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Pendulum Magazine x Origo Club, free cocktail hour

I was invited down to “Q-Lab” (a vape store by Stadium Skytrain station), to check out a new cocktail-tasting experience coming to downtown Vancouver; brought to you by “Pendulum Magazine​“. “Pendulum” is a Vancouver-based online publication, available in both in English and Chinese. It features travel, business, art, design, architecture, photography and culinary arts; internationally. And starting the month of October, they are teaming up with local restaurants and bartenders that aren’t necessarily accessible in downtown Vancouver. Together, they are bringing you a taste of what they are about, right to your doorstep. A concept that began from the feeling that there is not enough being done to highlight Vancouver’s amazing cocktail programs and mixologists. So this is “Pendulum” shining a light on them, with their platform.

I was here for their inaugural test run, two weeks before. A chance to test out the logistics and gather feedback for the official cocktail hour on October 26th, 2019. This is a free event, but in order to attend you need to register your attendance on “EventBrite”. I will provide the link below for those interested. It is a drop-in where guests enjoy a unique cocktail and small bite for their troubles.

October’s feature restaurant was “Origo Club”, focused on fine French food and drink in Richmond, with their flagship location in Beijing. What makes them unique is their desire to combine Chinese art with their food. Diners can expect authentic French cuisine, and enjoy it with the visuals of a rotating art collection. Their Richmond location boasts an exclusive list of French wines, Barons de Rothschild champagne, classic cocktails, and imported saké and whiskies from around the world.

For this collaboration they are featuring a unique Old Fashion. In true Old Fashion fashion, this one contains sugar, bitters, and whiskey. It is normally $20 a glass, but costs 5 times that to prepare. And is completely free to try in the days to come. Created by, Winson Ho, “Origo’s” Bar Manager. It is made with “the rare ​Château d’Arlay Côtes du Jura Vin Jaune​ (from France) and ​Aged 15-Year Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey”. This cleverly named, “Peculiar Fashion” adds a twist with its highlight of the rare French yellow wine, which is not readily available in Vancouver. A bottle will cost you $150-200, given its specialty production. The wine is not sealed in a barrel, but instead aged with air, giving it sherry notes as an aperitif. And a bottle of the 15 year old whiskey usually runs for $129. This promises to be a strong drink so they are suggesting that you don’t drive, if you plan on indulging. It is familiar as an Old Fashion with dry and mellow notes, while being warming and fresh.

With it, “Origo” is showcasing classic French canapés. A smoked salmon croissant with creme fraiche, and a side of water melon radish and three types of pickles. A beautifully composed small bite, but one that doesn’t necessarily match the cocktail above. Best enjoyed alone or with some tea, especially considering the small bite to follow.

And to finish off your snack, grab one of their housemade matcha macarons finished off with a logo stamped chocolate disk.

A great idea, and worth checking out if you will be in the area that day, especially if you like liquor. To see what they are about, register for your ticket with the link below. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/pendulum-magazine-x-origo-club-cocktail-hour-at-89-smithe-tickets-76346513477

The Tours for the Recently Deceased, Beaumont Studios

I am excited to write about this one! This is a one of a kind interactive display, musical, cabernet, comedy show, haunted house, and dance hall; all in one. A performance like no other that celebrates the arts and Halloween across 13 spooky nights: October 18th to 27th from 7-10pm (11pm on weekends).

This is “The Tours for the Recently Deceased”, brought to the you by “Beaumont Studios” in partnership with “Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret”. This is the studio’s largest “most outrageous theatrical initiative to date”. My coverage is based on my media night attendance, where we were able to take photos and videos to help share this experience. Something that I am more than happy to do. I have honestly been raving about the following since its launch night.

I have never been to “Beaumont Studios” before, so this was just as much an opportunity to explore this shared space (I didn’t know this was even a thing), as it was to see the actors within them. The building is set up like “WeWork”, but for artists. “An open and supportive environment to cater to a wide variety of emerging artists and creative professionals”. Several studios/rooms under one roof: hair salon, mechanical garage, musical studio, art gallery, and fashion house; to name a few.

All together, a great location for the 13 nights of guided Halloween Tours. Which includes 8 audience participation performances, and the spooky Tim Burton inspired characters they are hosted by. You were not only able to engage with the actors and take part in the scenes, but can explore the elaborately deviated setting they were in as well.

Your journey begins as you check-in at the front counter. There, you are greeted by your “afterlife” caseworker, June. With cheek and humour she explains that you are dead, but can still escape the afterlife yet. You receive “your handbook”, which are a series of riddles to solve. One by one you visit each character listed and from them and their performance, you extract a clue. A number that correlates to a letter in the alphabet. And together they spell out a word, a password to get you into purgatory, and past that: the land of the living (aka the exit).

You are able to explore the rooms at your leisure and pace, in whatever order you please; even doubling back the way you came, so should you need to. I liked the freedom of exploration, and the choose your own type adventure that puts you in the shoes of the protagonist. Although letting a group of people loose in a limited space can become chaotic quick.

There were points where we didn’t know where to go. We found ourselves bumping into others, joining scenes mid way, interrupting performances/actors, and missing out on key narratives. But worst of all, we had puzzles solved by those before us. And for a completion-ist like myself, and those who are heavily invested in the experience, this takes away from its entirety. Not to mention we were scolded several times by the in-character actors, telling us that we weren’t suppose to be here. For a couple I couldn’t tell if they were acting out acting out. And that shift the mood. With no instructions and no guides, who are we the guests to know where we are suppose to be and when? Therefore, what I am proposing is set groups that roam the space together. Being ushered by a “tour guide” from scene to scene. You pause, solve any mystery as a group (escape room style), and enjoy the fullness of the show. After all, tickets are already booked in 20 minute intervals to facilitate this.

The following recap is in the order in which we experienced it. I will not be divulging too much detail as to what we saw. I don’t want to give away any of the suspense and surprise. Just enough to entice you to visit yourself. And at $30 per ticket ($25 for members) you well get your money’s worth. All the following to see and be a part of, and strategically placed snacks to munch on, along the way.

Please excuse the quality of my photos. I avoided using flash as to not distract the performers even more. It was also hard to focus on the moving actors.

A witch and the Headless Horseman gave you the scare of your life.

