VieAMaggi.com

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

Category: Lifestyle Page 1 of 31

Well Seasoned Cooking Class

Week Night Dinner with Chef Carl Sawatsky

Tonight my girlfriend and I were visiting “Well Seasoned”, a cookware supply store and cooking school all rolled into one. Located in Langley, it is a bit of a trek to get out there, but worth the effort for all the specialty items alone. We are not the most domesticated of women. We don’t pretend to know how to cook or even that we like to. So “Well Seasoned’s” intimate and approachable cooking classes seemed perfect for novices like us. A small class, reviewing with the basics, and giving you everything you need to enjoy cooking without the pressure.

We arrived early, so had the opportunity to peruse their shelves thoroughly. From cocktail mixes with socks to match, to hot sauces guaranteed to hurt going in and out. The store front is a food lover’s dream with many new flavours and elixirs to buy and try. There are even food themed dish cloths and aprons that help to add a little pizzaz to your everyday preparations. And best of all, enrolling in any class grants you 10% off on the purchase of any of these.

When time, our class congregated at the back of the shop, picking our spots, to be able to watch and duplicate three courses for our “Week Night Dinner” class. You take the class in pairs, an intimate workshop of 8 in total. We began by washing our hands and dawning one of their communal aprons. Each cooking station surrounds the staged instructor’s counter. It includes a televised screen broadcasting the overhead view. Multiple angles to watch and learn. And if you can’t retain it all, a recipe sheet is available at every seat for students to follow along with.

 

For the real life recap of the class and our lack of skills, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

I won’t be recapping the recipes and the how to here, you will have to take a class for yourself. But I will point out some interesting cooking tips and facts that I did learn. Our class was described online as, “Getting dinner on the table shouldn’t be the worst part of your day. It should be a great way to unwind and prepare a tasty, healthy meal for yourself, family and maybe even friends. Chef Carl will help you figure out how to take the pressure off in the kitchen and enjoy meal prep!” Tonight’s dinner included 3 courses, including dessert. Fresh Tomato Bruschetta, Creamy Portabella Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, and Coffee and Chocolate Steamed Pudding. One by one we would watch the demo and replicate what we had learned. Then after plating, we would get to consume our creations fresh.

We got enough ingredients to make 12 tomato bruschetta crostini between two. We marinated our freshly sliced cherry tomatoes with tomato vinegar, to amp up the flavour. Although our personable Chef spoke to using what we already have in our pantry, and utilizing it to help customize a meal. We rubbed freshly cut garlic onto broiled bread, then smeared it with thick ricotta cheese, before topping it generously with our tomato mixture and fresh basil. Simple, yet delicious, the type of dish I would definitely replicate for myself and others at home.

We then made our dessert next, so that it could sit and cool down before we dug in at the end of our class. A “coffee and chocolate pudding” that was topped with fresh whipped cream, and ate like a moist sponge cake.

This process was made easier for us with pre-measured ingredients. So we were only required to mix all the dry ingredients together, all the wet ingredients, then the two together. Here, we got a lesson on the quality of ingredients used and the difference they make. Like vanilla paste over extract, and instant expresso that the restaurant industry uses. The result, a dessert that was quick and surprisingly easy to make. And without the need to make it look “pretty”, another great dinner option in a pitch. Two for two, this class was right up our alley in terms of skill.

Our last course was a “creamy portobello chicken”. Made with heavy cream and plenty of butter, the “Well Seasoned” team was very accommodating when they offered my lactose allergic cooking mate, a coconut milk product to use instead. It didn’t quite taste like what was intended, but it still ended up really good.

Here, we went over knife skills: how to smash garlic, slice vegetables, and butterfly chicken breast. We also went over the importance of the wine being used in cooking. Chef advised not using wine that you wouldn’t consume as is. Quality in, quality throughout. Oxidized wine is okay, as long as you have drank it. Everything was pan fried at our table, over the portable stove stop. We learned that you know your pan is warm enough when you can smell the extra virgin olive oil, and can see the wisps of smoke coming from off of the pan. I liked how this recipe had everything coming together in one pan, saving time and the trouble of clean up.

When cooking meat, you want to have it turn golden brown, as this is a reaction of the caramelization of proteins, which equals flavour. Here, majority of amateurs cooks, such as myself, don’t leave the chicken alone, they toss it and turn it, instead of allowing it to brown; thus elongating the cooking process. This was a lesson in learning how impatient we are.

Our protein was served with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus seasoned in duck fat. Both of which ended up being my favourite part of this course, as they were both made by Chef Carl, in an effort to save time. Though we did get the demo as to how to do it ourselves, at home. For the potatoes, the bigger the pieces you can leave them the better, allowing them to sit on a sheet pan, before crushing them using one of many different types of apparatus. Here, he used a potato ricer with a hard squeeze and a finer gauge. And suggested flavouring it with mayonnaise, butter, sour cream, or any combination of all three.

Our entree was served with a glass of white, as a nice treat and a great way to pat ourselves on the back.

In short this was a great class and a fun thing to do. Date night or a way to learn basic cooking skills, you leave feeling full and having learned something new that you can apply to your everyday life. I highly recommend their comforting setting, a class without judgement or embarrassment. Just friendly fun.

To attend a class yourself, visit the link below or call the number to book.

Well Seasoned
20353 64 Ave #117, Langley City, BC V2Y 1N5
(604) 530-1518
https://wellseasoned.ca/collections/cooking-class-vouchers

Vancouver International Wine Festival 2020, Tasting Room

The 42nd annual Vancouver International Wine Festival was a success. Eight days of wine and food fuelled fun. The event hosted 163 wineries, with 16 countries participating in 57 events, showcasing 1,450 different wines, with over 25,000 participants and attendees. And featuring 42 wineries from this year’s featured country alone: France. There is no surprise that this is Canada premier wine show.

