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Category: exhibitions Page 1 of 4

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

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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/

What to eat at Aurora Winter Festival 2019

It has been a month since my original visit to the Aurora winter festival, now at its new home on the fair grounds of PNE/Playland. And since then, there has been several new food trucks that have parked themselves by the erected tents of their outdoor food pavilion. So today I was bearing the sprinkling rain to check out what is new and worth trying, with a focus on exclusive items you can only get at Aurora.

To skip the reading, check out my latest taste test vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

In the order of what we tried, we started our tour at the “Cannoli King”, a PNE staple with their commissary located nearby. Pipping crispy chips on the spot, they are serving up a few of their most popular flavours, and a trio of seasonal offerings.

The “cranberry, orange, and pecan” cannoli was fragrant and sweet. Tangy and refreshing, easy to finish from first bite to last. I can see this being the most widely well-received.

The gingerbread was a lot more heavier, but not overwhelmingly so. A lighter hint of gingerbread for those who are not fan of the zestier, more memorable spices used in this classic.

I am a fan of egg nog, so was happy to have this rendition taste exactly as I expected it to. Given how creamy the filling is, I was surprised by how it all stayed within the airy shell. An easy to eat treat, if you take it all in one bite, although it does get messy otherwise.

Next, we visited the food truck of one of the most popular doughnut shops in Vancouver. They have brought all their best selling cake doughnuts to Aurora, including their vegan and gluten-free options. Apple fritter, earl grey, vanilla bean, and double chocolate.

And with them they have two Aurora exclusives. The “haskap berry shortbread” doughnut and the “dulce honeycomb”. “Haskap” is a tart and juicy berry only available in BC, it is most commonly known as Japanese honeysuckle, here it was sweetened, and reminded me of a raspberry/blueberry combo. The shortbread in the name comes from the crushed cookie dust sprinkled over the glaze. Good, but I would have liked more shortbread in the actual doughnut ring. Although/otherwise, this was a lovely doughnut to pair with tea.

But between the two, the “Dulce Honeycomb” was my favourite. Visually it was stunning, fully loaded with plenty of crispy and airy honeycomb pieces to crunch through. The doughnut and glaze were the perfect base; not too sweet to overwhelm, just great doughy breading to balance out the sweetness.

We then moved on to a some hot beverages to help keep us warm, gravitating to the “Drink Coffee” sign of “Green Coast Coffee”. Here, they are proud that their teas, coffee, and holiday beverages all made with natural ingredients.

More than just black coffee they have a “cookie butter latte” and “winter spiced fog”. And for hot chocolates they have stepped it up a notch with the likes of a macadamia nut hot chocolate and a hazelnut dark chocolate. The former made with fresh macadamia nut mylk and white chocolate. The latter is fresh hazelnut mylk and dark chocolate. Each, dessert in a glass, with the nut mylk made right on their cart. Rich and chocolatey they warmed you as you drank.

For something a little lighter, and a bit more seasonal, I highly suggest their scratch made apple cider, featuring a blend of five different apples. A full bodied, warm apple juice, flavoured with a healthy dusting of cinnamon.

For something more substantial look to “Reel Mac & Cheese”, another PNE staple representing for the winter season. They are known of gooey cheddar cheese macaroni, topped with a variety of ingredients; with each combination given a name after a movie, celebrity, or pop culture reference. The “Godzilla” came with Japanese mayo and seaweed, “Snoop Dogg” has hot dogs slices and a panko Parmesan crunch; and “Kevin Bacon” naturally had bacon, and lots of it.

But today it was all about their Aurora feature, named with a Christmas twist. These are sample sizes, so rest assured you will get more in your full order. The “Grinch” was their classic gourmet cheese macaroni topped with crunchy broccoli florets and crispy onion. The vegetables were a healthy twist. Good, but not all that much different from a regular Mac and cheese in flavour.