In the hair salon, Edward Scissorhands give you one heck of a hair cut.

We walked in on the Mad Hatter having his tea party. Alice and the white rabbit joined us around the table with cookies and mini cupcakes to enjoy.

There was also chips and salsa in the kitchen.

Outback, a mirrored maze stood between you and the Red Queen. She invites you to a croquet match, but on her terms. She supplies the balls and the flamingos.

I enjoyed the comedic stylings of the Penguin, and marvelled at the beauty of Cat Woman and her flexibility.

The Corpse Bride was an amazing singer. She sang of loved lost and curses broken.

Meat Pie was on the menu in Sweeney Todd’s barber shop. A saucy baker gave us a memorable cooking lesson. She also let us in on the secret ingredient in her famous pies.

While Sweeney himself offered guests free shaves. All in a studio of an artist that makes knives, how fitting.

Also roaming around were a host of characters that could help and guide you on your journey in the afterlife. Like Jack Skellington and Sally from “A Nightmare Before Christmas”.

Along the way, each connecting hallway or corridor was just as elaborately decorated. Be it a mystical wonderland or a spooky scene. Plenty of photo ops and backdrops to take advantage of.

And if you make it through this choose your own adventure theatre experience, you meet the ghost with the most himself: Beetlejuice. Purgatory’s most entertaining and most mischievous DJ.

With a cash bar and an open dance floor, visitors are invited to get down and boogie with all that go bump in the night. Admission includes a complimentary drink ticket to get you started. Exchange it or cash for soda, water, beer, wine, or highballs.

In conclusion, for those who like the macabre and art that is off the beaten path, this is for you. Hands down my favourite Halloween experience for this season and year, and one that I highly recommend. A great first of its kind event, that already has me looking forward to next year’s assembly. Get your tickets now with the link below!!

BEAUMONT STUDIOS
316 W 5th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1J0
(604) 733-3783
https://www.thebeaumontstudios.com/
#beaumonthaunt

VanDusen Glow in the Garden

One week to Halloween, and VanDusen Garden’s fall light show is back for another year. But as my first time, this was all new to me. From October 17th to the 27th the garden is open daily at 5pm to 9pm. Visitors can take in the displays with the last bit of day light, break for dinner at one of the available food trucks; and then go back to enjoying the sights, with the dark of the night making the lights glow even brighter.

Where last year the theme was Hansel & Gretel, this year we have woodland magic. As taken from their press release, “The old barred owl has played a Halloween trick by casting a “hootenanny” spell and making it glow. Take a journey through the garden and help Anna the hummingbird and her friends lift the spell by collecting Halloween treats along the way.”

Also new for this year is the expansion of the arena, new on-site food vendors; and a new timed ticket system, that ensures you are fighting the crowds for your perfect shot. Your ticket choices are between 5-6pm, 6:30-7:30pm, or 8-9pm. Tickets are priced at $9.50-13.50, with kids 2 and under free.

As an all ages event, there are crafts for the kids and a scavenger hunt that has them collecting stamps, in exchange for prizes and treats.

The following are a few of the features you can expect, to help plan your adventure and ensure that you don’t miss anything. We arrived early enough to capture some photos with the last bit of day light, then more when the sun set.

“Hootenanny” is the above described magical trickster owl. With colour changing eyes, she perches at the entrance eliciting a scare with the giant letters “b-o-o-!”

The “Scarecrow” sits at the centre of the lake, guarding the lantern lit walkway.

The “Acranophobia” section plays on the age old fear of spiders. But these are less threatening with tinsel limbs and large glowing eyes.

“Harvest Fest” was hosted by a “squirrel”, she solicits your help in lifting the aforementioned spell. You can find her amongst the hay barrels, corn husks, and pumpkins.

I foresee the giant pumpkin being a popular backdrop.

But preferred the highly detailed carved pumpkins, and the ones in the pumpkin patch.

The latter was a collection of jack-o-lanterns, lit from within. Gathering at a stopping point, in a clearing.

The “Enchanted Forest” came with forest sounds and mystical melodies, adding depth to a lit pathway. You walk along and take note of the mushrooms and caterpillars made out of pumpkins, and the projectors adding blinking eyes and the bat signal to the scene.

“Anna the hummingbird” is a large display in green and pink lights. The character also comes personified, greeting the littlest of guests with purple hair, a large tulle dress, and a masquerade mask.

There were also natural features of the park that they decorated with lights, like the berry tone lit cave and the garden dome.

In conclusion, this is a unique outdoor event that gives guests another reason to visit the garden, and a new way to take in the space. Ideal for families and kids who get into the spirit by dawning their own costumes. For how to get tickets and more on the event, visit the link below.

GLOW
5251 Oak St, Vancouver, BC V6M 4H1
https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/glow-in-the-garden.aspx

Harvest Land & Harvest Haus

After missing last year, “Harvest Haus” is back in a big way, and at a larger venue. From October 10-20th celebrate Oktoberfest with “The Social Concierge” and “Playland”. This year they have made the occasion a family affair, with two features: “Harvest Land” and “Harvest Haus”. The latter is a drink hall for adults; the former a German themed farm festival, with numerous attractions for young and old. I visited opening night and partook in both for the review below.

“Harvest Land” is open at 4pm. Kid friendly, there is plenty to keep them occupied. With a map and well labelled areas, it is fun to explore the expanse of the outdoor fair ground. But be warned, majority of the attractions do require a fee to play.

“Woodland Den” has axe throwing. You pay for throws and get a crash course before you start. A flick of the wrist to make the axe spin and stick, it is harder than it looks. Here, you can also try your hand at log sawing, or simply watch it being done below.

I enjoyed the comedy of the lumberjacks performing in the “logger area”. A show in the use of a chainsaw and the two man hand saw. Two professional teams competed and hilariousness ensued.

I was most excited about the “woodland labyrinth”, so was disappointed by it the most. What looked like hedges to weave through on the map, was actually a series of fencing arranged like a maze. A few panels were decorated, many more left plain. You simply walked along the path, ending up where you started from. Near the exit was a feature that felt undone. As a whole, this exhibit felt rushed. I wish the show runners created pausing points and photo ops within the labyrinth. Or had projectors strobing light and casting patterns for more visual interest. Day or night it is the same with varying amounts of light.