If you can’t attend the week’s worth of events, or any of multiple seminars, dinners, and shows a day; I suggest at least attending one of the grand tastings. With 4 different opportunities, this is the best way to see and try many different wines as possible, all in one setting. It is essentially a wine convention, where wineries are arranged by country. And guests are invited to peruse through rows of tables, with each table representing a specific winery. At each, you can taste your way through their entire offerings: white, rose, sparkling, and/or red. Coming back for more of what you like.

Amongst all the drink options there were nibbles to snack on and games and activities to engage in. Cured meat carved from bone, miniature gelato scoops into miniature cones, and a showcase of cheeses and crostini to graze on.

We tried our hand at a few contest draws and tested our sensory skills by identify shades of wine and flavours that would go in to them.

One of my favourites booths is the Riedel one. I have always believed in the importance of the vessel when it comes to drinking, and I get to experience it first hand when I drink out of their varietal stemware.

  

We tried so many wines, and there were even more that we couldn’t get to. So the following is merely a glimpse at this awe-inspiring assembly. Something to marvel over and use as inspiration when looking into attending this event next year. If not others along with it. And help create the hype, the feature country is already announced. The 43rd annual Vancouver International Wine Festival will be celebrating the wines of South America.

VanWineFest may be over, but you can still enjoy your favourite festival wines. Many wines from the onsite BC Liquor Stores Festival Wine Shop will be available at select BC Liquor Stores – some even have the winery principal’s signature, a fantastic festival souvenir.

Need a guide to your festival faves? Download the Tasting Room program pdf, which lists all the wines in the room. Or get the festival app from Google Play or the App Store. Many of these wines are available at BC Liquor Stores and private wine shops. Buying festival wines is the best way to show your support and appreciation to the 162 wineries that brought their wines directly to you at VanWineFest 2020.

Vancouver International Wine Festival Headquarters:
Vancouver Convention Centre West
1055 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC V6C 0C3

Visa Infinite Dining Series: Wildebeest

Today I was invited to my very first “Visa Infinite Dinner” featuring the collaborative efforts of “Wildebeest”, Vancouver and “Le Vin Papillon” in Montreal. Both of which helmed respectively by chefs Ian McHale and Jesse Grasso, friends and colleagues in this Montreal inspired meal to come. (As taken from the press release) Chef Grasso is “the third sibling in the Joe Beef clan and currently No.13 on Canada’s Top 100 list”. He will bringing his celebration of vegetables and cheeses to “Wildebeest’s” table of butchery, charcuterie, and game. A five course feast with canapés to start, and perfectly selected wine pairings every step of the way. Said wine was chosen by “Wildebeest’s” wine director, Christina Hartigan”. She is an impressive wine expert and enthusiast, with the title of BC’s second best sommelier.

“Wildebeest’s” cozy restaurant made the perfect setting for this private event. The narrow space had guests surrounded by red brick walls, wood panel separators, leather booths, and bulbs suspended by pulleys. Its rustic, yet homey feel played off their scratch-made, nose to tail, Pacific Northwest cuisine, well. We were seated towards the back, under the plume of a multitude of dried bouquets. Each seat was set with a name card and a menu listing the courses to come.

The night began with all the guests mingling in a mixed setting. Christina was at the back pouring glasses of “Jean Bourdy Crémant de Jura”. This was an easy drinking, 100% Chardonnay made in champagne-style. She mentioned that this was the perfect bottle to pair with likes of the light snacks that were also being passed around at this time.

The “Pomme Anna with kamouraska smoked eel” were tasty potatoes bites fried in waygu fat, and then topped with the eel and a dollop of sweeter mayonnaise. It was sumptuously rich and fatty in all the right ways. Definitely a great one to have with beer, or better yet: the sparkling above.

Next to be passed out was the “Waygu tartare with Chilliwack Horseradish”. It was served in a porcelain spoon for easy eating. It had a peppery tang that ended fairly garlicky. I liked the flavour, but am not a fan of the texture of tartare in general. Whereas, I prefer my raw beef in sheets, rather than minced.

I really liked the “Chicken liver and foie gras parfait with preserved wild berries on brioche”. I could have eaten a half dozen of these. Deliciously luscious pâté, smeared on thick. The sweetness of the berry played off the meaty paste well, and the crunchy brioche added some needed texture to the bite.

And I think this is first time trying whelks. They are much like their land cousins, and even seasoned similarly, here. These sea snails were prepared in plenty of butter with fragrant herb and garlic to finish. The seasonings masked anything musky you might not have wanted. I did like the firm chew of the whelks, it was a texture more like squid than escargot, which I prefer.

The “little neck clam with mirepoix bolognese” was served in shell. A scoop with flavours that ate like a meal, but I didn’t get much clam coming through.

When time, we were all directed to our assigned seats to start our meal. But first, a quick introduction to the program before us and acknowledgment of our traveling guest chef. Then our sommelier Christiana guided us through her wine choices, featuring many natural wines to speak to “Le Vin Papillon”.

The sit down portion of our night began with the “Mai & Kenji Hodgson Les Aussigouins 2016 Chenin Blanc; from Anjou, France. This is wine with a Vancouver connection. It is made by a former Vancouver wine writer that moved to France to make wine. His vintage was a lovely, medium bodied white with no oakiness, a fresh sipper that would pair well with the saltiness of the ham and starchiness of celeriac to come.

“Little burgundy ham, Avonlea cheddar, and brown butter”. This was one of the best ham and cheese platters I have ever had to date; and that says a lot, as this was just one of each kind being offered. But perfection together, with the savoury sweetness of the brown butter sauce coming through. I couldn’t stop picking at it. The creamy texture from the mildly smoked ham was memorable, especially how it played off the sharp and chalky cheese.