I preferred the “Bad Santa”. The same mac and cheese base as above, but now topped with cubes of glazed ham and pineapple. If you like Hawaiian pizza, you would like this. Salty and sweet, I wouldn’t mind a scoop of marinara sauce to have it come around full circle.

And I was excited to finally try the “Shameless Buns”, the popular Filipino-inspired food truck built from an actual jeepney. I have been hearing much about them, so was exited to get into their menu and try some of their buns, but will have to come back another day to do so. They have their entire regular menu available here, including their popular spam fries and various adobos. As well as an entire, secondary Christmas menu, only available during their time at Aurora. Sausage, lumpia, and French toast with pandan and condense milk.

But today we only got a taste of their “Adobo fries”, a popular, regular menu item. Long and thin fries topped with braised chicken adobo, adobo gravy, garlic calamansi aioli, garlic chips, tomato, and green onion. It reminded me of nachos with the diced tomato, but with pulled chicken. It didn’t have the richness I expected from an adobo. And it was hard to eat with all the chopped up ingredients, and no vehicle to scoop them up with. I wanted more sauce. Luckily they had their banana ketchup at the ready. Made with real tropical bananas, it had the tang of ketchup and a unique sweetness. Different and interesting, nothing like I have had before. It was what made the fries memorable for me.

Looking for a more savoury meals? “Meat & Bread”, another popular Vancouver cafe has also moved in to Aurora. Their black truck with their origami-esque logo is eye catching, their brand easily recognizable. Here, their most popular sandwich options are named after its main protein. Porchetta, ham hock, and their “vego” vegetarian option is available.

But the one to get, and the one that is exclusive to their time at Aurora is the “Hot Turkey”. Like dinner between crusty bread. This was shredded turkey meat, a brown butter yam purée, their homemade cranberry spread; and a “winter slaw” with purple cabbage, carrot, red and green peppers, and kale. Be warned, this gets messy, with jus running down your hands. Delicious and filling. But for my personal tastes, I would have liked it more salty, maybe even with a side of gravy to dip into.

And last but not least, we finished our food tour with another Christmas market staple: the chimney cake. Specifically the ones from “The Praguery” who roll, bake, spread, and sprinkle each on location. Covered in cinnamon, coconut, or crushed almond; you can choose your topping and what filling you want smeared within, if any. Nutella or lemon available for extra.

The combination of the shredded coconut and lemon was both refreshing and tropical. The lemon filling was especially strong, like what you would get in a lemon meringue pie, but without the sweetness of the meringue to balance out the tartness. I also didn’t like the texture of the jagged, dried coconut contrasting the chewy dough. I prefer the chimney cake as is: warm dough baked golden brown.

Although, I couldn’t say no to getting the Aurora exclusive version. Their cinnamon and sugar coated chimney cake, dipped topped first into melted white chocolate and made more festive with a generous dusting of red and green sprinkles. Thankfully you only get a quarter of it in chocolate, as it was fairly sweet for my tastes.

There are many more food trucks to explore at Aurora, these were just the handful that had exclusive menu items worth bringing your attention too. I highly suggest making a night of it. Coming early for dinner, followed by enjoying the glowing lights as the sun sets early, then looping back for a drink to warm up to, or a sweet treat to go.

I didn’t spend too much time exploring the grounds, but did notice a few changes advertised on their social media page like face painting and new vendors to shop with. And today, their popular rainbow light tunnel was transformed into a different interactive experience. Now in shades of blue with a smoke machine, the lights dance and strobe to the beat of the music playing overhead. But still just as much of a photo op. So for those who have already visited once, they are keeping it fresh with new reasons to stop by again. And keep in mind, they are only around for two more weeks, shuttering down for the season on January 5th, 2020.

For what else you can expect from this winter wonderland extravaganza, checkout my recap of all the performances and photos ops during my first time around.