The “Kinder Farm” zone cleverly used exhibits and props from PNE’s agrodome. Tractors, plastic farm animals, and the petting zoo. Lambs, goats, rabbits, chicks, and a donkey made an appearance here.

There were also pony rides from some of the most fashionable horses around. With their manes dyed and their harnesses bedazzled they were like pageant contestants.

 

There was even a pumpkin patch to take photos in. Not the ones on farms where you can pick your own from the patch. But many individual pumpkins assembled on the grass to simulate the experience, without any of the mud associated.

I especially liked the giant pumpkins in planters, still on stem. And the shelf stocked with pumpkins and gourds of various sizes and colours.

Here, you could also purchase pumpkin and cabbages for throwing and slicing. Baby porcelain pumpkins were armed into sling shot holsters; you fired them in a contained hay and grass field. For kids under 12 it was free, parents paid. And no, you don’t get to keep the pumpkin afterwards.

As for the cabbage, at $5 a head, you took each to the “Bavarian Village”, where you could live out your fruit ninja dreams. Wielding a real metal sword, you could stab, slice, or chop your cabbage head down to size. But you aren’t able to keep the salad afterwards.

If you don’t feel comfortable swinging a sword, you can watch the professionals handle theirs with sword play demonstrations, or get more comfortable with one through “knight camp training” in the “Marketplatz”.

And if swords aren’t your weapon of choice, there is also archery lessons and the opportunity to pull an arrow at a target.

Looking for more fun and games, then take part in classic fair games for prizes. Like ring toss and gone fishing.

All the above is located outdoors, so if and when it rains you can retreat into the “Marketplatz” to keep dry. Here you can ride on a merry-go-round or mini coaster. Or run around in their fun house. There are also vendors selling handmade wares to shop.

And for those needing an outfit for “Harvest Haus”, traditional lederhosen and dirndls are available for sale, as well as felt hats and steins. All of which are highly recommended when partying it up in the beer hall, which opens to ticket holders (separate from Harvest Land) at 6pm.

All “Harvest Haus” guests are required to rent and drink out of one of their branded steins for $3, plus a $5 deposit you get back when the stein is returned. If you spring for the VIP ticket, your admission includes the cost of the stein rental, and access to the raised Bavarian-themed long table VIP seating area, with its own VIP bar. This area guarantees you a seat in front of the band and the live performers.

Acrobats, jugglers, fire twirlers, and unicycle performers roamed the beer hall and fair grounds engaging in guests and posing for photos.

For those who are planning to stay for the evening’s festivities, I suggest eating before. Fuel up when exploring “Harvest Land”, as only salted and sweet pretzels are available within “Harvest Haus”. Majority of the food trucks and food stands are open and operating outdoors. You can bring said food in to “Harvest Haus”, but will need to check your stein in when leaving, and line up to get back in. And that is a missed opportunity, had their been food available indoors we probably would have spent more and stayed longer.

Food vendors included PNE staples like the grilled cheese stand, the one that specializes in chicken and waffles, and flavoured mini doughnuts. For the Oktoberfest theme there were plenty of German meat options available like pork hocs, bratwurst and sauerkraut, porchetta sandwiches, and pulled pork buns for various food trucks.

As for “Harvest Haus” itself, the event gives you the ability to drink and engage with other German and European beer-loving folk. All while partaking in drinking chants, and regale in the music of an oompah band: the official Harvest Haus sound of the Halle; as well as DJ Meike Zeddam, der mann über die stadt. The event runs every night until the 20th, with special seatings on certain days. So for more on that and to learn how to get your tickets for the largest fall themed celebration and Oktoberfest party, visit the link below.

Opening Night: Thur, Oct 10, 4pm – 10pm
Friday Night: Fri, Oct 11, 4pm – 10pm
Thanksgiving Weekend: Sat, Oct 12— Mon, Oct 14, 12pm – 10pm
Weeknights: Wed, Oct 16 — Fri, Oct 18, 4pm – 10pm
Closing Weekend: Sat, Oct 19 — Sun, Oct 20, 12pm – 10pm

HARVEST HAUS
Hastings Park – Home of the PNE Fair
2901 E Hastings St
Vancouver, BC V5K 5J1

Potter’s House of Horrors

I love Halloween, I love the decorations, the dressing up, and all the candy. Though admittedly I am a scaredy cat, so up to now have avoided majority of the haunted house attractions that also pop up this time of year. But in this post, I would pull up my big girl pants and brave the two haunted houses at one of Vancouver’s well known haunts: “Potters House of Horrors”.

Running until October 31st, you have 3 weeks to visit for yourself. They are open daily from 7-10pm and 7:30-10:30pm on the 18th, 19th, and 25th to the 27th. Located in Surrey, it is a bit of a trek, but with two fully loaded haunted houses and plenty of attractions to entertain, the drive is well worth it. Tickets are $15.99 for adults and $12.99 for children. And a ticket is required for each house. So visiting two houses equals $31.98. I strongly suggest paying the $14 extra for the (adult) speed pass, in order to skip the line. It does get pretty lengthy and with the necessary time in between groups entering, this wait does get extended. Not to mention, it is doubled if you want to visit both haunted houses, with a need to wait in the same line twice. But with both of our speed passes we blew by everyone and shot to the front.

Although if you have the time and a solid group to wait with, the time does pass with costumed actors engaging the crowd and posing for photo ops. In fact, the clerk and the front of the line pointed out the owner of “Potter’s” dressed like a goul with rubber mask and a well tailored bones and pumpkin patterned suit. He climbed on the wooden barriers, turned him self upside, and tried to catch visitors by surprise.

The whole complex is themed like an abandoned town with bakery, movie theatre, and butcher shop. Each building with its own condemned facade, slewn with corpses and creepy crawly things. My photos are only of the exterior, as you aren’t allowed to take photos in either of the haunted houses. One, as to not ruin the surprise for others, two you wouldn’t want to stay in any one room for too long anyways. The actors are able to travel between rooms and follow you from one to another. They also have cameras that are monitored by security to ensure that this rule is being upheld.

I won’t be going into much detail of the sights and sounds of each house, you’ll have to come down and experience it for yourself. All I can say is it isn’t for the faint of heart, and if it wasn’t for my brave companion, who I grabbed on to tightly, I would have used one of the many emergency exits to escape the horror long before the exit. These were two of the longest haunted houses I have ever been in. A 15 minute trek for most, and what felt like much too long for a scaredy cat like me.