“Slow roasted celeriac, pickled chantrelles, and smoked walnuts”. Much like the dish above, this too was a light start that focused on delicious textures. Each element came together for a well balanced bite. Smooth celeriac, meaty mushrooms, and crunchy walnuts; best with a smear of oil from the pool at the bottom of the plate.

Our next wine tasting was the “Hajszan Neumann Nussberg 2018 Grüner Veltliner” from Vienna, Austria. Our in house sommelier declared that this is a wine that doesn’t get enough attention, so she would bring light to it here. It pairs well with any green vegetable, like the leeks in our fish course below. Its dairy nods went well with the green sauce and its savoury notes.

The “Lois Lake Steelhead, with Salt Spring Island mussels, leek velouté, Chilliwack lemongrass, and shore greens” would be my favourite dish of the night. And this is surprising considering I don’t often gravitate towards fish, or would I choose it over a heavy red meat main or a decadent pasta. But this buttery fish that ate like sashimi had it all, and I would order it again in a heartbeat. The freshness of the puréed leeks, the zested lemon in the sauce brightening things up, and the perfectly pedestal-ed mussels creating both visual and textural interest.

Next for wine we had the only red of the night, ideal for the red meat to follow. “La Stoppa Macchiano 2011 Barbera, Bonarda. This was a limited release from Central Northern Italy, pulled out from a cellar. It is a blend of two grapes at 50/50, all picked from a single vineyard. Made using traditional wooden vats that are unfiltered and triple decanted. The result, a smokier red with fine tobacco notes.

The red’s tartness helped to balance out the saltiness from the “Pastrami Pithivier served with sauerkraut, foie gras, house mustard, and bordelaise”. This was basically the merging of two Classic Montreal foodstuffs. A tourtiere filled with shredded Montreal smoked meat. But sadly I am not a fan of smoke meat, even with the delicious mustard plates. But I did appreciate the artistry and butteriness of the flaky pie crust and the gravy that I picked up with it.

Next, was the “Quebec cheese course”, another simple serving that I was caught off guard by how much I liked. There was pageantry in the plating of the Jersey royal cheese, topped with real honey comb, and served along side butterfly shortbread cookies and Quebec lingonberry. The latter most was even cultivated by monks in Quebec. This was a clean presentation that ate that way too. You spread chunky cheese over not all that sweet cookie, and topped it off with tangy berries in syrup. It was as fun to eat as it was to craft.

To pair with it we enjoyed an unique Quebec cider that you can’t normally find in BC. This is a bottle of fermented, 100% russet. Apples and cheese are a natural pairing and together the sweetness of the cider mellows out cheese above. But with an oakiness to it from the fermentation process. Dry and effervescent, it helped wash everything down.

And to close out the night, dessert was a “Grand Fir: Black locust, Chantilly, and cannoli pastry”. The pastry had an amazing crunch to it, like a solid strip of corn flake with ground sugar. And the black locus gel was set with vinegar, making it not too sweet. But I am not a fan of the texture of whipped creams in general, so it was a little much for me here. Although, I did enjoy the fresh lemon zest I got from it.

As its paring and our last glass, we had the “LaStella Moscato d’Osoyoos 2018 Muscat”. It is from Osoyoos in BC, but done in an Italian style; making it not as sweet as other Moscatos. A light sparkle coupled with floral and peachy notes.

In conclusion I was floored by the quality and caliber of this dinner, nothing disappointed. It delivered as advertised and I would be clamouring to attend any such Visa Infinite dinners in the future. And if you ever get the chance I suggest you do too. Simply fantastic.

Get tickets to exclusive Visa Infinite Dining Series events featuring unique chef collaborations, multi-course meals and wine pairings all in a private setting at Canada’s top restaurants.
https://www.visainfinite.ca/infinite/en/home.html?category=foodWineLink

Wildebeest
120 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1G8
(604) 687-6880
wildebeest.ca

Ombré Powdered Eyebrows, @BrowsByWinnie

I am lazy, I like to make my life easier whenever I can: looking out for short cuts worth taking and procedures worth doing, and today I was exploring the world of semi-permanent make-up.

I have thought about getting my eyebrows done before, something to help fill in the bald patches and round out the ends. Although at the same time, I didn’t think I actually needed the service, given that my eyebrows were already pretty thick and I am confident enough to go out everyday without doing anything to them. However an opportunity arose and I figured why not give it a try, to at least see if I liked it, if not to simply have the experience of getting a face tattoo.

 

I decided to go in to my session blind. No research, no reviews; heck, I didn’t even know what treatment I was getting exactly. All to be able to offer up this informative blog review of the new powdered ombré eyebrow treatment. For the raw and real recap, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei; where I filmed the whole process step by step. Or keep reading for the detailed description.

The salon I was getting it done at is located on Kingsway, my session was with specifically one of the technicians that work there: @browsbywinnie. She is trained in eyelash extensions and now powdered brows. Questions, I would later ask and she would later answer, as we undergone my treatment. She was certified in this technique last August and since then has completed the process over 50 times. Given her aesthetic and her own brows; done with the similar technique, I felt more confident in the process by just looking at her.

But before I could lay on her table I had to fill out a multi-page form that had me signing away liability and disclosing medical information I didn’t know, on illness I didn’t have. It was thorough. A check-list of sorts that Winnie would later go through with me, allowing me to ask all the questions as I needed, in order to feel safe with what I was about to get done.

Powder ombré eyebrows are the latest trend in eyebrow enhancement. Ideal, to those who don’t have much hair or brows that are too thin, and like the “make up look”, but might not want to go though having to do it themselves everyday. The other, and similar option is microblading, which has the technician drawing individual hairs for a more natural look. What I was going to get done would require shading and a more intense outline.

My concerns were not the pain, but more the commitment of having these brows for 2 years, or for however long, before they fade. A shape and a colour I would customize and choose, outside of what I was naturally born with.