Aurora Winter Festival at the PNE

AURORA
2901 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V5K 5J1
(604) 253-2311

Aurora Winter Festival

Cats & Dogs Exhibit and Apollo 11: First Steps In IMAX, at Science World

Starting from September 22nd to January 5th Science World is giving you a real life look at the secret lives of pets, though you cats and dogs. Their newest exhibition: “Cats & Dogs” is the first, large-scale exhibition dedicated to these animals. It reviews everything we know scientifically, sociologically and culturally about both canines and felines, and makes it palate-able and easy to digest for even the littlest of learners.

 

As taken from the press release, “The science of animal behaviour has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years, overturning a number of preconceived ideas about cats and dogs regarding how they demonstrate their skills, awareness and intelligence every day.” This interactive exhibit gives you a look into their psyche, while getting you moving. You can test your agility against dogs with a jumping and running/dodging challenge. Or learn how to better identify either species with a “guess who” style game. And you can even quiz one another on your learned animal trivia with a board game. You will also “learn about peculiar and distinct traits found in a huge variety of dog breeds from the tiniest Chihuahuas to the tallest Great Danes, and cats ranging from the lush, furry Persians to the sleek, hairless Sphynx”.

Fun for the whole family and a topic that is relatable to so many of us who either own a cat or a dog.

And starting November 23rd, visitors to Science World can also take in their newest IMAX experience: “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition”. This is special giant-screen version of the critically acclaimed, theatrical documentary Apollo 11, but is not the full-length feature.

It recalls the first moon landing by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin through first person accounts from the astronauts, as well as all the men and women stationed at NASA. Engineers, scientists, and mechanics working tirelessly for the success of the mission, and the safe return of their spacemen. The IMAX film contains never before seen, actual footage of the space mission, that saw Americans being the first men on the moon. The very one where they declared so memorably, “this is one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind”.

The documentary’s giant screen release is well timed to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of NASA’s first lunar landing, and features the newly discovered 70mm footage and audio recordings from NASA and the National Archives. It allows audiences to experience one of humanity’s greatest achievements, over 50 years ago, in a more intimate and revealing way.

Having not read up on or watched much of NASA’s historic lunar landing, this offered me the best way to get all caught up. And in my eyes, it also was helpful in debunking the conspiracy that all the above was just a hoax.

For more on either of this season’s newest attractions, visit Science World’s website for ticket sales and additional details. https://www.scienceworld.ca/

Aurora Winter Festival at the PNE

From now to January 5th, 2020 “Aurora”, the winter festival is back for its second year in Vancouver. Although this time they are bigger and better with a brand new location at PNE’s fair grounds. The increase in square foot means additional room for more light displays, event spacing, food stalls, and marketplace vendors.

My trick with these sort of activities is to come early, blitz through everything, take all your people-free photo, then go through it all again after, to better take things in, the second time around. I also suggest bringing a friend to help you take those completely necessary photos with your favourite light feature. The following is what you can expect, but naturally there is nothing like exploring it in person.

With so much to see and do, I highly suggest locating the posted event map, and taking a photo of it to reference later. You definitely don’t want to miss any of it, each corner is a difference feature.

The most iconic of them is actually the gateway into “Aurora”, a giant glacial iceberg that you walk under.

And a short distance away was their giant Christmas tree, that you too can walk under.

To your right is the souvenir shop. I highly recommend stopping by here first before venturing any further, they have a great selection of accessories that light up. These make fun props and unique souvenirs to mark your time at “Aurora”. LED swords, wands, and thunder sticks. And to keep you dry and warm (as most of this is outdoors), they have umbrellas, toques and gloves for sale. I grabbed the latter, which too was lit with LEDs. Each finger tip got a dedicated bulb and with a push of a button you could switch it between colours and strobing or flashing patterns.

To your left is their carnival section with all ages rides like a miniature coaster, spinning strawberries, and the Ferris wheel crowning it all. Here, you can also play games to win prizes.