New for 2019 is “Death Valley Motor Inn”, another haunted building to fit into their haunted town. Themed like a lonely desert hotel, you explore each room uncovering all the “Psychotic killers, deranged murderers, and midnight stranglers that wander the hallways looking for their next victim.” With animatronics and compressed air shooting your direction, you don’t know if what is behind you an actor or a moving machine. Although it is clear when the fully costumed and fully committed actors begin following you around and screaming for you to “get out!” Thank goodness they can’t touch you, so you don’t have that added fear to worry about.

The second house is the “Devil’s Descent”. I suggest visiting this house first if you are planning to do both. We traversed it second, and found it less scary with less actors than that of the gory inn. So to ramp up your night enjoy an exploration into deep underground caves and forlorn woods first. This was definitely more of a visual treat. The elaborate caverns and spooky swamp had me wishing for more time to immerse myself in the scene. To be able to poke and prod, and really inspect the craftsmanship that went into this.

In between each house, we were able to take a break in their attraction area. Neon colours and strobing lights. Here, you can pose with numerous curated photo ops. Disco-loving zombies and pumpkins, and well dressed skeletons on a fancy night out.

But my favourite backdrops were the the ones bathed in black light, making everything white or remotely neon glow under its light. These satanic symbols look less scary in electric pink and lime green.

Here, there are games to test your strength and stamina at reasonable prices. $5-10. An arcade punching bag with tracker, the ability to ride in a moving coffin with audio, a spooky dress up photo booth, scary escape room, and glow in the dark paint ball.

We spent $10 on the latter, sharing 100 rounds between two. With paintball masks we headed into the enclosed range. 100 paint balls to shoot in a random black lit room, already well saturated in paint. With moving targets and dangling objects there was plenty to aim with your crosshairs at. Rock music plays overhead and counts your time down.

And what attraction is complete without a gift shop? This one is equipped with spooky apparel and costume accessories for sale. There is even a concession stand on site, should you feel a little peckish.

With so much to see and do, this is one worth crossing off your Halloween check list. Set the tone for a spooky October with “BC’s #1 Scariest Haunted House” (as claimed on their website).

POTTER’S HOUSE OF HORRORS
12530 72 Ave, Surrey, BC V3W 2M6
(604) 572-7706
https://www.pottershouseofhorrors.com/

Twilight Drive-In with the Honda CRV

I have never been to a drive-in movie theatre before, so what better a time than during the last bit of dry season, to check out the “Twilight Drive-In” in Aldergrove. Although, regardless of weather, all movies scheduled for the day will still play: rain, shine, sleet, or snow.

Our vehicle of choice: to get us there and to sit and enjoy the movie in was the “2019 Honda CRV”. With its best in class fuel economy, even though the drive was far, our wallets didn’t suffer too much. Which meant more money spent on movie-viewing snacks.

Your choice in movies are posted online, a few days before the start of the week. Originally we were planning on visiting during a Tuesday, when general admission is only $10, and you save $3.50 per person. But for fall, they are only open from Friday to Sunday. And this week it was a marathon of clowns. Either the new “Joker” movie at 7:30pm or “IT 2” at 9:40pm. But you needn’t choose, because admission allows you to watch both movies. It is worth noting that they only accept cash or debit at the box office, and cash at the concession. Although there is an ATM on location, so should you need it.

The box office opens 45minutes before the start of the movie. Ushers with reflective jackets and flashlights help guide your way. Each vehicle is given a plastic garbage bag, and encouraged to use it instead of littering. It is first come first serve, and you park where ever you want. We drove to the very front as to not have the view of any other cars in our foreground. Individual spaces are marked with a white pole, well aligned to ensure that each vehicle has plenty of room between one another. The overall ground is flat, but each “stall” has a little mound of dirt that you can use to perch your vehicle atop of.

Many of the SUVs present, reversed into their stall. With an opened tailgate, passengers bundled up to watch the movie, cozy with pillows and blankets surrounding them. Had we known this before arriving, we would have dressed warmer and done the same. After all our “Honda CRV” came with plenty of cargo room, and two-level flat luggage compartment. A “full flat mode” and a “capacity max mode”, both designed to fit your storage needs, or in this case two grown adults.

For audio you need to tune into a specific FM station, within your car. Meaning you can set the volume to how loud you like it. I enjoyed being able to talk over the movie, to engage with my guest, snack loudly on our food, rustle with careless abandon when I wanted some candy, and turn on the light if we dropped anything. And not encouraged, but possible, is playing with your phone during the movie as well.

To access the audio it is recommended that you turn your key to the “Accessory” position, to consume as little power as possible. You also leave your headlights and brake lights off during the movie (as to not distract from other’s experience). Cars with daytime running lights usually can be turned off by applying the emergency brake.

For food, you get out of the car to purchase what ever you like from their indoor concession stand. This is also where the washrooms are. There are only 2 tills, and the clerk that takes your order is also the one that assembles it. Everything minus the burgers and fried food, which comes from the kitchen. So be warned and come early, as there is a wait to get in, let alone order. I didn’t mind the extra time, to look over the lengthy menu. I was delighted that they offer a lot more than most normal movie theatres do. Fountain drinks in plenty of flavours, bottled drinks, energy drinks, ice coffees, and hot beverages. If you are looking for something more substantial they have plenty of sweet snacks to munch on: a variety of chocolates, gummies, and candies; ice cream bars, and even sno cones. For savoury there was the classic buttered popcorn, corn dogs, burgers, hot dogs, fries, poutine, onion rings; and nachos.

We feasted in the comfort of our Honda CRV cabin. Where we were able to sprawl everything across the central console. Convenient, as we stayed in the front seat for the duration movie, lowering our perforated leather seats back for the perfect recline. The only hiccup, not being able to run our vehicle fully meant no heated seats or rain sensing wipers. So with the gentle rain coming down, there was the need to turn on the car in order to clear the wind shield of moisture now and again. Had we watched from the tailgate, the above wouldn’t have been an issue.

As for the aforementioned food, the following is all that we shared and it was all better than we expected. The “Nachos supreme” came with some assembly required. A sealed bag of corn chips that you pour out into a cardboard box and top with sliced jalapeño. All to enjoy with a dip into hot nacho cheese and/or a scoop of juicy tomato salsa.