The process begins with measurements. Dyed string and plastic rulers taped to my forehead helped create a guide. Where my brows would start and stop, as per my specifications. I had asked Winnie to simply follow my natural eyebrow. The first take had her doing just that, with me adding on adjustments, after the fact. After looking at it all coloured in and bold I decided I wanted a bit more definition in my arch. A look she was able to help me achieve with a little shaving using a razor blade and a q-tip dipped in alcohol to clean up any excess. She had me look in the mirror and approve the final drawing before we would move on.

Next it was picking the colour I wanted for my brows. You do this like how you would order off a menu, a menu of black to brown swatches. I followed the hue of my dyed hair, and choose a warmer light brown shade. This this would also help with the more subtle end result I was looking for.

When ready I was told to lie down on a Saran wrapped dentist-like chair, and to make myself comfortable. I relaxed as she prepped all the ink and tools needed, because once again, she was giving me a face tattoo. She began by drawing an outline of the brow, I felt the straight lines being drawn on my forehead. I didn’t find this part painful, but did learn that I have the unconscious habit of raising my right brow and keeping it arched, that most clients find their right eyebrow more sensitive that their left; and that the closer to the centre of your face she goes the more tender you feel, and. Luckily the next part she numbs your face for.

An ointment is applied directly to your mouth eyebrow. Saran Wrap keeps it covered. The result, pain free shading to follow. You are able to get a re-up on the ointment as many times and as often as you want. Winnie is patience and concern over your comfort. She told me a few people have screamed, none have cried, and that I was the first one to giggle. She commented on my high pain tolerance in disbelief, I never felt prouder. She compared the experience of the process and the healing to getting a tattoo done. The buzzing of the cordless tool, the scanning and itching that will follow in the days to come, and my inability to peel or scratch. The outcome today isn’t what is intended and won’t be what I get a week from now. The dye will appear darker to begin with, and like other tattoos it will fade. But where as regular tattoos go deeper into your skin to dye it, her’s are more surface level and therefore will fade over time. The longevity of the procedure depends on the person and how they heal. Here, no immediate touch up is required like you do with micro blading, just a follow up whenever you feel your new brows need a pick me up.

Right brow after left brow the process was quicker than expected. Not the 3.5 hours that you plan for, and that the appointment lists. The extra time is just an insurance, the actual shading took under an hour. I was there for only 2. And the only discomfort is her having to lay her hand on your face like a table, to shade. You get the occasional knuckle in the closed eye socket, but nothing you can’t handle.

When completed, she wipes your face down with a baby wipe to remove all excess ink splatter and dark spots. My first blush impression was positive, a new look that still resembles me. But all subsequent looks in the mirror had me not recognizing the person before me. This definitely took some getting use to. Also, for a week I had to apply eye makeup on thick, so that my bold eyebrows matched the rest of my face. But fast forward two weeks, I love the way they look and I love the way I look with them. Along with my eye lash extensions, I now have no fuss and no muss beauty 24/7.

As for the treatment itself, Winnie was a delight. She was patient with all my question, gentle in all her actions, and warming in her approach. I wasn’t scared because she was so calm and could speak to her own powder ombré experience. We ended up chatting as she completed my procedure. And much like a doctor talks to distract you from the pain of a needle, she had me recommending my favourite restaurants, and forgetting that I was changing my face by having a needle drag across it repeatedly. The session went smooth and I was sent away with a little draw string baggy that included her business card if I needed any help, after care tips and an ointment to dab and not rub in to my new brows, to help in the healing process.

 

In conclusion, if you are thinking about getting this procedure done and are either weary of the consequences or can’t find the right person to go to, I highly recommend @browsbywinnie. An modestly priced service that gives you back time in your day to day routine, is money well spent. Check out the link below for the salon and how to book with her.

JT Beauty Parlour
1726 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5N 2S3
(604) 423-3822
https://jtbeautyparlour.as.me/schedule.php

Ahwaz Hookah House

I haven’t been to many hookah lounges in Vancouver. It is something I typically engage in on vacation as a vibe, and only in Malaysia or Mexico (apparently). But tonight we were visiting it as an after dinner activity, something different with the opportunity for me to practicing blowing smoke “O’s”.

The name of the lounge translates to “noise” according to my hookah partner. A bit of a contradiction given the stillness in the room and the early 00’s r&b and hip hop, slow jam playlist. It was intentionally calming and melodic, whereas I wanted something more upbeat, as that was the mood we were in.

The shoppe is an intimate space with a fabric tented ceiling and lights that strobed colour. The room was kept dim and compact with artifacts. The multitude of framed portraits and gilded accoutrement added to the authenticity of the place. That and each hookah apparatus being labeled as hailing from Egypt.

You enter the small space and head to the desk at the back of the room. A clutter of knick knacks and a collection of ornamental hookahs in varying sizes. Here, the owner/care taker takes your order. You are basically just choosing which fruity flavour of shisha, (a molasses-based tobacco concoction smoked in a hookah) that you want. The flavours include apple, grape, orange, strawberry, lemon, or mixed fruit; each the same $20 fee. We went for the watermelon upon my request. I like the flavour and you don’t often see it on other fruit focused menus. As for the taste, it tasted exactly as expected, and more so when you breathe in with the tip of your tongue out.

The chalky brick of shisha is torched on fire. With its embers glowing, it sits on a pedestal wrapped in tinfoil. You breathe in its smoke through a nozzle at the end of a tube, that connects to the base of the hookah. You know it is working when you see the water bubble and sound, at the bottle of it. For hygiene reasons, each smoker gets their own nib to place in the tube, you use this to suck in smoke through your mouth; and it is discarded after your visit.

