside town for photos with their favourite landmarks. Like the Steveston Antique Mall, which moonlights as Storybrooke’s clock tower. And “Granny’s Diner” in the show is the “Cannery Café Seafood House” in real life.

Next, we visited the Steveston Museum and post office. It was erected in 1905 during the cannery boom, where it housed Steveston’s first bank.

It now portrays the story of Steveston, as a fishing and farming village with Japanese and Chinese artifacts reflecting the presence of these cultures. I most enjoyed the Japanese zen garden out back.

For more on Richmond’s rich fishing history, you can visit the “Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site”. This is only a 5 minute drive away from Steveston Village. Here, they have guided tours available and actors/historians dressed in periodic wares, recalling history with actual artifacts.

I most enjoyed the full furnished homes that gave you a look at how Japanese immigrants, who came for work at the shipyards, lived. The manager and his 10 children in their more luxurious one bed room home, versus the 15 labourers crammed into one dorm.

In short, if you are looking for something to do this summer, or if you want to explore like a tourist on a budget, the scenic and historically rich Steveston deserves your consideration. All of the above attracts were free to view, and all I had to pay for was the food I consumed. And if you have a great hybrid like I did, you save even more, by not having to pay for gas. Thanks Ford Canada for the inspiration and the fun long weekend exploring Steveston like a tourist.

https://www.ford.com/

Beeswax wrap work shop

Today I was in Kitsalano learning how to make my own beeswax food wraps, the new way to reduce waste while keeping your food fresh. This was a free workshop come to life thanks to a grant from “Neighbourhood small grants” (link below). Everyday folks like me and you submit their project/ideas. Each one is reviewed and the ones approved get up to $500 worth of funding, to see their plan to fruition. This is for non profit so they will always be free.

So today I was one of a handful signed up to learn how to make their own beeswax wrap. This was the environmentally friendly way to replace saran wrap, and help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the landfill.

This began as a passion project for our teacher/host Ellen. She was gifted a few such commercial grade cloths from a friend, and when looking to purchase more, found out how expensive they really were. So through trial and error she managed to recreate her own beeswax wraps. And today she was here to teach others how to do the same; and not only save money, but the environment too.

You begin by choosing your desired fabric in 100% cotton and cut it down to size. You pick and choose however large or small you need your piece(a) to be. A range of sizes is best to cover sauce dishes to casserole pans. There is no right or wrong size, only the size you need.

Next you shave and shred bricks of beeswax. You can get some from “Main Street Honey Shoppe”, and actually don’t need too much to coat a square of fabric. And the consistency and size of each curl doesn’t actually matter, as it will all be melted in the end.

Next you will need a hot iron, and a surface to iron on. Between two sheets of parchment paper you evenly sprinkle your shredded wax shavings over your desired cloth. One piece of wax paper at the bottom, and another over the cloth and the wax, on top.

You iron, melting the wax and dragging it across the entirety of the cloth. The goal is to have wax coat every inch of the fabric. And you only need to coat one side as the melted wax is fully absorbed into the cotton cloth.

After fully coated in wax, you remove your new beeswax cloth from in between the pieces of parchment and allow it to dry. They dry quick and you are ready to use it to wrap any thing right away. Any container, any leftover, any piece of half eaten fruit or vegetable. You can even use it to wrap crackers or small snacks in place of a zip lock bags. And the best part is that they are completely reusable. They keep for a year, or as long as you see fit. Ellen has been using hers for over a year now.

This was such a quick and easy workshop, and one that is useful for years to come. A d I hope you found this recap useful in recreating your own beeswax wrap.

And if you are interested in hosting your own small community project, visit the link below and fill out an application. The Vancouver Foundation works from February 9th to April 9th, so mark it on your calendars, and bookmark the page for other such projects to participate in for free.
http://neighbourhoodsmallgrants.ca/

Van Science Social 2019

Today I was invited to a behind the scenes look at some of Vancouver’s inspiring science hubs. We were going on a field trip to meet scientists and innovators from across the province. This was done with the goal of connecting social media and its audiences with the “wonderful and nerdy world of science!” This is the “Van Science Social”.

This year’s theme was the “future”, in celebration of Science World’s 30th anniversary. The occasion had us looking to the future, with the belief that it all is rooted in nature (pun intended). This trip included a stop at Vancouver’s oldest research garden, an urban nature exhibit; and Science World’s own feature exhibition, that looks at mathematics in nature.

Our day began at Science World, where we were given a warm welcome and a light up umbrella, that would protect us from today’s downpour. We heard about the future of Science World and what they do in and out of their location, to help propel the advancement of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics). Science World President and CEO, Scott Samson spoke passionately about giving kids located in the outskirts of our province, the same learning opportunities as those whose parents own a Science World membership. He gave us impressive statistics on how many they currently reach and teach outside of their dome.

Then like school children we funnelled into a tour trolley, enroute to our first destination: UBC’s botanical garden, the oldest research garden in BC. Here, we would learn what is available and growing in our own back yard.

We dawned recyclable ponchos and walked the garden grounds to sprinkling rain. And in groups, we got a taste of the team building activities they offer as workshops. Trust games and collaborative challenges requiring communication in this serene setting.

But UBC’s botanical garden is more than a pretty place to take a walk in. These grounds are home to many documented plants from around the world. And the garden serves as a platform for conservation and research efforts. This living museum has each plant and tree life tagged with a number, and logged into their database. It is recorded when the plant material becomes part of the collection and where it originated from; all with new species and varieties being added regularly. This is done through research expeditions, and in conjunction with other botanical gardens around the world. Done in hopes of building pockets of biodiversity, where green life flourishes in their natural habitat. “Biodiversity” is taking plants out in the world and protecting them in another spot. These gardens share seeds and help one another collect samples, to have as many back-ups for plant material as possible.

The garden also hosts an original cutting of the “golden spruce”. A famous tree (with its own book) that has great significance to indigenous communities. A cutting of it has flourished to an full fledged tree, and it is interesting to note that because it is growing in a different climate, it is adapting to its new environment and is no longer golden in hue.

In total there were over 30 thousand different plants, with many varieties I have never seen prior to today. And we didn’t even get to explore the full extent of the garden, like their Asian plant garden and mountain plant section. I will have to come back to do just that.

Our tour continued with their “Power up in the trees”, tree walk. Here, we traversed a storey off the ground; hanging on to a wobbly, but incredibly sturdy arial trail system. Made from aluminum, it is built with sustainability in mind. Giving tour opportunities, without having to disrupt nature.

Nine platforms on tree towers have you circling the open garden. Eventually it does descend and you wobble back down to the ground.

We concluded the outdoor portion of our time at UBC, enjoying a nice healthy lunch of mixed greens, wild rice, and oceanwise salmon in a butter sauce.

As we finished up, we heard from Science World’s marketing team and our hosts for the day. They spoke to their initiatives to further adult attendance at the dome. Not just parents with their kids, but adults to visit on their own. There are plans on utilizing the IMAX theatre more, as the world’s largest dome theatre. With plans to digitized it so that they can broadcast programming that speaks more to current events and society’s issues. To invite guests to come and learn, then use their planned forum space to discuss and enact.

Then it was back onto the trolley for stop number two on this year’s Van Science Social field trip.

We arrived at the Vancouver Museum, located in Vanier Park. Most noticeable as the building shapes like a Haida hat. This is Canada’s oldest civic museum. They are in the business of telling stories, and today we were here to hear the ones regarding interactions between wild animals and people. A retelling shared through writing and taxidermy in the showcase, “Wild Things”. And we were lucky enough to have the curator of the exhibition giving us the tour.

There is a room that simulated the sounds and feeling of rain. Like a walk in the wet woods, with a crawl through entry. Here you rested on beanbag chairs and listened to the water dripping and pooling, watching projected droplets drip on to a tarp. This was my favourite.

The next room featured salmon printed on acetate sheets, “swimming” with the help of fans.

The owl room was the curator’s personal encounter with an owl. Her experience written and simulated for all to share. You walk into a dark room and up to a lit screen, only to realize it is you that you are seeing on it. Then you look in the camera’s direction, only to be caught off guard by the owl perched above. This, a very similar sensation to what the author felt.

The deer room was the most memorable, a curated table that featured an elk as the guest of honour, with more elks on the printed wall paper and table cloth to match. This story spoke to traditional deer hunting practices and being thankful for the animal, cleaning it and sharing it with an entire village. Every part is used and nothing goes to waste.

The bird wall was for climbing. You perch yourself at various points and peep through holes to catch glimpses of feathered fowl.

And the remainder of the exhibit was a collection of taxidermy animals accounting for all the wild life that can be seen in our urban city; as well as a map with flags indicating where they were spotted.

We also had the opportunity to explore the other exhibits that was currently running. Like “Neon Vancouver, Ugly Vancouver”, recapping Vancouver’s history through glowing lights on billboards and awning signs.

And “Haida Now”, showcasing 450 artifacts from Haida Gwaii.

The series of children’s art collected from an Indian residential and day school was heart wrenching. I took the time to process what I saw. Taking advantage of the quiet space the museum provided, for those with as strong of a reaction as I had. Out of respect for the subject material I have not taken any photos, but instead encourage you to read their stories for yourself.

And of course the history of Vancouver told through artifacts in their permanent exhibit. This was a story of expansion and immigration told through every day objects and clothes long forgotten.