The large order of popcorn came with multiple pumps of butter. A couple mid way through, and more, once filled. The ideal snack for any movie goer.

The onion rings had a good crispiness to them, but I wanted more crunchy batter and less gummy onion.

I liked the use of actual cheese curds in the poutine, but not so much the gravy. It was flat and I could have used some more pepperiness to it.

The chicken bites came with your choice of sauce. We went for the honey garlic, which was two sauces combined in one dish. They did what I wanted, adding some salty and sweet to these breaded nuggets of white meat.

The hot dog was exactly as expected. A regular wiener in a plain bun, which you dress as you like at the condiment bar.

I was surprised by how much I liked the “Double burger”, I added cheese to this stack of burger patties, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and pickles. It just needed more ketchup for my taste.

And for dessert, our favourite candy to leave our meal on a sweet note. I thought about ice cream or a sno cone, but didn’t want to visit the concession stand mid movie or in the little time you have between movies.

Between the double feature there is an intermission, a video plays inviting your to visit the concession stand. It is basically food coming to life in games and dance. Gum and liquorice jumping rope, a popsicle leading cups of ice cream in a march, and a bag of popcorn juggling its fillings. And when the hot dog wiener takes the stage and eventually lands in the bun, everyone honks their car horn. The honk serves no other purpose, besides you acknowledging that you have been to the drive-in before and know of this ritual.

As for the movie, I don’t review cinema; although as a longtime Batman comics fan, I can say that this Joker’s origin story holds up and satisfies. And as for “IT 2” I am a notorious scaredy cat, so couldn’t stomach most of it without closing my eyes tight and plugging my ears with my finger tips.

Overall, I highly recommend this experience. This was a great way to enjoy a newly released movie, in the comfort of a car, with surprisingly tasty food to boot. And done even better if your vehicle of choice is the 2019 Honda CRV.

HONDA
#HondaCRV
https://www.honda.ca/

TWILIGHT DRIVE-IN
3350 260 St, Aldergrove, BC V4W 2B1
(604) 856-5063
twilightdrivein.net

Passions 2019, Vancouver’s best small food & wine gala

This past week marked the 16th annual “Passions” fundraiser. A night where local chefs and philanthropists come together to raise much needed funds for the Dr. Peter Aids Foundation. Through such efforts they are able to supply nutritious and much needed food for those in our community suffering from HIV/AIDS, mental illness, housing insecurity, and various substance use disorders. Each year they prepare approximately 96,000 meals for approximately 500 people. Everyone enrolled in the program has access to quality food twice a day. Enough to ensure that they meet their daily nutrient requirements, which is critical in helping with all or any “hefty medication regime”. The result, a program that boasts the best food for any social service program, anywhere. Through all their sponsors and all the donations, 100% of the funds raised went directly to the the foundation, which was a record-breaking $220,000 plus!

The night featured many of Vancouver’s best chefs and mixologists, living up to its reputation as “Vancouver’s best small food & wine gala”. The following is a recap of the night, as I ate and drank my way though all the offerings, and contributed to the good cause myself.

Held at “Performance Works” on Granville Island, the space was expanded and set up to host over 20 restaurants as individual tables, with stations to cook and assemble their small bites. As VIPs we were given earlier access to the event. An hour more to take in the food without crowds, and an hour more to drink; starting with a welcome glass of sparkling.

For the recap of the night through video, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

The following are the chefs and the restaurants they represent, as I ate through it all. To be honest with all the mingling and sampling, I didn’t get a chance to fully taste, critique, and take notes; so will only offer descriptions of what I can recall and that which stood out. But over all, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like, it was all dynamic, creative, and easy to eat as finger food.

Chef Richard Valverde was here representing “Ancora”. He brought with him an interactive “Manila clam ceviche shooter”. Made with aji amarillo leche de Tigre, and crispy quinoa. You stir it up, lick the rim, and take the fulsome contents down the throat in one go. Served cold, it was spiced well with citrus zest, and chewy with seafood.

Chef Hidekazu Tojo himself was on site, and as charming as ever. He remixed sushi with a duo of “smoked sablefish temari” and “geoduck gunkan”. No seaweed, but thinly sliced squash and cucumber used as a wrap with sushi rice instead. He called it “healthy”.

Chef Andrew Richardson from “Cin Cin” served up a vegetarian option in their “golden and chioggia beet salad” with whipped ricotta, smoked orange vinaigrette and pistachios. Fresh beets, salty cheese, crunchy nuts, and a light citrus dressing to bring it all together.

Chef Eva Chin from “Blvd” had “melon gazpacho” with lemon verbena, and variations of melon and fennel; served in little plastic cups with little plastic spoons. A cool, thinner soup, with a refreshing finish.

From “Copper Chimney” Chef Valentino Pereira had “quinoa chaat bites” with an avocado tamarind mousse. A crispy fried shell hiding a creamed centre, with additional crunch from the bed of puffed rice.

Chef Lee Cooper from “L’Abattoir” had a lovely “smoked duck breast” with beetroot and preserved blueberries. It was well balanced with fatty salty meat and sweet fruit.

“West’s” Bobby Milheron had a “geoduck tostada” topped with pickled Fresno chilli, green romesco, and cilantro. A crispy lime-forward snack to crunch on.

Chef Subir Ghosh from “Arc” had “pork rilletes” with fermentation vegetables and black mustard. A crusty crostini spread over generously with a chunk meat paste for a sour, tangy, and peppery two bites.

Chef Welbert Choi of “Forage” was serving up perfectly rounded “bison short rib arancini” balls in a chanterelle mushroom cream with rutabaga. A crispy fried battered ball of tender meat, fully flavoured with the distinct flavour of the chanterelle. Delicious.

Soon to open North Vancouver Restaurant, “Cantina Norte” was making their “Passions” debut with a fresh seafood ceviche from their chef, Jeremy Mitchell. Fresh shrimp, scallops, and white fish in citrus and aromatic herbs. Served on a flour tortilla chip with a spicy avocado mousse. This was my favourite ceviche interpretation of the night. The harder base made the seafood lighter and chewier for a nice contrast, and the spicy avocado mousse finished it off wonderfully.