The notion and activity offers something to do and a place to do it in, all at an affordable price. Coupled with a light head high, if you are doing it right. At first I was sheepish about sharing the confided space so closely with the others that were already seated on couches and chairs. Gathered together, but in their own twosomes surrounding their own hookah, stationed on a knee-height table. However, given the close proximity to one another, we were able to engage with a few of these other groups: exchanging commentary on the music choice, and sharing tips on how to blow smoke doughnuts. Overall a great experience, and something different to try.

AHWAZ
1322 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6E 3M5
(604) 696-9376

Science of Cocktails 2020

Another year at the Science of Cocktails and it continues to not disappoint. This is a one-of-a-kind drink and food fuelled night, hosted within the city’s most iconic dome. Those gathered are here to support underserved schools, raising funds so that school children can have the opportunity to visit Science World. The monies earned cover 50-100% of their admission and transportation, with an estimation that 9,000 kids will be exploring Science World in wonder between 2020-2021. “By the end of this school year, over 30,000 kids will have benefitted from funds raised in the five years Science of Cocktails has been running”, (as taken from the event’s press release).

“All proceeds from Science of Cocktails, including ticket sales, 50/50 draw, coat check, and silent auction prizes, go to support the Class Field Trip Bursary Program”. With the dedicated event teams, bartenders, and chefs volunteering their time and efforts to make this event successful”. This great cause has already raised $1.2 million dollars cumulatively, thanks in part to selling out the 5 years in a row that they have been doing this.

For those who have yet to attend, this is a great night where guests peruse tables and stands, chatting up the city’s favourite chefs and most talented bartenders. Each of which have created a sensory food or drink experience to be sampled. Each of which showcases science through unique ingredients and/or unorthodox techniques.

This year there were more than 35 cocktail stations and a handful of food stations. So many different stalls that we were unable to visit and cover them all. The following is what we did get to, with a few of my favourites highlighted.

Worth noting is that a lot of the food tables ran out mid way through the night, so you need to work with urgency if you want to hit them all. With a buffet mentality you can pretty much eat and drink as much as you like, tasting it all, and returning for your favourites.

“Empress” gin showcased their colour changing liquor by adding acid in the form of tonic water and lemon. They were able to do this to match Pantone’s current colour of the year: “classic blue” and a purple in “Radiant Orchid”. The colour cards here were a nice touch.

“Monkey Shoulder” whiskey teamed up with Nespresso for a spiked coffee shot, sweetened with pineapple flavoured cotton candy for extra whimsy.

I am forever a fan of “Hendricks” and their romantic branding coupled with a little tongue and cheek sensuality.

“Bombay Sapphire” and “St. Germain” made a cocktail that glowed in the light of a black light bulb.

A robot bartender took precision mixing to a whole new level by making White Russians for its audience.

“Maestro Dobel Tequila” put on a show by adding a lot of smoke to their cocktail.

A similar technique and trend was also used in the “Bubble and Pop” cocktail with flavour adding smoke.

But why drink your cocktail when you can chew it? Especially if they are gelatine shots served by a lucha libre.

“Nutrl vodka” had a three storey tea drip that was eye catching.

And for those who wanted a break from mixed drinks, they could look to “Road 13” for either their red or white pours.

Feeling a little peckish? “El PLTR” impressed your eyes and your stomach with their expansive charcuterie platter. A collection of finger foods in savoury and sweet from meat balls and hummus to fresh fruit and chocolate with nuts. A help yourself smorgasbord that saw a continuous line.

At the “Lazy Gourmet” booth guests had the black ink risotto with salmon crudo, citrus pearls, and fennel dust.

“Emelle’s” catering offered up easy to eat “elemental salad spoons”. Beet and balsamic spheres with an infused extra virgin olive oil and freeze dried plant-based “chèvre”.

“Hapa Izakaya’s” vegan edamame roll was a popular one. A fully loaded sushi roll with edamame, avocado, shiso, oshinko, green beans, rice puffs, and a torched miso sauce.

“Peake of Catering’s”, Chef Michael Chan won best overall dish for his Lobster Terrine with Crystal Bread and Miso Powder. A surreal looking hors d’oeuvre that had you doing a double take, wondering if you were going to be eating plastic.

And as you sipped and nibbled you have the option of taking in scientific demonstrations like the “Reuben’s Tube, where sound waves create spectacular columns of flames”. And at the centre stage there were a variety of shows at predetermined time slots, like the tricky bartending. All the regular exhibits were also open for interacting with as well.

Like the feature exhibit, which is the new “LEGO Towers or Tomorrow”. This has been transformed to the VIP lounge. A special area with additional activities, live music, and catering for special ticket holders. The extra cost in the ticket gives you extra. And it is well worth it for the ability to sit and relax in a calm space, alone. A respite between the hustle and bustle of this multi-storey event.

It included a stage with live performers, and a lengthy bar offering specialty mixed cocktails only available within.

Here, VIPs could get professional head shots to take home as souvenirs, by “The Near and Dear”. Andrea our artistic director was great at posing her models, and recreating their vision for themselves in black and white.

VIPs also enjoyed additional food the likes of a seafood grazing platter hosted by “Boulevard”. An impressive spread that included fresh shucked oysters, crab legs, and large shrimp. So impressive that it won Chef Roger Ma and his team the title of “Best Presentation”.

There was also a circulating collection of small bites that include foie gras macarons, and later desserts when the night drew to a close. Two bite sponge and mousse, panna cotta, chocolates and gummies.

In short, there is no other event like this, and many reasons why I look forward to it every year. If you have never been, make sure you bookmark the link below to attend next year’s soirée. And if you have, upgrade the experience with a VIP ticket, which is well worth it. Because remember, 100% of your ticket goes towards a great cause.

Check out the more telling vlog, now up on my YouTube Channel: MaggiMei.