The rest of the property is for your to explore, to wherever your eyes take you next. If you are looking to capture a glimpse of Santa, be sure to check the times listed at the entrance of his inflated snow dome. He arrives and tells the kids a story with the help of his elf.

There is also a dome for puzzles and colouring, a quite space to take a seat with your young family. For something a bit more active little hands can turn to a winter wonderland take on tic tac toe and checkers, and a black lit neon ring toss using the antlers of wooden reindeers.

Nearby you can test your dexterity with a sling shot game. Aiming and tossing plastic balls towards inflated snowmen.

There is a candy cane lane with giant lollipops, macrons that you can sit on, and human-sized cupcakes. The sugary path of pink leads you to a giant gingerbread house at the end.

All the staff are dressed like elven folk bundled up warm in cloaks, outfitted with pointed ears. They guide the way and help you take photos, should you ask. They also have a rotation of characters ready for photo ops. Like the friendly yeti and the beautiful snow queen. When she is not in, you can test out her throne in her ice castle.

Walk along wooded paths discovering moments created in LEDs. Floral life and wild life brightening up the night.

The feature that will capture everyone’s attention is the tunnel of lights, a colour changing techno-coloured experience in rainbow.

There is also a yellow glowing tunnel with giant beers and the reindeers towing Santa’s sleigh around it.

By the gnome village is a talking tree. You can take a seat as he recalls the “Night Before Christmas”.

You can take a wild ride on their giant slide. Which comes with a bird’s eye view of the event.

Or rent some skates and take a spin around their rink. For those who are less confident on blades, you can loan one of their plastic animals with handles, to better support yourself.

And if get hungry there are a handful of food trucks to choose from. Order poutine, sandwiches, perogies, or stir fry; and enjoy it in their communal covered area.

But if you are looking for somewhere warmer to eat dinner at, check out the drinking hall with plenty of benches, and the occasional live band performing holiday tunes on stage.

And there are plenty of vendors offering hot beverage and/or spiked drinks. Mulled wine and hot chocolate are great ways to keep warm. We indulged in their feature “disco” cocktail, served in a blinking blue globe, this blue punch is available with or without alcohol. Best enjoyed on their light up dance floor.

If you are looking to check a few names off your Christmas shopping list? “Aurora” also had a market place with local, artisan, goods for sale.

Given how much time you can spend wandering the park and revisiting your favourite moments, you can come back a visit multiple times before the end of the season. “Aurora Winter Festival” runs from November 22nd to January 5th. For tickets and hours of operation visit their website using the link below.

Aurora Winter Festival

Culinary Stage: Tyax Land and Sea, Cornucopia 2019

This weekend we were at our very first “Cornucopia”, Whistler’s fall food and drink festival, which includes a variety of events to partake in. In order to get the most out of our experience we signed up for a little of everything, like a live cooking class where you get to eat the fruits of your chef/instructor’s labour. This is that recap.

Attendees were gathered at the grand foyer of the Whistler’s Conference Centre. You choose yours seat between several tables clustered around the “Sub Zero & Wolf Culinary Stage”. It was a formal sit down event, which included the visibility of two televised screens. They were helpful in allowing you to follow along with this instructional tasting.

Our instructor was Daniel Crane, Executive Chef at “Tyax Lodge”, and this would be his first foray in teaching on a public stage, in front of a live audience. In order to see him in action, check out my latest drinking vlog, where I recapped this, and a few of the other events I participated in.

 

Chef Daniel used the following 3 courses to highlight his background. He prides himself on working with farmers, sourcing his ingredients from them as much as possible. And this was well reflected in the meal to come, 3 courses inspired by flavours from the land and sea.

As a workshop, it was great to be able to take in his tips and trips. And/or sit back and simply watch things unfold like a cooking show; with the added pleasure of eating it after. I personally really enjoy seeing how my food is put together, to be able to appreciate the workmanship of each dish so much more.