“The Observatory” at Grouse Mountain had Chef Jack Chen on site offering up a “Chicken terrine” with cured egg yolk and a buttermilk sauce. A little dry, but very tasty with the yolk and peppery sauce.

A “Passions” regular Jean-Francis Quaglia was here representing his restaurant, “Provence”, with a “duck confit ballottine” and pickled BC cherries. The salty duck and sweet cherry were a great contrasting coupling, I just wanted something doughy to go with it.

I really liked the meaty canapé from “Notch8’s” Chef Dennis Peckham”. A “dry aged tataki” dressed with black pepper ponzu, spiced peanut, furikake, and shisho. Meat, bread, cream, and greens gathered together for a balanced bite.

“Market by Jean-Georges” has Chef Ken Nakano on location with “soy braised wagyu beef cheeks. Served on an airy fried prawn cracker, with a sweet and only slightly spicy Asian pear kimchi. Another meaty canapé I enjoyed, especially the prawn cracker that takes me back to my childhood.

Chef Marty Ra of “Pacific Yacht Charters” offered a hearty “Cambodian lemon chicken terrine” with a coconut lime foam, puffed rice, and cilantro. A little on the dense side, but tropical in flavour and fun in textural combinations.

“Honey Salt’s” Chef Jason Harper had a playful presentation for his “duck yolk gel”. It is best a mini cone to bite into, rather than lick from. Topped with orange segment, chive shallot, and a foie gras mousse it was salty and meaty, and the cone offered a neutral base.

“Joe Fortes’” Wayne Sych had a simple yet elegant plate of “smoked sablefish” served with a sweet potato hummus as a sauce, and pita crisps as a base. Wonderfully crafted, with great flavours and textures that went well together.

Chef Chris Andraza from “Fanny Bay Oysters” prepared a “smoked scallop ceviche” seasoned with chilli and citrus, served with a chunk salsa and pita chip strips for crunch.

“Minami” had Chef Alan Ferrer toasting up “aburi salmon oshi sushi” on the spot. Pressed wild sockeye salmon, jalapeño, and their trademark mayo-based Miku sauce. A menu staple and one I came back for, for seconds. Each piece also came with “Albacore tuna and kaiso seaweed tartare”. Beautifully prepared, but a little bland by comparison. Even with the spicy ponzu vinaigrette, wasabi creme fraiche, and a sesame wonton crisp.

Pastry Chef Betty Hung from “Beaucoup Bakery” had the only dessert of the evening: a “Plum and mascarpone verrinne” with a spiced plum compote, mascarpone mousse, and a hazelnut sable. It was a lighter offering, not too sweet or too dense. A great palette refresher and a nice end to all the food before it. Tasty with refreshing fruit and a salty cream to lap up with syrupy compote. It was best with the cookie garnish, I would have liked more of that crumbled up as a base.

As for drinks Katie Ingram of “Elisa” was here mixing her custom cocktail, “Boy in Berlin” featuring Ungava gin, white port, lemon, Riesling cordial, ginger beer, Bitter Sling orange and juniper bitters. It was pretty over ice, with a dried lime wheel and a rose bud.

“Bearface whiskey” was representing with the “Chicha Mule” featuring their whiskey with ginger beer and lime. A simply delicious mule.

The “1181 Cosmo” was named after the bar on Davie with of the same name. Vodka, Cointreau, cranberry, and lime; a strong drink with plenty of kick.

As we mixed and mingled, ate and drank, we heard from the fundraiser’s chair, and Dr. Peter’s mother. We heard the good our contributions did, and were encouraged to help further with additional donations and bids during the live auction.

Shirtless men sold raffle tickets to prize winning draws. The silent auctions were easy to bid on with iPads at every table, and an app to track whether you still held your bid.

But the main event was the live auction, offering up chases to win grand prizes and experiences like a sushi rolling class with Tojo, an island getaway, a giant bucket of pickles, and a multi course dinner prepared by and served by a team of handsome firefighters. All of the prizes above were donated in full, so for all the money they raised, 100% went to the “Dr. Peters” aids Foundation. I was happy to do my part, winning my silent auction bid: a night out to the ballet with an executive hotel stay.

In conclusion “Passions” is everything it promised to be, and more. A great night, serving a wonderful cause, rubbing shoulders with talented chefs and the city’s finest philanthropist. For more details, and how you can contribute to “Dr. Peters’s” cause, visit the link below.

PASSIONS 2019
1110 Comox Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1K5 604-608-1874
www.drpeter.org
Facebook: DrPeterAIDSFoundation
Twitter: @drpeterAIDSfdn
Instagram: @drpetercentre
#Passions19

Interior Design Show 2019

2019 marks the 15th year of the Interior Design Show (IDS) in Vancouver. A trade show known for “Igniting innovation & celebrating design tradition”. It hosts and welcomes “individual designers, artists, makers and design-centric brands who have come together to showcase their current works, concepts and products”.

As my first visit and first time, I simply thought this was a trade show with vendors hawking carpet by the foot, light installations, and/or wallpaper. But this show is so much more than just a live-action catalogue, more than a space where you can shop for your next renovation or home project. There is plenty to see and do, and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves art and an interactive experience.

2019’s theme is “Design DNA”. “DNA is the building blocks of who we are, our identity. For IDS Vancouver 2019, each component, each varied shape represents a designer, concept, product, idea, moment, or experience – a piece of the overall DNA. Beyond the look and feel, the theme will be explored and interpreted in all facets of the show, including their onsite and offsite programming, special features and show floor activations.”

And “In addition to experiencing installations and features, there will also be opportunities to hear from some of the design world’s most notable and talented personalities and connect with a long list of world-class designers that either call Vancouver home, or call on Vancouver for inspiration.”

IDS is running this weekend from September 26-29 with additional parties and studios highlighting the design show at various locations. For more information on that visit the link below. https://vancouver.interiordesignshow.com/en/home.html

In this blog, I will only be covering exhibitors at the actual showcase, held at the Convention centre. A few of the highlights that were brought to our attention during the media preview, and a few of the displays that caught my eye as we explored the exhibition hall, as they were still setting up.

Right at the entrance is “A sense of place”. An feature brought to you by Benjamin Moore and a London based multidisciplinary artist. Emily Forgot looked at Canadian architecture when she combined shapes and colour palettes. You may recognize what was referenced, but it is all pretty abstract. Like the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and the Museum of Anthropology. All 14 of these original custom pieces are for sale, with 50% of those sales going to “out of schools”. “Out of schools” is “BC’s award-winning education program that uses film and video with facilitated group discussion to engage students on issues of homophobia, transphobia and bullying”.

At the “Edible Futures” section you take an audio tour through a “what if” world. Artists envision what our food sources would be like between now and the far future, and go into detail on how we get to that place. It presents multiple perspectives on global food security issues like climate change, declining fresh water supply, loss of biodiversity, food waste, and the gap between producers and consumers.

Seaweed as a meat substitutes and dumplings filled with weeds and wild flowers. This travelling exhibition curated by the Dutch Institute of Food and Design and presented by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, will have you going “hmmmm” over your next meal.

LA based retailer “Poketo” will have a pop-up this weekend. They are best known for their exhibitions and workshops that foster their local creative community. Hear from their founders and shop a selection of their design-conscious goods.

“Seeds” is a sea of sented ribbon to wade through. Dutch eating designer Marjie Vogelzang. It tells a story from seed to bread, where the kitchen’s functions are broken down to reveal the ways that the preparation and sharing food drives human connection.

One I am excited about, that wasn’t at its full construction was “The Bistro and Wine Bar” presented by Kim Crawford. A sampling bar that takes guest through five distinct varietals in a visual setting reflective of its aroma and taste.

The “VIP Lounge” is designed by “LIV”, an award winning design studio that incorporates all aspects of design into their practice, including branding, animation, illustration, and CG artistry. This resting place has curated furnishings and accents to help create and “regal and relaxing” VIP experience.

“Prototype” is a curated showcase of the next generation of designers. It features products and objects not currently in production. You as an attendee can vote for your favourite and between these votes and a panel of judges, the winning design gets its own feature at Studio North.

The “Restock Central Bar” highlights the waste from the residential construction industry. Its goal is to bring awareness to the message of salvaging and reusing to help build a more non-toxic future. This space has been created with 80-84% recycled material, 15% has been salvaged, and only 5-1% will go to the landfill. It has been erected with no cutting and no drilling, but instead, connecting materials with clips or straps so that it is intact for future use. “Restock” was designed by “measured architecture”, and built by “powers construction” with salvage materials by “unbuiler”.

Here are some additional visuals that caught my eye.

In short there is plenty to see and do at this unique trade show. Treat yours eyes and your senses at the Interior Design Show from the September 26-29th, at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Jimmy Choo high tea

When I saw the advert for this online, I jumped at the chance to attend what sounded like such a bougie high tea experience. At my current income bracket I could not hope to own a pair of Jimmy Choo’s shoes, so this would be my way of getting close to that lifestyle. However, things were not as expected, and I would continue to feel luxury at arm’s length this afternoon.

The event advertised a Jimmy Choo themed high tea tower, a look at their new fall collection, and a free gift. And it was the latter that sealed the deal for me and had me reaching for my wallet. I was most excited about the promise of a free gift. Not only would it be a great keepsake, but it would make the whole $150 ticket price worth it. I was expecting a key chain or a sample size of their fragrance to take home. Instead, everyone got a gift card, in a box, placed on their setting. It was a $100 gift card to put towards today’s pop up shop. Sadly, majority of the diners already splurged on this, and were not planing on spending more on a handbag at $1500 or a pair of pumps at $2100. So as it was the case with me, many gift card went unused. Left in the box to expire in less than a month’s time. The gift card had many stipulations. You could not combine gift cards, one per transaction; nor could you use them towards a fragrance. And there are no Jimmy Choo stores in Vancouver so you only had a limited time to redeem the card. A month, which is the time the pop up shutters down.

So already this event was off to a bad start in my books. And from here I was extra critical, trying to find value in what I had spent, yet coming out empty handed. For the visual blow by blow, and all the emotions, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

This high tea service, like all others at Fairmont Vancouver is held on the 15th floor, which is their roof. It is a lovely building with an amazing view, but the interior here is outdated, and nothing was done to mark the exclusivity of the occasion. You can enjoy tea here anytime with out a ticket, so I was wanted more bells and whistles for the commitment and price.

The only thing different, that was set up for the occasion was the showcase of Jimmy Choo shoes and small bags. Had I known this was targeted more as a shopping experience rather than high tea, I wouldn’t have bothered purchasing my ticket. And here I thought this was catered to us regular folk, a taste of the food life through finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets. Needless to say, I browsed the displays, lusted after the shoes, then simply walked away.

From here I continued to be disappointed in our food and drink offerings. You were able to choose your tea options from a list of 7. The menu listed them as “Lot 35 teas”, a brand I am familiar with, and one that I enjoy the prestige and quality of. One that I also felt would have matched well the feel of the space.

However what we actually got was tea by “David’s Tea”, as shown by the tags from the bags. It wasn’t bad per se, but it wasn’t what was advertised, and it felt a little too everyday for the upscale dining experience I bought in to.

We did each get a welcome glass of sparkling wine. This was not Moët, despite the menu listing Moët as the only option, at $30 a glass, if you wanted another. Yet another mar on the experience.

The actual tea tower was a pretty display. But besides a few of the desserts, it didn’t read any different or all that luxurious, or specifically like Jimmy Choo. I wanted more embellishments from each individual item, and a tray that was decorated and/or branded accordingly. I would valuable this at $50-60 for this. So I pretty much paid the remaining $90-100 for the gift card I will not be using. Nonetheless, the following is in the order of which we had them.

“Smoked salmon salad” with crème fraîche, salmon roe, and profiterole. Shredded fibrous salmon stuffed into a chewy pastry shell. The salmon roe was the highlight with its juicy pops.

The “Heirloom tomato” finger sandwich was visually appealing. Neufchâtel and balsamic pearls on whole wheat. The flavour came from the vinegary pearls, you had to place them strategically in order to get its tangy flavour with the other wise bland tomato sandwich. Some salt and pepper to taste would have been nice as well.

The “Traditional egg salad” came topped with thin slices of cucumber. It offered freshness and crunch to the otherwise pasty sandwich. The menu lists watermelon radish and brioche; I only got a sliver of the former as a garnish, and was missing brioche all together. As for the egg salad mixture it was chalky and light on mayo. Whereas I want tangy and maybe a little pickling from it.