Presale tickets are already available for next year’s event:
When: February 4, 2021
Where: TELUS World of Science | 1455 Quebec St, Vancouver, BC
Price: Presale General Admission tickets cost $135 with a charitable tax receipt of $30. Presale VIP tickets cost $225 with a charitable tax receipt of $125
Tickets: Presale tickets are available until February 28 at https://www.scienceworld.ca/science-of-cocktails/tickets/
Hashtag: #ScienceOfCocktails

Taboo: Naughty but Nice Sex Show

In continuing our quest to attend as many conventions as possible this year, my girl friend and I found ourselves at the “Taboo: Naughty but Nice Sex Show”. We strolled in around mid day, not wanting to be too eager right when they open at 1pm.

It has been years since my original visit, so I walked in expecting what I could recall from memory; especially as it was held at the old convention centre today, as it was back then. An open space where guests were able to get up close to products, try things out when possible, ask questions to vendors, and take what they liked home, after. The sprawling space was kept warm, and the air heavy and hot. The temperature meant to keep those who decided to dress with less warm, with coat check outside for everyone else.

Tickets are reasonable at $20 an entry at the door, or $5 less if you purchase ahead of time. It includes a goodie bag of flyers and adverts, with admission and the ability to spectate several seminars, live shows, and work shops all throughout the day. All on top of getting handsy and up close and personal with a lot of product. An opportunity many might not get to do, or feel comfortable doing at their local sex shop or even specialty grocery store. But this assortment didn’t just include lingerie, restraints, lube, or vibration devices. Tables and makeshift stalls to browse through also included plenty of fashion jewelry, cosplay animal ears, boudoir opportunity, lotions and body scrubs, hand made soaps with sexually suggestive names, candles that doubles as body wax, and a slew of clothes from lounge pieces to bodices covered in crystal.

There was a lot more to see across the whole convention space, although at the same time after a couple of laps, one phallic representation does end up looking like any another. The following are a few of the highlights through photos.

Declare your sugar baby status or your daddy issues with merchandise that is easy to read across your chest or panties.

Meet the latest life-like sex dolls with both male and female anatomy. You can look but don’t touch, a point I didn’t realize until writing this post and looking back at my photos.

There was no shortage in penial shaped treats. Sugar cookies, ring pops, and even a bouquet of them to suck on. I was most enamoured by the artistry of “Punk Rock Pastries”. At their booth you can purchase vagina or penis cookies, browsing the entire collection until you found ones with the skin tone, veins, and shape that appeals to you the most. They also hand bondage bread men, cookies of your favourite sexual position (doggy style), and even whole cakes topped with your favourite sexual anatomy piece.

Feeling over stimulated? Catch your breath at the oxygen bar.

Need to take a seat? Live classes taught those interested how to bind your partner and penetrate her, with rope and full nudity. Others taught females how to ejaculate/squirt. Or go for something light hearted with a stage show hosted by a drag queen with full audience participation and prizes. She had couples give each other lap dances, and tested individuals on the spot by asking for their orgasm faces and voices.

Guests could also test their agility and stamina on poles or hoops suspended in the air. Or dare to enter the truck advertising free candy and getting a little more. At the latter, we were able to test our might through a little whipping. Laying face down, ass up we had two ladies take turns flogging our backside with a multiple tasseled leather whip. (This will be the most action I get in a while.)

And best of all, alcohol is served with multiple bars at the side of the room. Wine, beer, or cocktails; anything to help nervous ticket holders relax and get into things. Although all in all it is a very free and open space. Several men and women came dressed in their best attire with no judgement or double takes from anyone. Corsets, stockings, pasties, and ball gags. There was even a lone furry wandering the crowd.

In summary, a great expo for those wanting to expand their sexual repertoire, or learn how to spice things up in a current relationship one week before Valentine’s Day. With plenty to see and learn you can easily spent a day there. No need to be shy!

https://tabooshow.com/vancouver

Wellness Expo 2020

My girl friend invited me to the “Wellness Expo” at the Vancouver convention centre the first weekend of February. I am not know for being particularly health conscious or even looking to be more physically fit for summer, so this was a harder sell for me. Thankfully I am always down to trying something new, and was therefore pleasantly surprised by my first ever visit.

Naturally I won’t be able to cover everything that I saw and did, in the detail that I do. However, I will include highlights and pinpoint interesting products below.

Each ticket holder is given a goodie bag at the entrance, upon check-in. A reusable bag from their sponsors filled with assorted samples to take home and try at your leisure. This also serves as a great bag to stock up and store all your purchases and additional collected samples within.

Like most other expos, it is a sprawling space where guest visited booths at their own pace, try samples that appeal, and strike up conversations with vendors based on interests. Closest to the door were all the food and drink samples, transitioning to wellness products, and new age practices towards the back. This was a self serve marketplace where entrepreneurs and spokespeople introduced newer products or lines that you might not otherwise get to hear of.

There were so many samples that I found myself having an accumulated lunch there. Gourmet salsa with fresh fruit and vegetables. All vegan soups that have you not missing meat. Gluten free pizza crusts that don’t taste like ash. Veggie patty alternatives, herbal mushroom chocolates, teas, and coffees; and even healthy pet snacks for your beloved cat or dog.

For dessert there was several yogurt options to smack on, a diary free ice cream worth trying, chocolate flavoured hummus, popcorn with a protein powder sprinkled over top, and low calorie candy.

For those looking for more nutritional focused items there were plenty of protein mixes, powered vitamins; and plenty of supplements in gummy, pill, and drink form. One a day juices that promises to cleanse and rejuvenate your skin. Drink that are chalk full of antioxidants. Majority of which were available to purchase here, and at major Vancouver health food stores in the future.

There are also a couple of of all natural make up lines and hygiene goods. A shampoo bar that eliminates plastics in the shower. And a salon booth serving women with on the spot curls or hair straightening. The latter which had me sold and walking home with a new straightener that promised the results would last up to three days on unwashed hair.