And as he prepared our multi-course meal, we would enjoy wine from “Fort Berens Estate Winery” in Lillooet, BC. Their handcrafted wines reflect the unique qualities of Lillooet’s terroir; and has won them several regional, national, and international awards. The winery is located two hours north, over the coast mountains. This is a small valley, the same size of Burgundy, France. There, it is very dry and arid, with very little snow and rain. The land’s pour soil is great for grapes, the energy to grow them all goes to the fruit and not its leaves.

Our first “Fort Berens” wine was their 2018 Chardonnay, a wine that won in the category of top white at “Cornucopia 2019”

Our second glass was their 2016 Pinot noir made from five different types of grapes, clones of varietals originating from France to California. The result, an deep red with earthy layers and the fruity notes of raspberry.

The last glass was the “Fort Berens’ Late Harvest Muscat”. A sweet wine, that paralleled our dessert to come. Made with a late harvest grape it has exotic notes of ginger, lemon grass, and apricot. A nice cool wine with light acidic tones.

As for the food that went with each, the following will be a notable recap of the demonstration, followed by my honest review of the food. I will not be offering step by step instructions on how to replicate each dish, instead, you will have to attend next year’s “Cornucopia” yourself.

Our first course was an “Albacore Tuna Tataki”. Seared rare tuna served with a cherry tomato ratatouille, warm olives and caper berries. Seasoned with chilli, olive oil, a parmesan crisp, and saffron aioli.

We learned that you start by making sure the pan is nice and hot, so that the albacore tuna cooks up with a lovely crust. You also want to lay the fish away from you, to avoid the oil from splashing on to you. You then season your tuna with olive oil paprika, salt and pepper. Your don’t want to sear it for too long, though do want to get all four sides, and allow the fish to sit.

Next you prepare the ratatouille which involves adding together your vegetables and finishing it with parsley and salt.

For your aioli you blend your mayonnaise in a blender at a lower setting. You then slowly add in oil and turn up the speed: “really high, really quick, and then kill it”. If you blend it too slowly it comes out too thin. You know you have done it right when your finished product is a nice yellow colour.

We then got an inside look at the intricacies of plating. Slicing the tuna thin, dotting your plate with mayonnaise, lining your ratatouille on the side, and finishing the plate off with some deep fried rice paper for added crispiness.

The result, a tasty and light start. Fresh and tangy with tomato, and familiar with the tuna and creamy mayo combination. The white wine’s citrus notes really complimented the seafood here.

The second course was “Pan Seared Brome Lake Duck”, served with a parmesan and sage gnocchi, cherry jus, and quark cheese mousse.

Chef Daniel first began with the gnocchi. He and his team had already pre-boiled the potatoes needed for 35 minutes, just so that they are soft enough to pierce with knife. Once they are peeled, they are pressed down to small bits using a potato ricer, (A new and soothing sight for me). The collection of potato granules are the mixed together with one egg, and one and a half cups of flour, then repeatedly folded in to build gluten. The dough is then rolled into a line a cut down to small pieces. It is then ready to be boiled in water for 1-2 minutes. When they start to float, you remove then from the water. And once they cool down you can sauté it with the asparagus.

Making the chutney involved sautéing chopped red onion, gooseberries, a little bit of sugar, and red wine vinegar. Then letting it cook down with all its liquids cooked off.

The duck breast was prepared in a sous vide bag, seasoned with salt and pepper. It is then seared and plated with its demi glaze and cherries, alongside the chutney and gnocchi.

The meaty piece of duck was perfection, with all its sides balancing out the plate. Fresh and crispy asparagus, sweet and sour chutney, and a rich caramelization from the cooked cherries.

Our third and final course was a “Berries and Cream” dessert, made with fresh berries, a coconut foam, cardamom crumble, and chamomile syrup.