Then it was back on to the trolley for our last ride.

Here, we were transported to Science World and given free time to experience “Exploration of Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze exhibition”. I have actually been to the maze previously, so will defer to my original post below, but include a few new photos for your digestion.

The Mirror Maze at Science World

 

And then our full day ended with a reception, where we nibbled on catered bites and sipped on wine and beer. Cured meats and hard cheeses with crackers, spring roll bundles, miniature burgers and quiches, and chicken salad tarts.

But the feature was the celebratory cake. A two tiered work of chocolate and cream, sculpted to look like Science World’s dome in fondant. What a way to remember its past and look towards its future. And I am personally looking forward to the more adult themed reasons to visit the city’s most iconic dome.

Thank you Van Science Social for sending me on this field trip. I forgot the joys of missing “school” (work) for the day, in lieu of learning a different way.

Seafood Festival 2019 Preview

Did you know that BC has its very own seafood festival? Which should be no surprise given our position by the Pacific, and how many make their living off our coasts.

So once a year the bounty of our oceans are celebrated with a week’s worth of seafood themed events and going ons. And it’s not just eating it; so if you vegan, there is still plenty for you to enjoy. Festivities include whale watching to sport fishing excursions, sail boat races to guided animal encounters. The latter includes Killer Whales, Humpbacks, Dolphins, Sealions, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles, and Colourful Seabirds in their natural and majestic habitat.

You can even get a ride on a yacht or helicopter! The former has you enjoying a day of sailing in Comox Bay and the Straight of Georgia with an experienced local skipper; and it even includes a picnic lunch. With your helicopter tour you can choose your sky high scenery between the city, island, and the famed Commox Glacier.

But for the foodie, there is of course many ways to experience the seafood fest with your tongue. Like a gin and oyster social, where you slurp your fresh oyster and wash it down with some “Unruly gin”, poured right into the shell. There are tours to take, experiencing local Comox Valley culinary with appies and your choice of wine or craft beer at 3 different restaurants, all in one night. And “Oceanfest”, a celebration of the ocean by the ocean; with live music, free snacks on the pier, and a great view of some sailboat racing. But for something more dressier, you can purchase tickets to a 4 course dinner paired with wines from “40 knots winery”.

So if you are looking for that June getaway in our own backyard, this is the one to get excited about. And if you visit their website it makes planning for your trip a breeze. With hotel suggestions and itemized lists of things to do, there is to keep yourself and your party busy on the island from dusk to dawn.

I will be attending for my first year and have already signed up for the following, although will definitely be attending other events that come my way. So be sure to follow me as I post live on Twitter and Instagram; and of course blog and vlog it all in recap.

I am really excited for the local seafood producer tour, to be able to get a tour of the Manatee Holdings Hatchery and the Fanny Bay Oysters Plant. I will definitely be at the “Shucked! Happy Hour;” the kick-off to the weekend where local oyster producers will showcase their BC coastline goods. While “Shucker Paddy” will be there “shucking” off his Guinness Book of World Records skills. And I can’t miss the “Baked n’ Boiled! Kitchen Party and Concert”. A giant seafood boil with plenty of simmering local shellfish to be eaten with your hands, paired with craft-spirit tastings and music from “The WhiskeyDicks”.

For more details and more reasons to start planning your trip to Commox, June 7-16th visit the link below, and I will see you there!
https://bcseafoodfestival.com/

All the photos pictured above are not my own. But provided by the #BCSeafoodFest for the benefit of this post.

Cloverdale Rodeo 2019

May’s Victoria long weekend marks another Cloverdale rodeo, one of North America’s longest running rodeos and country fair. And on this, its 73rd year it returns with plenty of competitions, live entertainment, food, and fun for kids and adults of all ages. We visited opening night and there was plenty that we didn’t get to see with scheduled performances and live exhibitions, so I do suggest planning to visit across multiple days in the future. The following is what we did enjoy and a few things to look forward to for the rest of the weekend, and next year.

The main attraction is definitely the Invitational Rodeo, featuring the world’s best Cowboys and Cowgirls, competing for cash prizes in this roughstock rodeo. Roughstock refers to horse and bulls not kept for meat, but instead for events like Saddle Bronc Riding, Bareback Riding, Bull Riding, and Ladies Barrel Racing.

The rodeo is like any other sporting event with the performing of both the US and Canadian national anthems to begin with, but with an opening ceremony that has flag bearers marching on horses as well.

Saddle Bronc Riding, Bareback Riding, and Bull Riding have contestants aiming to stay on their hoofed animals for no more than 8 seconds. Eight seconds is enough time for the judges to critique each rider based on their ability and flare during the bucking. Bronc riding can be either done bareback or with a saddle, while the horse attempts to throw off the rider. Only men participate in the above mentioned sports, but the women do have their own event; more on that below.

After each round of competition the winning rider takes a lap around the pen. They are also available after the rodeo for a meet and greet, where they take photos and sign autographs.

And unlike any other sport, a rodeo has clowns. Rodeo clowns in proper cowboy boots and a purple cowboy hat. They not only entertain the children with their painted faces and wrangler overalls, but they also stand at the ready in case a horse or bull needs to be distracted, and the rider pulled from harm’s way. But best of all, in between matches, they pass out lollipops to the crowd.

Ladies Barrel Racing is more about delicate accuracy; it has one rider on her horse going as fast as she can, while circling 3 strategically placed barrels. Knocking a barrel over adds 5 seconds to their time. And 5 seconds is a lot when the winner is the fastest to complete the track with no mistakes.

There is even a bucking event for the kids. Mutton Bustin gives 5 children in the audience the opportunity to ride an adult sheep. Children 3 years and older, and under 45 lbs. They must be wearing a long sleeved shirt, long pants, and running shoes; and are equipped with a helmet for safety. This portion of the rodeo was quick, the kids get on and fall off immediately. The result, a small tumble, and all the sheep who have lost their rider gathering together in the opposite corner. Like all the other rounds, time matters here, and the kid on the longest, wins.

The other events/shows are scattered around the fair grounds for spectators to approach and watch. Like the “West Coast Lumberjack Show”, performing all around the work since 1982. Strong men in flannel compete head to head in competitions such as the chair carve, hot saw race, axe throwing, log rolling, and standing block chop.

There is also musical entertainment between two live stages. The “Lordco stage” is located outdoors in the food truck area, with a congregating audience, by the drink garden.

And an indoor stage set up in the Agriplex, that is transformed into “Longhorn Saloon” for the long weekend. Here, there were more bars and a large dance floor.

If standing and watching isn’t your speed, there are plenty of games and rides to have your adrenaline going. Fan favourites like the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round are present, along with plenty of high flying and fast spinning rides. There are also plenty of games to test your skills and win stuffed prizes at.

And like any good fair there are plenty of deep fried and sugary sweet snacks to help keep you going all day. Majority of the vendors drove up in their food trucks, and have parked for the weekend. Many were familiar sights that I remembered from past years at the PNE. Like a gourmet poutine truck, one that offered up variations on the classic Mac and cheese, deep fried chocolate, mini doughnuts, and there was even a truck offering up bubble tea.

We enjoyed dinner at “Super long hot dogs”, serving up a foot long beef wieners on buns that match in length. My guest had the classic topped with fresh fried onions.

And I went for the new “King Spammy” topped with spam and pineapples warmed on their grill. This was the first time the employees working this stand had to make this; they tried their best, but this did not taste like a $13 hot dog. It was missing the cilantro that the menu listed, and the spam left in slabs were a nuisance to eat. As for taste, it tasted exactly as it sounds and it was lacking. It could have used some sweet mayo for moisture and a sauce for flavour. I found myself dressing it like a typical hot dog with the typical condiments of ketchup, relish, and mustard.

I had to try the new flaming hot Cheeto corn dog from “Chicky’s chicken”. This was your typical hot dog wiener battered in a sweet dough, coated in cheese; then rolled in crushed up, neon orange coloured Cheeto dust. It was salty and sweet with a touch of heat. But the flavour wore out quick, and I found myself craving for a sauce, something tangy to dip in, like sour cream.

But my favourite was the barbecue from the “Rib fest”, where award winning BBQ vendors were firing up their grill and offering up saucy cuts of meat.

There was also plenty of drinks to purchase. Plastic cups of wine, beer, and cider; varying ounces at $7.50 a serving. You purchase tickets from the booth adjacent, then redeem them at the pour bar.

And for those who want to do a little shopping, there is also a handful of vendors selling home made goods, services, and clothing from tented stalls. Soaps, dyed wraps and scarves, hammocks, and cowboy hats; to name a few. But be warm, many of them are cash only.

In short the Cloverdale rodeo is a fun tradition and a great way to get your family and friends out and about in Surrey. And every night, festivities end on a high note with a fireworks show, visible from any point on the fair and rodeo ground. And that itself is worth coming out for.

 

CLOVERDALE RODEO
6050A 176 Steet, Surrey BC
604-576-9461
www.cloverdalerodeo.com

Edible Canada, revisit

My latest visit to Granville Island had us stopping up iconic Canadian restaurant “Edible Canada” for dinner. And today we tried enough new dishes that I thought it worth documenting in a revisit post.

We arrived a little too early for their 5pm dinner service, but were still invited in for a couple of drinks while we waited. I was sold on their special of the month. A “Double espresso martini” that our server raved about. I don’t like coffee unless it is as a dessert, so this was lovely. Good with its cold brew, but not uniquely Canadian, nor is it something I couldn’t get else where.

I suggested that my guest get one of their caesars, as a great introduction to the restaurant, seeing as it was her first time. The “Maple bacon Caesar” with Stealth vodka, Clamato, Worcestershire, sriracha, candied bacon and a seasoned salt rim. A classic flavour made their own with their candied bacon garnish. Once again I wish the drink itself had a more unique personality.

For food I had the “Quebec duck tartare”. Raw duck with kumquat, gin, juniper, cucumber, radish, pickled ramps, and soy; served with tapioca crisps. The raw duck itself didn’t have much flavour, a little gamey and a lot fatty. And it was the vegetable sides that were the prominent notes. This was best enjoyed with their complimentary collection of salts gifted to each table. This was a new touch that my guest and I both appreciated and took advantage of.

Regular sea salt, spicy molten salt, and truffle salt. We had a pinch as is and could fully taste all the promised flavours in each grain. A few more pinches enhanced the above and the burger below. In hindsight I should have bought a pack of it to go from their neighbouring store. A gift shop of Canadiana ready to be bought up by the tourists that dine with them. And in doing so earn 15% off their purchase.

“Dry aged pemberton beef burger” with onion jam, crispy onions, aioli, butter lettuce, field tomato, and aged Canadian cheddar, all in a brioche bun. It comes with your choice of salad or fries, my guest got the former, but I would have gotten the fries, and added a fried duck egg for $5 more. The burger as a whole was good, the patty being the stand out of an otherwise standard burger build.

And we made sure to save room for their “Maple doughnut”, I read “crispy duck skin” in the description and was sold. House made yeast leaven maple doughnut with crispy duck skin, and an apple white chocolate sauce. These were balls of chewy fried dough that reminded me of Chinese deep fried mantou, with a heavy coating of powered sugar for a nice textured crunch. The light apple flavour from the creamy whip it sat in was nice, but could have used more flavour and sweetness for a dessert. I wanted an apple caramel sauce to double dip these balls into instead. And the saltiness I expected from the duck skin was non existent. A nice novelty but I wanted more from this dessert.

 

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? – Yes.
One of my favourite places to recommend to anyone visiting from out of country and wanting a Canadian-esque experience. An ever evolving menu that has me returning and cataloging my visit. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

EDIBLE CANADA
1596 Johnston Street, Vancouver BC, V6H 3R9
604-682-6681
ediblecanada.com

Yuu, traditional Japanese tapas

It feels like summer in spring and one of my favourite fusion Japanese tapas place is reminding us that they have a unique way for you to stay cool while still enjoying the deliciousness of ramen.

I have been to this restaurant a few times before, but thanks to their ever evolving menu there are plenty of reasons for me to return time and time again.

Located in a busy out door plaza, it is easy to get to with free parking available. And with plenty of seats and staff at the ready, getting a table is as easy as walking in and pointing to one. The staff are all attentive, rushing to you with the slightest eye contact. Ready to answer questions and take your requests from a very easy to navigate menu. There are plenty of coloured photos to point and order from. A collection of Japanese favourites and a handful done with North American twists. Like their new ramen to go cups that you shake up like you would a salad. These were 100% customizable and include topping choices like kimchi, crispy fried onions, and crushed up hot cheeto dust.

As tempting as that was, my guests were visiting from London and were more keen on a traditional Japanese dining experience so we had a collection of tried and true favourites.

We had the popular street snack “takoyaki”. Octopus dough balls dressed in okonomiyaki sauce, shredded seaweed, and bonito flakes. These were soften globs of dough with a chewy chunk surprise inside. A classic snack that tastes just as you’d expect it to and no different from the last set you tried.

Their gyozas are made in house, pan fried and served sizzling on a hot plate. Crispy dough covering chucks of pork meat, that are great for sharing. They are so good that they have earned themselves a coveted spot on Tourism Richmond’s “Dumpling Trail”. A self guided tour that highlights and recommends where to get the best dumplings in all of Richmond.

The deep fried tofu in house special is another popular Japanese appetizer. Crispy tofu in a light soup-sauce, slightly salty but more on the sweeter side. This made a great option for the vegan of our group. But sadly it was only one of two menu items that met her dietary restrictions. (The other was a teriyaki vegetable hot plate.)

I really liked their mentaiko (pollock roe) udon for its flavour and texture. Pan fried noodles generous coated in a creamy white sauce with plenty of fish eggs. The latter offered up small pops and a unique texture to accompany the slippery, thick strands of noodle. And the various mushrooms and onion embedded offered some chewiness and some freshness to the mix. Overall this left me with a great feeling in my mouth.

We also ordered one of their Japanese hot pots, wanting to experience the traditional set up; which included a pot equipped with a towering spout sticking out from its centre. But sadly the menu misinformed and they didn’t actually have any such pots available. None-the-less the stewed root vegetables, fish cakes, seafood balls, and tofu bobbing in the soy flavoured dashi broth was still delicious. As a whole this dish was warm and comforting, a clear broth that was deceptively tasty. This is something I would love sick and would crave on a rainy day.

We also had some of their deep fried, crispy, boneless chicken as a side to their novelty “beer ramen”. The juicy chicken came to the table hot, coated by a crispy breading.

They made great side and contrast to the cold ramen in bonito broth with white egg foam top. The latter simply added a sweetness to the broth, and finished off the imagery of a foamy beer. You pulled long noodles out from the stein and slurped them up just like that, or were able to top your noodles with accompanying edamame, pickles, green onion, wasabi, and seaweed.

“Yuu” is also known for their fun drinks. Like the “Grapefruit mojito”, sans alcohol. Grapefruit, soda, and fresh mint. Served in coloured layers, you stir everting up for a sparkling beverage.

But one of their most popular is their slushes garnished with a syringe. This is the “calpis melon shot slush”. The melon syrup looks toxic with its neon hue, but is super refreshing with the icy yogurt slush base.

 

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.
I only wish they were closer to my home and easier for me to travel to more regularly. I love their traditional dishes and adore all the fun they have with their food. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

YUU
1111-3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond BC, V6X3Z9
604-214-7722
yuutapas.com

Road trip to Okanagan in the Acura ILX A-spec

This year we decided to celebrate the birth of my partner with a weekend getaway to the Okanagan. Our last visit was far later in the season, when forest fire smoke filled the air and it rained ash. So we thought getting out early in the season would be best, and this weekend was perfect with a forecast of summer-like sun in May.

Our vehicle of choice was the agile Acura ILX A-spec. A plucky sedan that would take us through winding roads and various terrain with comfort and ease. And best of all, it was great on fuel economy, an important point considering the all time high gas prices that Vancouver is seeing: 172.9. At its lowest I saw it at 129.9 in the Okanagan.

We took the long way, 8 hours versus 4 to take in the sights. We drove past Whistler and stopped at several view points along the way. We took in blue skies, tall peaks, and explored the overwhelming feeling of being so small in the grand scheme of things. Especially in Pemberton with snow capped mountains in the distance.

Lillooet with creeping and winding roads that take you closer to the mountains.

And Senton Lake reservoir with turquoise waters and rocks made smooth from wind and wave.

Deadman Junction Ranch was a ghost town in the making. Recreated buildings from out of the wild Wild West.

We had dinner at “Red Collar Brewing Co.”, and sampled a handful of their Kamloops based brews. For the full review of our time spent, visit the link below.
http://vieamaggi.com/red-collar-brewing-co/

We eventually made it to “Tinhorn Creek Vineyards” where we would be spending our nights. I had won a contest and was redeeming my voucher for a two night stay. For the extensive review on our accommodation, visit the link below.
http://vieamaggi.com/tinhorn-creek-vineyards-guest-house/

On our first morning we enjoyed brunch at “Miradoro”, “Tinhorn’s” bistro, a mere 2 minute walk from our suite. They are worth visiting for the view alone, not to mention the ability to taste various wines made on the premise. For the full review of our meal visit the link below.
http://vieamaggi.com/miradoro-restaurant-at-tinhorn-creek/

We also explored the rest of “Tinhorn Creek Vineyard”, including their barrel room. Here, it was wall to wall, and ceiling to floor metal racks and wood oak barrels stacked one on top of another. Diagrams and signs walked tourists through the anatomy of a wine barrel, the name and function of the tools used in the production of their wine, and the steps it took to bring grape to drink. This was part of their self guided winery tour.

Our next day was spent exploring Osoyoos. We drove on the unmarked paths indicated on the Acura ILX’s GPS, searching for view points. Although with the low profile tires we felt everything, from the well travelled roads to all the cracks in between.

One such path took us to the highest point of Osoyoos, where we collected many insects on the front bumper and grill of our Acura, the sign of a well travelled road trip.

We made sure to pause at Osoyoos Lake for a stroll in Canada’s warmest lake.

And nearby enjoyed some child-like fun at “Rattlesnake Canyon”, an amusement park with spinning rides, trampolines, go karts, and a water park.

There, we had a cool treat from their windmill ice cream parlour. 48 flavours to choose from and we went with the chocolate chip cookie dough and the “shark bite”, a grape vanilla base with blue raspberry ice cream and raspberry syrup.

Later in the evening we visited Penticton, the only city between two lakes. There, we watched the sun set behind the mountains, until the light no longer reflected off the calm waters, between the green valley.

At night we marked my partner’s birthday with a dinner at Penticton’s hot spot by the beach: Salty’s. For all the extra large drinks that we had, the international food that we shared, and the cake that helped us celebrate visit the link below.
http://vieamaggi.com/saltys-in-penticton/

On our last day we enjoyed the hospitality of “Urtica” bistro and “Legend Distilling” in Naramata. You wouldn’t think to visit a distillery in wine country, or to enjoy a meal out of a shipping container, but I did and highly recommend both. All the details in the link below.
http://vieamaggi.com/urtica-at-legend-distilling-inc/

The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying the orange sands of Skaha beach. After exploring all the beaches in Okanagan Valley proper, we have concluded that this is the best, and our favourite.

Here, the sand is smooth, the water is on the warmer side. There is plenty of parking, with food stands and ice cream sales, plus clean enough washrooms.vWith very little wind, we tanned quick and got hot fast, but luckily simply standing knee deep in the melted glacial water was enough to cool your entire body down. The more daring beach goers dawned their bathing suits and splashed around.

Having our fill of fun in the sun, we sought dinner in Kelowna. We hit up our traditional spot, the second floor “Earls” by the Marina for some blacked chicken fettuccine and bbq ribs with a potato salad and slaw.

Then off we went, speeding along on the Coquihalla Hwy. We took the less visually interesting, but quickest way back home to Vancouver. Majority of it was spent chasing day light and watching the sky turn black. Here, night driving was made easier thanks to our Acura ILX’s intuitive lights. The high beams turned on and off as needed. The slightest detection of light in the opposite direction had them switching off themselves. A handy feature when majority of the road between city centres are without lights and high beams are in regular use.

And thus ends our weekend in the Okanagan with the Acura ILX A-Spec, a great looking car to drive, be see in, and take photos of. At its conception this is an entry level Acura, and the top of the line Honda Civic. It is user friendly and approachable, but the most pricy of this ILX class; yet still the least expensive model in the Acura family. It drove like a Civic and was reliable, like all the other civics I have had before. A great economic car that got us far and one that I can confidently recommend. Thank you for the fun and stress-free travel Acura!

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards guest house

This year we headed to the Okanagan for my partner’s birthday, and we were lucky to be able to enjoy their off season with a forecast of summer-like sun, in May. We spent three days and two nights at “Tinhorn Creek Vineyards”, in one of their guest suites. I had won a contest from “Jaks Liqueur”, and was redeeming my voucher for a two night stay, for this occasion. We housed in the “Martha” suite, one half of a Duplex. A modern apartment where the foyer led into the kitchen, and then living room, in one open space.

Here, large windows capitalized on the view. A scene of rolling grape fields, sprouting fruit trees, and Osoyoos Lake in the far distance. All of which was only visible during day, and best enjoyed on the patio with its fire pit and barbecue.

For our convenience, the suite included a fully equipped and functioning kitchen. Pots and pans, casserole dishes and serving platters; everything you’d need to prepare a feast with, minus the actual food and the seasonings necessary. Or the fridge to keep any of the chilled.

The mini fridge was ideal for leftovers and keeping drinks cool. Like the complimentary bottle of white in a ice bucket that laid within. Another bottle of red, greeted us with a welcome, on the counter. There was also a water cooler that dispensed ice cold aqua. And a coffee pot with locally produced beans available for brewing.

Sadly the bed was a queen (none of their four suites had anything larger than a queen). When you travel and sleep elsewhere, the dream is always to do so in a larger and firmer bed than what you have at home. None-the-less it was a comfortable sleep with black out blinds that kept the sun’s light and heat out, until you are ready to start your day with it. But the self controlled air conditioning keeps you cool constantly.

The washroom was adjacent to the bed room. The toilet was right at the door, which I locked each time I went. This was in case my partner walked in and swung the door open against my knees. But that was not the worse part, the toilet paper was some of the thinnest I have ever had to wad. Not much different than that stocked in public mall washrooms. And the shower was very low flow, for an unsatisfactory cleaning. In the shower was a push button dispenser of shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Although there wasn’t enough soap to last our 3 day visit. On the last day, I washed myself with body lotion, only to realize that the “luxury bar” on the vanity was a bar of soap. It was set up with face cloths, body lotion, and individual sized mouth wash.

We enjoyed the suite most at night. Coming home to comfortable furniture, air conditioning, and wifi. We stayed up late drinking and streaming videos. But be warned, they do not have a television in the suite, but instead a few books and many board games to keep you busy. They suggest you use the offline time to reconnect.

Overall this was such a great experience. For a wine enthusiast, there is something so magical about being able to stay at a winery in such a beautiful place. To be able to start your day with wine and end it with more. To have a wine shop at your front door and a fantastic restaurant bar your back. This was definitely a one of of a kind stay that I would fully recommend over an air b&b or hotel any day. When in wine country, why not live like wine?

 

TINHORN CREEK
537 Tinhorn Creek Road, Oliver BC, V0H 1T1
250-498-3743
tinhorn.com

Urtica at Legend Distilling Inc.

Today was our last day in the Okanagan, and we were looking for a brunch spot with a view. However, were having a hard time, due to it being Mother’s Day and we didn’t think to make a reservation anywhere. So after an hour of calling and driving around to dead ends, we ended up at “Legend Distilling” in Naramata. They were further away from our stay in Oliver, but had empty seats on their patio, with no wait. My guess is that, a distillery in wine country isn’t as popular, or maybe moms just prefer wine; not to mention this was the off season. None-the-less we were grateful to have found a place, and one that served us a delicious view and meal.

Located on the East side of the Okanagan Lake, you walk through their tasting room/bar to reach their patio. Here, tables are given shade with golf umbrellas, and the scenery included trees and green hills with blue waters and mountains behind it. The restaurant also had a lower balcony with beach chairs and picnic tables available. This served as additional seating for guests looking for just drinks; and later in the season, grass for bocce matches.

The kitchen is a shipping container, just outside of the tasting room. The specials of the day were listed on its side in coloured chalk. This included cocktails with mother’s day puns.

Feeling the brunch time vibe, my partner ordered the “Mum-osa”, expecting a sweet orange juice and sparking mix; but getting sour Bella Gamay Bubbles, Manitou orange, sumac liqueur, and orange juice instead. The tartness helped to cut into the liqueur, and the cherry garnish served as a sweeter end.

Seeing as we were dining at a distillery, I decided to get a tasting of their local products (despite it being 1pm and I was essentially ordering 3 shots for myself). I went with one of their flights and was given the choice of whisky, vodka, gin, and liqueurs, all made in house. It was hard to choose given the 11 unique options, so I went with original flavours and sips that would be good to drink as is. They have an option for half shots for $4 less, but I went for the full glasses at $10, which still felt like a great deal.

This is what I ordered, in the order of suggested drinking. First was their “Harvest moon gin”. Juniper, citrus, indigenous wild sage, and flame torched rosemary. This was recommend as the feature ingredient of a gimlet. There was no missing the herbal flavour here. Decent as is, but I would prefer a shot accompanying Italian food, given the prominence of the rosemary. Or better yet, a contributor to a savoury drink, like a Caesar. Punchy at 40%.

“Sour cherry vodka”, described as cherry pie in a glass. Made with lemonade and soda, so you know it makes a great martini base. Or even served over ice cream or with dark chocolate. Basically a boozy substitute for the cherry fruit. Great straight up, as the cherry flavour is light, and similar to what you would find in a cherry syrup or part of a Black Forest cake. This is a sipping liqueur at 25%.

“Blasted brew”. A cold brew liqueur made from freshly ground coffee, produced at “Homestead Roastery” in Naramata. Bold and smooth coffee, with hints of cocoa and vanilla. This too was recommended over ice cream or with coffee for double the caffeinated punch. This was strongest of the three in flavour, and recommended last given its over powering nature. Another great sipper at 24%.

To eat, my partner had the “Buttermilk roasted chicken” on a ciabatta bun with bacon, greens, tomato; and out of preference, the caramelized onion mayo on the side. The sandwich had a clean flavour. Like a club, but dressed up with the tasty mayo and pickled onion for freshness and tang. He had a choice of farm greens, soup, or chips and salsa. He chose the latter believing it would be steamed and seasoned vegetables, so was disappointed by the salad that appeared.

I had the Mother’s Day special, a “Nettle gnocchi” with mushroom, onion, spinach, poached eggs, and apple chips; all in a tarragon mornay sauce. It was a good looking dish with bold greens and two perfectly prepared eggs in a skillet. So delicious that you wouldn’t believe it came out of a shipping container. This was the perfect portion size, that left you wanting more. The gnocchi was so soft and chewy that it melted with a herbaceous flavour. I liked the look the greens gave, but am not a fan of wilted vegetables. The apple chips were savoury with a burnt note, that stuck to your teeth. And the bread on the side offered up some crunch, and the ability to help change the way you enjoyed this.

Our server was very welcoming and well informed. She recited the specials in detail, was willing to make recommendations, and asked for our feed back. She even suggested add ons, like making reservations to attend their concert series next week.

 

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? – Yes.
Given the welcoming staff and the amazing food, more than just pizza, like at the other winery bistros; I highly recommend “Urtica” for something different. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

URTICA
3005 Naramata Road, Naramata BC, V0H 1N0
778-514-1010
legenddistilling.com

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