My guest and enjoyed getting a health check with a laser to the palm of our hands. Results were better than expected and included solutions on how to get it even better. We also had our aura decoded with a scan of our palms. What the colour signatures said about you bodily health, and how it is reflected in your mental wellness. This came with pages of homework that included a list of supplements and activities that would help realign any issues. We the treated ourselves to a couple of crystal and semi precious stone bracelets, each with its own healing property.

In short the wellness expo is more than just a bunch of hawkers promoting a healthy lifestyle, it is a wide breath of new and local products aimed at day to day well being and creating dietary solutions. A great expo where you definitely feel like you are getting your money’s worth at. I will have to be back next year.

Vancouver Convention Centre West
1055 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC V6C 0C3

home

LEGO’s Towers of Tomorrow, Science World

Tonight I was invited to check out the opening of Science World’s latest exhibit: “Towers of Tomorrow” with LEGO® Bricks presented by Concert Properties and White Spot Restaurants”. This new feature gallery boasts 20 of the world’s most eye-raising skyscrapers from Canada, the United States, Australia, Asia and the United Arab Emirates. Each is constructed with breathtaking architectural detail and accuracy by Australia’s Ryan McNaught, the only certified LEGO® professional in the Southern Hemisphere.

Each tower is on a scale of 1:200, and a few include “Easter eggs”. A little tidbit we learned during the welcome announcements. These include LEGO brick trees in one tower, as it is in its real life counterpart. And the use of colour changing and reflective plastic to simulate the look glass; once again, much like the actual tower it is meant to mimic.

These LEGO® towers offer visitors a bird’s eye view, one that you might not otherwise be able to travel to, let alone see, in person. Their intricacy is just as impressive in model size. Surrounded by so much inspiration, LEGO fanciers young and old are then invited to recreate their own ‘tower of tomorrow’. They can do this by digging through over 200,000 loose LEGO® bricks, a pool you are available to grab a seat in front of, and thumb through. Bricks include the regular size version, as well as Duplo for the younger kids. There is also plenty of hands-on construction areas to take your time and enjoy the building process.

Each LEGO tower comes with its own description card, including the background of the building it took inspiration from. Its name, location, height, when it was completed, and by whom. They also compare the original to the LEGO version by listing how tall the tower of tomorrow is, how many hours it took to build, and by using how many bricks. Visitors can explore each, with the largest ones free standing, and raised to the sky. The smaller ones are set up on the upper deck of the activity tables. These are harder to get a good look at with all the kids and adults in seats building. It would have been nice to have the two experiences separated.

Some of the North America towers featured in this gallery includes Toronto’s CN Tower, Philadelphia’s Comcast Technology Center, Los Angeles’ Wilshire Grand Center, Chicago’s Willis Tower, Atlanta’s Bank of America Plaza, New York’s super slender skyscrapers 111 West 75th Street, Central Park Towers, Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building.

I was most excited to see the towers that I have visited in person. Like Tokyo’s skytower and Malaysia’s twin towers.

We learned that the world’s tallest skyscraper, and thus tallest tower in this exhibit is the “Burj Khalifa”, located in Dubai at 828 metres high, its 200:1 scale model is 4140 millimetres high. It took 35 hours to build using 3365 bricks.

For some structures closer to home, look to the back of the gallery. Here, there is an interactive Community Building exhibit. It is “designed to facilitate creative thinking and playing with how urban and neighbourhood design can support and contribute to thriving communities” (as taken from the press release). I was especially amused with the LEGO Science World.

And outside of the entrance to the gallery, visitors will be able to “contribute to a crowdsourced LEGO® mural that over time will reveal a fun, large-scale landscape of some of Vancouver’s most iconic features”. Thus, encouraging repeat visits, in order to see it unfold.

The “exhibition also features TransLink’s Transport2050 MicroCity animated 3D model presenting the story of Metro Vancouver’s transportation and transit past, present and future. The experience was developed to inspire thought, discussion and feedback utilized to shape the next 30 year blueprint – Transport 2050.”

 

For a more telling visit, and the grand opening festivities, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

This exhibition runs from January 24 to September 7, 2020
Tickets are available at https://tickets.scienceworld.ca/

Dinner With A View

You have probably seen the photos and videos for this one of a kind dining experience, bouncing around social media. Well it is finally open, and they have now settled in West Vancouver for the season, running from January 15th to February 16th, 2020.

This is “Dinner with a View”, a travelling dinner troupe that sets up and dismantles their domes and its luxe setting, moving from city to city. The chosen location is at Ambleside Park. The lit domes are visible driving up, with plenty of free parking around. Their next destination, after Vancouver is San Francisco. Each stop takes a couple weeks to build, with the staff screwing hexagonal plexi-panels together to form each dome. You book your seat by the round, $200 each with chairs for 6; so basically it is $33.33 per person. Dinner is separate, at $109.99 per person. It is prepared by 2019’s “Top Chef Canada” winner: Paul Moran; who is traveling with the troupe on its North American tour.

The menu is a surprise with the ability to simply choose between meat, fish, or vegetarian for your entree. They are calling this a “blind tasting”, but you can continue reading to see what you can actually expect from this luxury experience. Or better yet, watch my vlog recap, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei. Get the behind the scenes look and the real deal feel, to see if this one is worth attending yourself. On that note, tickets and seatings are still available until February 16, at 7pm and 9:30pm.

 

Despite your seating time, I highly recommend coming down earlier to take in the scenery and grab a drink at their pop up bar. Not only does this extend your time amongst the domes, but it also allows you to take some memorable shots before dinner, as to not take away your time within a dome.