The “Coronation Chicken” was my favourite of all the sandwiches. It had the most flavour with mango chutney, chilli, pickled walnut, and Pullman. The pickled walnut on top was interesting, it didn’t taste like a nut, and it wasn’t briny like a pickle. It was soggy and ate more like mushroom in its heartiness. The chicken spread was a tad spicy, and there was no sign of mango or its sweetness present.

I liked the look of the “Autumn harvest pea hummus” with prosciutto and ciabatta, but not its texture. And I didn’t find the ham and the hummus all that complimentary. The hummus was a pea forward grainy mush. The saltiness of the prosciutto hidden behind this flavour. The tangy goat cheese helped to pull it together, and the peppery pea shoots I found too much.

My guest doesn’t eat pork, so they substituted the prosciutto option above with beats and cream in another profiterole.

We each got two scones. One buttermilk raisin and one apricot. Served with orange marmalade, strawberry preserves, and clotted cream. The scones were perfect, exactly as I expected with plenty of spreads to give me the flavour I wanted.

For dessert, the two tone pink stiletto “Vanilla sugar cookie” was fun. Not too sweet, a great treat.

The “Macarons” were disappointing. They weren’t fresh. The shells were hard and crumbly and the cream, cakey. They were at least pretty in gold. Gold dusted caramelia cremeux and gold leaf topped elderflower cream. Neither were too sweet. Missing caramel, but got chocolate from the former. The latter was more floral.

The “Chocolate tart” was an explosion of chocolate, featuring a chocolate crust, a chocolate malt ball, a solid chocolate calling card, and plenty of creamy chocolate mousse. The Jimmy Choo logo was a nice tie in.

The “Orange pound cake” was a playful interpretation of one of the available to purchase Jimmy Choo handbags. The shade of pink was off, but the uniquely shaped crystal clasp was a pretty good match. I found the fondant too sweet, but the cake within, pleasant. Hints of orange from a nice sponge.

The most impressive of the lot was the “Lavender scented panna cotta”. All the balls and circles elevate this, adding juicy pops of jelly chews, along side the creamy panna cotta. The floral lavender notes paired well with the cassis brittle gel and passion fruit pearls. But it did get a little like eating perfume, towards the end.

The service was at least fantastic. Our server was attentive. He checked in on us and kept offering to take photos of us. And when we looked like we had, had our fill, he offered to pack it all up to go.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I expected a dip into luxury with this, and instead felt more on the outside looking in then ever. This was not for the every day person wanting to splurge, but a shopping experience for those who wouldn’t bat an eye at dropping $150 for a ticket to tea, and 2 more for each of their young daughters. Lesson learned, I will be staying away from ticketed high tea experiences for a while. Don’t deny your cravings.

FAIRMONT VANCOUVER
900 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC
(604) 684-3131
fairmont.com/hotel-vancouver

Starlight Casino

Today we were gathered at New Westminster’s “Starlight Casino”. Here, to get a more intimate look at this entertainment property. From two of its anchor restaurants to a game of baccarat in their salon room.

For the visual version, check out my latest vlog video, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

Our night began at “Kirin” for some fine Chinese cuisine. A whole suckling pig, lobster, and traditional dim sum desserts, to name a few. For more detail on what we ate, click the link below.

Kirin Banquet

 

As we nibbled we were also given a show by “Shang Noodle House” (also located within “Starlight”). They had their national noodle pulling champion from China, putting on a demonstration for us. She won the title 10 years ago, before she came to work with them here. From a ball of dough she pulled and stretched the round, repeating the motions again and again until she had noodle threads so thin and so soft.

We were then given a chance to touch it and hold it for ourselves. Although I wished there was time of us to try the pulling motion for ourselves, as well.

The final product was then deep fried for everyone to try. Crispy and crumbly, it melted in your mouth and tasted like corn flakes.

After dinner number one, we moved the party to the “Match Eatery” and pub, next door. We were given a tour of all their party rooms before finding ourselves in their “Bud room” with our own bar, pool table, and television screens. For the run down of “Match” and all that they have to offer as the place to party in New Westminster, visit the dedicated blog post below.

Match Eatery, Starlight Casino

From there it was a quick stop at the casino’s “Red Bar”. A bar and club of sorts. Every night, after 9pm its doors open and the party energy within spills on the actual casino floor. Here they have non-ticketed live bands playing every Friday and Saturday. Rotating musicians playing until 1pm and a live DJ taking over until they close at 2pm.

To immerse ourselves in the space further we enjoyed a “French 75”. A classic cocktail with gin, lemon juice, and sparkling wine.

With drink in hand we then rounded out the night playing baccarat, which all of us have never done so before. We were treated to a two round tournament in one of “Starlight’s “ prestigious salons. It is only open by special request with $25,000 buy-in to start and a $500 minimum to play. For those who request the salon, you are treated to your own concierge, they help with any requests you may have, and serve sparkling wine to help celebrate a win, or drown your sorrows in liquor.

The following are instructions on how to play baccarat, from what I retained. Naturally, there are a lot more nuisances to the game, but this is all I needed to get me through the first few rounds, where I started hot and fizzled out quick once my luck turned.

Each round is 20 hands. The goal of each hand is to get to 9. Aces are worth 1, face cards and 10s are 0. For example if you get a king and a 5, your total is 5 and another card is pulled trying to get to 9. The banker doesn’t draw on 7 or more, and the player will always draw on 5 or less. Either can only have up to 3 cards. You don’t actually hold any of the cards, the dealer places everything before them. A hand for the banker and one for the player. Your goal is to place your bet on whether you think the banker or the player would win. We were each given $2500 in chips to play with and one by one we busted. The last one standing won a gift card.

Thus, our night ended in us learning a whole lot more about the casino as a whole: sampling all the food options, checking out the entertainment possibilities, and trying our hand at the games. And yet there is still so much more we didn’t get to see and do. Definitely a great place for your next night out. And for those looking to go all out, they have shuttle service from the skytrain to the casino and back again, so you can leave your car and worries at home.

STARLIGHT CASINO
350 Gifford St., New Westminster, BC, V3M 7A3
(604) 777-8008
matchpub.com

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