First came the making of the granola based crumble featuring pumpkin seeds, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cardamon. To it Chef Daniel added in a good amount honey, and a little bit of sugar with canola oil. The goal is for it to be sticky before popping it in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The berry compote was mix of blackberry, cherry, and strawberries. More sugar is added to make it a proper dessert. It is finished with lemon juice, and cook down at a low heat for 20 minutes. And lastly a splash of vanilla extract goes into the mix, after the temperature is turned off.

In order to get the camomile syrup, you start by steeping tea bags into water and cooking it.

And for the meringue you remove yolk from egg whites. And the whites get whipped in a blender so they won’t fluff up. More sugar is added again, as well as cream of tartar, to help keep things nice and stiff; so that your meringue does not flop out in the oven. It is baked in the oven at 200 degrees, until it is nice and crispy.

The coconut foam uses a higher fat concentration of coconut milk, mixed with icing sugar. It is piped on to the plate using a foam gun.

Surprisingly the dessert wasn’t too sweet, I found our dessert wine sweeter. The cardomon notes gave the plate a fall feel, the camomile a nice floral essence, and the juicy berries offered a nice contrast to the crispy and chewy meringue curl it was scooped out over.

In conclusion, a great event and a fun way to add a little flare to dinner. I learned a few kitchen tricks and was fully entertained throughout the entire meal. And I honestly think it all tasted better because I witnessed its journey to completion, and respected the time and effort that it took to get it on my plate. For all the food enthusiasts, I highly recommend looking into attending another such class next year. Start planning now by visit the link below. https://whistlercornucopia.com/

Lumière 2019

Lumière Vancouver returns for its 6th year. This is the festival that sets “the city’s downtown and West End neighbourhoods aglow in spectacular fashion. The annual event that is inspired by light and artistic expression, with over 25 interactive art installations at four different sites: English Bay, Jim Deva Plaza, Lot 19, and šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (formerly known as the North Plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery)”. (As taken from the press release).

The origins of this one of a kind light show came from the desire to breathe life into November. Between Halloween and Christmas this month sees slower visitor traffic and an increase in cold and rainy weather. So in order to combat this trend and bring life to downtown Vancouver’s prominent areas, Lumière is lighting up the night.

From November 1st to the 3rd you can expect live performers, great music, and interactive displays. But for those who can’t make it out between 6-10pm, you can still take in several of light displays until February of 2020.

The following are some of what you can expect from each site. Each completely different, so I suggest taking the time to visiting each one. But for a more telling view and engaging experience, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

We started at English Bay where the art work will remain until February. Here, the light installations are all animal themed, with a goal to bring awareness to the conservation of these endangered species.

“Luna” by MK Illumination is returning for her 5th year. The iconic whale was made specifically for “Lumière” in recognition of the whales in the waters around Vancouver.

Joining her is a heron in its twinkling nest. “Stanley” by MK Illumination is named after Stanley Park, which is home to one of the largest urban great blue heron colonies in North America.

“Davie” by MK Illumination is a 24 foot tall grizzly bear. He pays homage to BC’s wilderness, in hopes of shining a light on the story of BC’s grizzlies.

“Eugenia” by MK Illumination represents the iconic oak tree that has decorated the English Bay skyline for three decades. A colour changing tree, set to the beautiful English Bay backdrop and setting sun. The original currently sits on top of the famous Beach Avenue residency, Eugenia Place.

I especially thought the daddy long legs spider was creative. An eight legged creature that offered warmth and a place to sit with real flames and faux webbing. And this weekend “Ember Art Fire Performances will be putting on one “hot” show at 6, 7, and 8pm.

Next, we took a Vancouver trolley to our second stop. And if and when you visit, so can you. They have transportation services all throughout the weekend from 5-10pm. Free shuttles looping between the 4 locations, running in 15-20 minute intervals.

“Jim Deva Plaza” on Davie Street will have live DJ’s, drag performances, visual art displays, and a beer garden from 3-10pm November 2nd and 3rd.

As for the art installations, “Tetra Velo” by Hfour is a pyramid of lights that flash and strobe. It uses public data to generate and create colour patterns.

“Chromatic Shadows” by Willie Ng consists of 6 lamps facing a white backdrop. Here, your shadow becomes a moving installation. The exhibit mimics the colourful distortions that occurs when a lens fails to focus all colours of light onto the same spot.

“Woven” by Tangible Interaction is a series of arches, interlocking into one. The playful light patterns hop from arch to arch as you walk beneath them.

The “Lumière Block Party” by Public Disco is a licensed 3-day block party at Davie Village. Guests gather under a 80ft tent with smoke machines, disco balls, and strobing lights. Here there is a cash bar and seats to enjoy your beverage at. Or you can take your drink to the dance floor; and be inspired by the live dancer and DJ on the projected stage.

“Visitor” by Tangible Interaction was commission by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for digiPlaySpace. Covered in hundreds of responsive LEDs and proximity sensors, you are able to interact with this cloud through a button and a joystick.

Next on our “Lumière” tour was “šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square”, at the “Vancouver Art Gallery”. Here, You can show your love for our city, by posing next to the giant “<3 VAN” sign.

“Neon at The Post” is presented by “QuadReal Property Group”. They have a partnership with the Museum of Vancouver to bring back to life some of the classic neon signs that lit up Vancouver in the middle of the last century. These 3 signs are available for viewing at Lumière, before permanently lighting up public spaces at “The Post” (the site of the former Canada Post building downtown).

“Alternity” by Wiz (Roy Tremmell) is a branching tree of lights that speaks to the future. It gets you to consider how everyday decisions determines your path through an infinity of possibilities.

“Segmentium” by Adrian Wilson and Dayna Scodras is a kinetic art installation whose speed and rotating direction are computer-controlled, and responsive to the ambient temperature. It it meant to represent a connection to the outside.

“Steely T” by Hippo Love Creative Art Society is a giant turtle with a shell that strobes lights and shoots flames. Riders are able to hop on and take in all the sights from an elevated perch.

“Orchidelirium” by Alysia Crissman is 3 steel orchids sprouting out from the concrete. You are able to customize the blooms by using the colour wheel touchpads, to change the colours reflected on their petals.

“Daisy” by eatART is the world’s largest solar-powered tricycle, used as the platform for Sam Carter and Emily Cheung to perform opera on. The carriage is the stage with room for a DJ booth.

Special Performances at this site includes the above mentioned opera nightly at 7pm, with rotating DJs at 8:30pm.

Then it was back on to the trolley and down to the last stop: “Lot 19”. Named after the parking lot that is located under this plaza.

Tonight, hula hoop artists and jugglers showcased their craft with LED lit equipment.

“Telefunkin’ Shadow Stage” by Alejandro Samper invites spectators to step behind their giant TV and have their silhouettes projected on the screen on the other side. You are encouraged to get wild and animated with your movements.

“The Beating Heart” by Ron Simmer is a 250lb., half-inch thick reinforced fiberglass polyester resin, anatomically correct heart. It represents the fragility of life, personal connection, and togetherness. You place your hand on a sensor and it will detect your heartbeat, reflecting it, amplify it, and projecting the rhythm of it through LEDs inside the heart sculpture.

“Key to My Heart” by Shadow Puppet Productions is built as two giant antique skeleton keys and a lock. It allows participants to change the lights within the lock, with their touch. You place you hand in the mold. A pulse sensor within detects your heartbeat, and the lighting of the infinity mirror lock will sync and flash to your pulse.

“Lux Memoriae” by Ari Lazer is a collection of large and medium scale geometric lanterns. Each lantern is designed to explore the harmonic form as it arises in nature or through the fundamental principles of space.

Once again majority of these exhibits will only be around for this weekend: November 1-3rd. So be sure to take in the experience and get excited for November and all the beautiful lights to come. For more information and specific performance times, visit their website with the link below.
https://www.lumiereyvr.com/

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 or 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

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