The bar is serviced by a lone bartender offering up mixed cocktails from prominent spirits brands and/or wine. We started with the “Ketel One Bontanical” grapefruit spritz and the “Tanqueray” gin “sevilla tonic”. Well enjoyed with mood lighting and stand up tables. We then moved on to red and white wine by “Frico”. I enjoyed the medium bodied red with good mailability. Each was an easy drinking wine that transitioned from a stand and sip beverage, to the pairing for each of the three courses to come.

Our entire time slot stood and chatted, while servers cleared tables and tidied up from the service before. As we sipped and lingered, we were given table numbers that corresponded to the number on one of the domes. And when time, we were ushered to our dome, entering, after unzipping the doorway flap.

Our dinner night came with heavy rain and flooded roads. The packed earth each dome sat on was muddy, pooled with pockets of water that made it hard for some to get to their designated seats. Worth nothing is that you don’t get to choose your dome, and that each is decorated slightly different from the next. Different furniture and different faux plants. Our dome had orange chairs with cushions, black and white geometric throws, and plastic cacti in a white planters. Others were outfitted with long tables and shared benches covered in faux fur. Some were extra tropical with plenty of faux foliage. But each with blankets, a portable heater, and a fire extinguisher. Each dome does get warm with the enclosure sealed, and the 6 person body heat moving about and drinking. The quarters are quite close, so I highly recommend arranging a dinner with people you actually want to be sealed off in a dome with.

As for which dome you get, it doesn’t really matter in my opinion. From where they were set up you don’t get much of a view: beach, parking lot, or otherwise. It was too dark to enjoy anything, and you are caught up in conversation with your table mates sitting across from you anyways.

Your meal begins with a welcome introduction from your server, who confirms your order and brings your drinks at cost, or water in still or sparkling. The food then comes out fairly quick. Smaller plates balanced on the arms of a couple of staff members. Larger servings wheeled out in a caddy, much like aboard a plane being severed by a stewardess.

The entire menu is inspired by Chef Paul Moran’s home town of Tofino, BC. A very vegetable-forward menu, utilizing his favourite ingredients, with several being hand foraged by our chef himself. Served alongside produce and products that are currently in season, this winter. He promises a meal that speaks directly to Vancouver and Canadian cuisine. Overall, I liked everything just fine for a farm to table feast, but it lacked the richness of a luxe experience in the cold winter weather. The menu felt string forward, if not summer ready. I expected stews instead of salads, red meat instead of lean protein, and a chocolatey rich dessert to close on, instead of fresh fruit. My review is written with that perspective, and consider what is before me, as is.

We began with a lovely fermented sourdough bread, served with a Tofino seaweed butter. As a fan of the tangy-sour fresh bread, I liked this take, especially with the unique sea salted flavour of the butter.

Our appetizer was a dairy-free, vegan salad, that played on beef tartar. A beet root salad with gala apples, crispy sun chokes, winter greens, and salsa verde. It was a lovely start, with plenty of fresh vegetables. Great as a palette refresher, better as a side. But as an appetizer this was too much of the same thing, on one plate.

The entree is based on what you preselected when you purchased your tickets. Vegetarians got a crispy ginger and soy tofu dish with all the same sides as the two dishes below. Rice and greens in a garlic and sesame sauce, with morel mushrooms on the side. The following are the meat and fish options.

For “meat” you get a crispy Fraser Valley boneless chicken breast, brined over night for more flavour. Served with a smokey and sweet mustard with tarragon, yellow German fingerling potatoes, heirloom carrots, celery root, morel mushroom, and a sabayon sauce (typically an Italian dessert made from eggyolk, white wine, and sugar). The mushrooms are foraged by Chef Moran, and his foraging company. These were my favourite part of this dish. All the chicken breasts were not prepared equally. I found mine especially dry, and that of my diner mate’s were more moist. Overall, it tasted exactly as it looked, and how it reads. Simple and clean, where as I was looking for some complexity, and some more starch to have along with the meat and vegetables.

Instead, I highly recommend the miso and maple marinated black cod. Served on a bed of black forbidden rice with pickled heirloom radish, a sesame and yuzu emulsion, and asian greens (boy choy) in a garlic sauce; all topped with sesame seeds. Here, we got a lesson on the rice: it being rich in antioxidants, and originally only for the emperor of China’s consumption, hence the name. The miso sauce is strong, but necessary to flavour the rest of the dish. The fish was cooked beautifully with a nice golden brown crust, it had the artistry and refined feel that I wanted from the chicken above. It certainly matched my expectations of the experience, and the pedigree I expect from a “Top Chef” winner.

Dessert was more simple, a tropical and light fruit dish that I would expect on an outdoor summer menu. A Madagascar vanilla and lime marinated pineapple with in-house made coconut mousse and crumble; dusted with blackberry and mint to finish. It was gluten-free and dairy-free; and curated to help you leave the table with a clean palette, and the ability to “do some dancin’ after”. Sweet pineapple, airy coconut foam, and toasted crumbs for crunch. It tasted good and was as intended, but I just wanted something more decadent to end on.

Luckily, we had one more surprise to come. A cocoa powder dusted, house made truffle. Bitter dark chocolate with bite.

Worth noting is that I had a similar contrasting experience between the dinner service and the washrooms. Located at the park, the facilities were the public ones available to the everyone. There aren’t many alternative options here, but it certainly took you out of your element fast. Although I still prefer this to any Porto-potty.

In conclusion, I definitely recommend the experience, I have yet to dine in a setting quite like this. A great date night solution and upcoming Valentine’s Day destination, with the option to rent out an entire dome for two. Where dinner is equipped with a menu that caters to dietary restrictions, with lots of seafood and veggies. For more on this limited release event and how you can still get tickets, visit the link below.

DINNER WITH A VIEW
https://www.dinnerwithaview.ca/en/vancouver

Page 1 of 31

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén