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

Category: pop-up

Saturday Morning, cereal popup

This Saturday morning I had the day off, so thought what better way to spend it then reliving my childhood with the “Saturday Morning” pop up. This is a monthly pop up that brings Vancouverites a fun place to have a light breakfast at. Organizers take over a shop space and theme it to your childhood bedroom. The date and location are in flux, so be sure to follow them on social media to stay in the loop.

This month’s locale was the eye glass shop, “Ollie Quinn” on Commercial Drive. “Saturday Morning’s” advertisement spoke to this, as their hand outs featured an eye chart and the looney toons gang showcasing their offer of $5 dressed up cereal bowls. The collaboration had people trying on readers and sunnies vowing to come back, to purchase their next pair of frames. Although the eye glasses shop wasn’t actually open for business or sales this 10:30-3:30pm, (the duration of the pop up).

If you didn’t get the memo for the event, you couldn’t miss it walking by. The music was bumping all the way to the sidewalk, and those passing by couldn’t help but feel themselves gravitating closer with its bouncy pull. The DJ was spinning Saturday morning cartoon jams like the themes from your favourite tv shows including “Recess”, “Doug”, and the “Goof Troop’ movie. There was also plenty of 90’s club bangers playing, like “Rhythm of the Night”, “What is love?”, and even that “Crazy Frog” song.

Looking through the window you also couldn’t help but have your curiosity peaked with their colourful toys and playful displays. In the main window was a collection of the bizzaro versions of your favourite “Kellogg’s” and “General Mills” cereal mascots. Cubby versions of Captain Crunch, Tony the Tiger, the leprechaun from “Lucky Charms”, the Tucan from “Fruit Loops” and there was even “Snap, Crackle, and Pop” merged into one three faced and three legged entity. Behind it a pop culture take on the Sailor Scouts. The pretty guardians were dressed in sports attire and branded gear by “Supreme”, “North Face”, and “Nike”.

The other window was rearranged into a play nook with fuzzy carpet, plush toys, and character pillows. “Carebears”, “Garfield”, “Scooby Doo”, “Mickey Mouse”, and even an original “Treasure Troll” (not the Justin Timberlake version). Here, they had a vintage television set up with a functioning “Nintendo” gaming system, allowing attendees the ability to try their hand a classic games like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Super Mario”.

At the very back of the space was their service counter. Here you ordered and paid for your bowl of cereal. Be warn this is a cash only affair.

I have been to cereal popup before, a different event run by a different team and where I left unsatisfied there, all my issues and suggestions were address and improved upon at this pop up. They offered up limited edition cereals and flavours you don’t normally see you at your grocery store shelves, so that in itself is a reason to visit. They also allow you to mix boxes of cereal, which would be the point in visiting a cereal bar. Who wants to keep it only one flavour when there are a shelf-full of boxes to choose from. And then they take everything to a new level by offering you the ability to top your cereal bowl like you would a sundae: various sauces and toppings to make it your own. Strawberries, banana, marshmallow, strawberry sauce, Nutella, and even cookie butter spread.

There was a menu of speciality crafted bowls. Each had a combination of cereals topped with fruit and/or ice cream syrups and sauces. The ones with international cereal offerings were highlighted by the USA and Japan flags. You make your choice and after it’s poured into disposable bowl you choose and pour your own milk into the mix. They had two non-dairy options like soy and almond milk available. Whereas they only offered 3.25% for your regular cow-milk option. I personally prefer a 2% or a skim if I am counting calories. Although the heavier 3.25% made things creamier and more befitting of my dessert-like cereal bowl.

If you don’t see something you like off their menu, or maybe prefer not to mix things up, you can choose your cereal from their shelf of boxes and custom make your own. They had a chocolate and a strawberry doughnut cereal, a cereal that tasted like birthday cake, one that was mini chocolate chip cookies, a limited edition “Frosted Flakes”; and even the popular spooky cereal trio “Frankenberry”, “Booberry”, and “Count Chocola” made an appearance. Not to mention, there were a handful of Japanese cereals worth trying, including one with a syrupy chocolate at a centre of a crispy wafer chocolate shell.

The following is a list of the bowls they offer, then the ones myself and our group ordered.

I went for the “Yogi bear”, as suggested by the cashier. She would pour a pre-blended mix of “Cinnamon Toast Crunch”, “Lucky Charms”, and “Cocoa Pebbles” together; then topped it with torched mini marshmallows and a chocolate “Nesquik” drizzle. You can’t go wrong with crispy cereal, that leaves you with sweetened milk at the end.

“Cookie Monster”. “Oreo O’s” and “Cookie Crisp” with crushed Oreos and a condensed milk drizzle.

“Sylvester the cat”. “Hershey cocoa nibs”, strawberry slices, and French vanilla whipped cream.

Tasmanian devil. Cap’n crunch, Reese’s puffs, coco puffs, banana slices, and a Nutella and coconut butter drizzle.

Rainbow brite. Fruity “Pebbles” and “Trix” with strawberry “Nesquik” syrup


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This was such a fun scene. I highly suggest following their social media to find out when the next one is and attending for yourself. There is nothing else like it being offered in the city, and this is what the city needs to inject some colour and liveliness. With “Saturday Mornings” we are one step closer to Vancouver getting its own full time cereal bar. Offering cereal bowls with milk by day, and sundaes and milkshake with ice cream and crushed up cereals by night. Don’t deny your cravings.



#PopUpPatio 2018, The Westin Grand Robson

Nothing epitomizes summer more than cool drinks on a sunny patio. And once again “The Westin Grand” on Robson Street has opened theirs up for Happy Hour. Every Thursday and Friday this summer, their poolside terrace is open to the public, and today we were here to celebrate the occasion with a mix and mingler.

The location gives you an elevated look at Vancouver’s central library and its square, with the round of BC Place in the distance. No water or mountain views, but a look at the cityscape from its centre. With cushioned seating and a glass fire place, the spot does gets comfy. I only wish you could actually sit by the pool that they advertise. You are technically adjacent to it, but you actually can’t be “by it”. Unfortunately its use is limited to those staying with the hotel. Patio goers can only enjoy it as background in their peripheral. Hotel guests are the ones who are able to lounge in the chairs, dip their feet into the waters of the chlorine pool and neighbouring hot tub. Sadly if we could too, I could see this “pop-up patio” being even more popular.

If you are looking to catch some sun and perhaps tan a little as you sip, I suggest coming right when they open at 3:30pm. By 5:30pm the sun’s ray were shielded by the neighbouring skyscrapers. The patio’s accessibility and happy hour run until 7:30pm, weather permitting.

As for drinks and eats, both are provided by their in hotel Resto-Lounge: “Hendricks”. The “Hendrick’s” chefs and bartenders work offsite behind the patio’s bar and grill. Mixing cocktails, pouring beers, and serving wine. We would enjoy the latter by the plastic glass-full.

I didn’t get a true picture of the food as there were self serve platters to nibble at, and a couple of servers rotating small bites around the terrace. Majority of it was pre-made and passable at room temperature; and the stuff that was intended warm was cold, by the time we got it. Therefore, I suggest visiting for yourself, for a more accurate portrayal. Or better yet, check out my review of Hendricks.

Hendricks Resto-Lounge


Crispy chicken sliders. The chicken was good, but the bun was dry by the time I got my hands on one. I could have also used some more sauce for flavour and some spice for kick.

The flavour of the beef skewers were good, but the meat itself was tough. I had to jerk my head back in order to pry meat from stick.

The deep fried mac and cheese balls were delicious, easy to pop in to your mouth with a tangy tomato paste.

The samosas were also a nice finger snack, with their flaky crispy skin and well seasoned vegetable filling.

The pork belly was also easy to go back for more of. Equal parts meat and fat in a sweet and salty brown sauce with pickled vegetables. I just wanted more substantially, over a bowl of rice.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
My first visit to the patio was 2 years ago, and it was a negative one. It was their first year open and it felt like they were still toying with the concept. It existed outside of “Hendricks” and I felt like the setting didn’t live up to their advertisements and my image of them, specifically the accessibility to the pool. This year they made sure to stress that the patio is not pool side, but pool adjacent. And they invested more into the furniture, making it feel like a more fulsome lounge space, with the ability to stand on its own. The service was lacking then and the food was okay, making it nothing noteworthy. But this year with a festive launch party, lively DJ, and a extensive spread; they are certainly pulling out all stops to help make their #popuppatio a more memorable destination to not deny your cravings on.

To read my original review visit the link below.

#PopUpPatio at the Westin Grand, Robson


433 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 6L9


Hey, Dumplings! pop up

I love a good pop-up. The urgency to visit them during their limited time release makes them all the more appealing. And this one is worth checking out more than once. The first time to see what it’s all about, then again to have some more. It is pretty much a guarantee that just one taste of their Russian style dumplings is not enough. Not to mention, they are also the only ones in the city offering something so special.

It is a little cube of a shop located in Chinatown, the perfect home for a small business. In such an intimate setting you can’t help but strike up a conversation with the staff within. In this case, the owner and lone operator, and her one woman show. She not only preps the dumpling mix, but folds and boils each round, dressing them as you wish, while requesting your money to pay for them.

Having just visited Russia, one of my guest inquired about our dumpling maker’s ethnicity and why Russian style dumplings? This was especially interesting as she is Canadian-born in Saskatchewan, with no Russian relatives. Though her reason was as good as any: she just likes Russian dumplings.

She was more than happy to give us a quick dumpling moulding tutorial behind her small work bench, and I was more than trilled to be able to capture her nibble fingers work in media.

To watch the magic happen for yourself, visit the link to my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

As for the actual locale, there are three tables and a bench, and not much room to linger around them. Behind the limited foyer is the “kitchen” and its counter where the dumplings are prepared ahead of time and boiled to order. Luckily we came at a time where we pretty much had the place to ourselves, so seating with a stroller wasn’t an issue. Although seeing as they are served in takeout boxes with forks, these one bite wonders are easy enough for you to have your meal on the go.

She also offers her dumplings frozen in bulk for you to take home and prepare, as many as you need, at any given time. I might have to grab a bag for myself and freeze them for future eating, when she closes down after her pop-up stint. “Hey, Dumplings!” is expected to stay stationary, in this location until the end of summer.

The menu is a chalk board list of four options, to your right, right as you enter. On it a choice between meat or potato filled dumplings for savoury and berry filled for sweet.

If you are looking for something in a dessert dumping, your only choice are ones that are blueberry filled. Each pocket holds a whole berry with plenty of its runny juices as a thickened syrup surrounding it. I suspect the filling does change depending on what is on sale and in season, as the menu lists this as “12 berry pelmeni + ice cream”. The 12 refers to how many you get, and “pelmeni” the Russian word for dumpling. It is served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which quickly melts from the heat of the 12 freshly boiled dumplings. It makes a fine dipping cream, for this great dessert.

For the savoury dumplings you can have either have them with a meat or potato filling, or a little bit of both. Each tray comes with 18 pelmeni (dumplings) for $10 flat.

We went for a mix and had it dressed as a “poutine”. Your other sauce choices include a “spicy” one with scallions and sriracha, or “pesto” made with sunflower arugula. The latter sounded interesting, but you can’t go wrong with vegetable gravy and cheese curds.

They were served steaming hot, the only conclusion when they are boiled to order. Once cooled we were eager to dig in. A long wait giving our salivation in just looking at them, and more so over smelling them as we blew over each (from fear of singeing our tongues.) You can taste how fresh the dough was. It has a great chew-back texture, springy and thick. Inside it didn’t matter which filling you got, both were amazing in their own way. The meat gave you more of a breakfast sausage vibe with heavy seasonings. And the potato a herbaceous creaminess with spicy pepper.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Hopefully I sold you on this pop-up, because it really shouldn’t be missed. The food is delicious and the owner is a delight. No complaints when supporting deserving small businesses and anything local. Don’t deny your cravings.


(From March 4 until the end of summer 2017)
721 Gore Avenue, Vancouver BC
Hey, Dumplings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

“The Cabin” pop-up at Four Seasons Whistler


Last year my partner and I started the tradition of going to Whistler on Christmas Day. His family is on the other side of the country and mine doesn’t really celebrate the season. So going out of the city to where there is an abundance of snow and twinkling lights has been a nice little treat for us, something to look forward to on this day of rest. Besides there isn’t much else to do when most of the city is closed on December 25th.

This year I was happy to learn that there would be a pop up lounge running during our visit. A collaboration brought to the ski slopes by the Four Seasons Hotel in Whistler and the Hudson’s Bay Company, the oldest Canadian institution. They opened their doors late December and will remain open until January 2, 2017, with the night of new year eve off. Their goal, to bring a very Canadian experience to all those who visit.


You roll up to the hotel and it’s valet parking only. A nice perk without a fee, outside tipping. The valet hands you a ticket and you head straight into the hotel’s lobby. “The Cabin” is an event room refurbished on their lower level. A trip down a flight of stairs, past their in house art gallery, dining hall, and kids play area yields your destination.


The theme begins right as you enter the narrow annex. The staff usher you in, adorned in a Hudson’s Bay striped apron. The iconic pattern tied around their waists. A section of white between blue, green, red, and yellow. The same colouring patterned the backdrop of paintings, found its way across throw pillows, was printed on the coats of the plastic couple walking in a snow globe, and was even loosely represented in the carpet underfoot.


It all matched the cultivated Canadiana tone and theme, and helped to live up to the “cabin” name and hype. There were ten different tables to sit around, including couches against the windows, high top tables by the front and the bar at the back, and tables with their own inset alcove. Many accommodated larger groups with plenty of space in between each seating area to unload temporarily discarded ski gear.


There is also outdoor seating situated around roaring fire pits, for those wanting a break from skiing and snowboarding, without the need to disrobe all their gear. Our claimed sofa seat by the window gave us a clear view of this scene, including all the snow covered pine trees that surrounded it.

The rest of the room was decorated with wood, metal, and fur. A rectangular trunk lamp post, a series of chopped branches brought together to form square stools, varnish wood picnic benches, metal antler candle holders on coffee tables, cast iron lamps illuminating the bar, and furry pillows with matching throws resting on the sofas.


Overlooking the scene was some painted Canadiana. Wild life art set to the back drop of the HBC stripes. Portraits of bears and moose, indigenous people ice fishing and travelling by canoe. And my favourite, a Tim Horton’s cup, framed with broken hockey stick pieces.

My partner found our presence at this food and drink, pop-up, après-ski lounge out of place. We weren’t skiing before, and we didn’t even ski. He found we, without our snow pants or puffy jackets (like the other guests) didn’t belong. But based on our bill, I would beg to differ. We earned the right with our payment, a point I had to push, when he felt guilted to finish up quick, but more on that later.


I found the staff most helpful. They gave us the treatment you would expect from a restaurant running out of a five star hotel. Our server knew her menu and was able to walk me through it, although she did not make the ordering process any easier, she liked everything. Of note, the menu was bilingual, just like Canada. Printed in both English and French.


I ordered the “Hot buttered rum” to warm up with. Mount gay xo, spiced buttered rum, boiling water, and nutmeg. It is finished with a cinnamon stir stick and served in a warming HBC striped mug; for $12. Originally I was disappointed to see the mug only half full, but after a sip I could see why the serving was portioned out like this. It is a spiked beverage so thick and so rich that it is like drinking caramelized butter. It even smelled like butter, and left you with that oily slick that wraps your lips after having it. A drink so rich that you can only sip it, and can’t really take in much more than a little every 30 seconds. I found the drink best enjoyed alone than with the food that was to come. Definitely one to try and one I would indulge in again, by any warming fire.


My less adventurous partner went for a local beer by “Whistler Brewing Company”, the “coastal common lager”. He was sold on it when the server described it as the lightest of all their beers. It was a good beer, but the serving fee for this larger bottle was still steep at $13.


I was tempted by the “Shaved jamon iberico”, seeing its unique set up by the lounge entrance. This was 30g of Spanish ham, cured for 18 months, and carved right from the leg of the pig. A spectacle you get to enjoy if you grab a front row seat at the unobstructed station. Where a chef with her blade, slices fatty cuts of bold red pork. But at $28 for a tasting portion I was hesitant to commitment. However our Spanish server sold us on its rarity and the fact that it is something special from Spain that you don’t often find in BC.


It was tasty, a nice buttery finish to compliment the dry herbaceous focaccia side it came with. The pickled vegetables offered a nice tangy break, however I would get more than enough of it from this and its appearance on our second plate.


Beside the leg of ham was a large round of parmigiano reggiano cheese. It was sourced from BC, and like the ham, carved to order, also at $28. However fun it would have been to see this portion plated, I passed on it for melted cheese instead.


I assumed the “Raclette cheese” would be cheese served in perpetual warmth of an actual raclette grill. Or at least I would get the pleasure of watching a sheet of melted cheese being sliced off a round of semi-hard cow’s milk cheese, or view a blanket of melted cheese being poured over my plate. But alas, the cheese came already folded in a thick layer over North Arm farm potatoes in purple and their regular pale yellow hue. When severed, it was recommended that I eat it quick as the cheese cools and hardens quite speedily. Though, sadly it’s a lot of cheese and potato to eat all at once, and is best enjoyed when you can take your time with it, along with the side of pickled giardiniera vegetable. Pickled red and green peppers, cauliflower florets, onion, celery, and turnips chunks. Overall it wasn’t bad, but it didn’t have any of the pageantry like the last dish did, which I was hoping for when I ordered it. The edam cheese was pungent and salty over the semi boiled, unseasoned potatoes. You can taste the quality of each element, but all together it wasn’t all that exciting to me. As I mentioned, it would have been nice to have an actual raclette grill table side. Something to keep the cheese warm as you dip bread, starchy potato, and regular boiled vegetable into, at our own leisure This I felt would have been worth the $25 that I had to pay for a cold plate of potato and cheese.

Altogether, these were not the best dishes to eat in place of a meal. However I ordered both thinking that my my partner would share them with me, but he would later refuse to even give things a try (as a picky diner, this isn’t his type of food). And at $25 a plate I wasn’t going to let any of go to waste. So I took my time and cleaned my plate, having never had this much pickled anything in one sitting.


As more people came in wanting to drink and dine we felt the pressure to leave. Especially as these patrons were forced to stand congregating by the bar, and the servers made a few attempts to clear the table of my half picked through plates. But I held my ground. Other tables were staying longer than we were, and many friends joined them to not even order any more. Another family milked an empty bottle of wine in a bucket of melted ice, and even broke a glass with their feet propped up on the coffee table. I would be paying $100 for my stay with marked up drinks and food, so I figured I had earned my right to sit and enjoy my time here. Our bill came out to about $100, as unbeknownst to us, we were charged $9 for water. A bottle of Avian water I apparently ordered thinking it would be free water, as I selected still over sparkling. Looking back, it was no wonder that, despite it looking like we were done eating our server insisted on filling up our water glasses. Had what happened fully sunk in, I would have insisted that she pour the water from the cup, back into the tall neck Avian bottle, and I take my water to go. But instead we paid and left, spending more than we wanted to for what we had, but not regretting the entirety of it, for the experience of it.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A cozy setting and a unique menu, I just came with the wrong company to fully enjoy it all. Instead I wished I commuted up to Whistler with my fellow food bloggers and foodie friends. To fully enjoy the uniqueness of the offerings in this Canadian cabin, in Whistler, during winter, on Christmas Day. All together hallmarks of something pretty special. When in the area, I definitely recommend checking them out. However do so quick before they close for the season on January 2, 2017. And I suggest dedicating your change to their drinks over the food. Don’t deny your cravings.


Four Seasons Hotel Whistler
4591 Blackcomb Way, Whistler BC, V0N 1B4

Reflections Winter Terrance


This winter season has the “Reflections” patio within Georgia Hotel open 4-10pm daily, and all dressed up for the occasion. I really enjoy the space in the summer, but it is something else, dressed up for the holidays. A setting you can enjoy all through December.

You gain entry via the hotel’s lobby, waking to their secondary elevator and taking a ride up to the fourth floor. Immediately, the season and their well put together theme makes an impact. Pass the threshold, the room opens up to twinkling lights, reflective baubles, and tinsel and garlands strung from the ceiling. Waiting to be tended to, you are warmed by the throbbing heat of their overhead lamps. The smell of a bubbling batch of cider fills your nostrils, and the sounds of happy Christmas carols engulfs the space.


We came just after work, and despite them not having a happy hour menu, the place was packed. It is first come first served with no possibility for a reservation. So we were lucky to be able to grab one of the remaining two top high stools left. A perch by the plastic shield that separates the patio into two, keeping the elements out and the space cozy. Our position was also within view of a projector playing classic black and white movies against a black drape in the corner.

Although, the place to be is actually on one of the couches with its fuzzy pillows, under their make shift Christmas tree. A barren tree with gnarled branches hung with sparkly foam snowflakes, giant lacquered orbs, and woven with golden lights.


The same ornaments were intermingled with faux green foliage over the handsome bar, a new feature to the space. It is a lit, wooden backdrop to amber coloured whiskeys and bourbons. This display was across the room from their open kitchen.


Our adventure began with a snacking bowl of caramel popcorn and two complimentary glasses of apple cider to warm us up, and get us feeling festive. My guest likened this and the scene above to a “mini Vienna”. I found it a classy touch, fitting with the opulent setting before us.


My guest continued her drinking with some wine and myself, a festive cocktail. There was plenty to choose from for the latter. Each with a fun name like “little helper” made with egg nog, “winter wonderland” which had champagne bubbles; and “true north”, a hot beverage, like an adult hot chocolate made using rum and bourbon.


I went with “scrooged up” as I was drawn in by the description of “chocolate egg white foam” that the menu promised. This was the topping to the cocktail. A mix of tito’s handmade vodka, Mandarin orange juice, lemon and winter syrup. It was refreshing with the citrus notes and creamy like dessert, thanks to the chocolate accented whites. Definitely one I would revisit.

Choosing what to eat was just as hard, there was an impressive assembly of well themed dishes to choose from. Duck prosciutto or braised leek and chanterelle mushrooms pizzas, beef cheeks with shallots, and lobster and prawn rolls. And for dessert, gingerbread flavoured donut holes and mocha profiteroles.


We had the “polenta goat cheese croquettes” off the “savoury” portion of the menu. They were delicious, but a tad steep at $12 for a serving of four smaller discs. Each puck was fried to the prefect golden brown crispiness, soften polenta in the centre and a creamy goat cheese dressing on top. The serving also came with a sun-dried tomato and olive-like tapenade. No regrets for trying this, but I just wish that I got a few more, to feel more satisfaction from the order.


And from the “sharing” portion of the menu we had the “cheese fondue”, because there is nothing more cozy and comforting on a cold night that a hot pot of cheese. A mix of gruyere and emmental cheese made this the perfect fondue for two. The lit wick came first with bowls of sliced up French baguette chunks, red and green apple sections, pear slices, and grapes. The heated pot was worth waiting for.


With proper fondue picks, we stabbed the above and generously dipped each into the slightly brewing pot of cheese. They were not stingy, there was enough to double the cheese to fruit or bread ratio. Because realistically, you are eating this for the cheese. The chunks of bread were hard and dry, but they quickly softened with heat and moisture from the liquid cheese. I liked them the most with the salty cheese. The tart green apple slices and the sweet grapes were my second and third favourite for dipping. Both were a nice contrast in taste and texture to the melted cheese. Whereas the red apple chunks were on the softer, grainier side and the pear just a little crunchier.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
All in all no complaints. The setting, service, selection, and food all came together; fuelled by the happiness of the season. Magical. A definite recommend for a more festive date night or girls outing. I highly suggest checking it out before it closes for the season, and going back a few times to enjoy it again. Don’t deny your cravings.


Rosewood Hotel Georgia
801 W Georgia Street, Vancouver BC, V6C3G1

Crunchtime Cereal Bar


Crunchtime Cereal Bar Pop-Up


I love cereal. I love the crunch, the sweetness, the colours, and the way they have with milk. Cereal is comfort during the hardest moments of your day. (I am not a morning person)

But sadly I can never commit to a whole box of any one cereal. I like to taste and to try, but not to commit and buy. So I thought that this weekend’s pop up was my solution.

“Crunchtime cereal bar” is a two day event where you get to gorge on multiple brands of cereal by the bowl. It is happening Saturday October 1st and Sunday October 2nd, from 8am-6pm. With all proceeds of cereal sold going towards “Backpack Buddies”. “Backpack Buddies” is a local charity that supplies hungry schoolchildren with food during non-school hours.


The normal cafe space is redone to mark the occasion, with its own neon window decal to boot. You enter and appreciate the work put in to the threading of the fruit loop cereal curtain, hanging by the door. It matches the tropical theme and the pops of bold colours scattered around the room. Green palm frond decals paper the walls, and 3D versions of the leaves hang over each seat, and rest at each table. Along with it is a display of pink geometric shapes, yellow lemons, and real pineapples painted pink. The occasional lawn flamingo can also be seen. It might not have matched the cuisine, but I loved it just the same.

At this pop-up bar you have the ability to pick and choose, but not mix and match from various boxes. There are 12 different types of cereals to make your choice from. I was familiar with some, but it was the ones I weren’t with that I was most interest in.


Anyone can buy a box of chocolate filled “Krave” cereal, multi coloured “Fruit Loops”, cinnamon and sugar “Cinnamon Toast Crunch”, marshmallow filled “Lucky Charms”, and “Cap’n Crunch”; from any grocery store. I was leaning towards the limited edition Batman logo shaped “Batman Chocolate Strawberry Cereal”. “Smorz” a cereal made with chocolatey graham cracker and marshmallow. “Cookie Crisp”, which is basically a box of mini chocolate chip cookies. “Golden Nuggets”, Lion Cereal”, and “Nature’s Path Choco Chimps”. The latter few were from the UK and not available on any of our shelves.

Although I was sad that this was all that they had. I imagined a wall of boxes as tall as me, and hours spent sorting through them all. They could have easily taken a trip to the states and brought back many cereals that they offer there, but is just out of reach for those of us here, not willing to take the drive. But given that this is a pop-up and for charity, I shouldn’t expect all that, and just be happy with the ability to try a few for myself and to support others as I do so.


I went in knowing that I wanted to go all out with my cereal bowl. When else do you get the opportunity to fully deck out your breakfast with more than one cereal at a time? Because, who buys more than one box at a time? And if you do, who has more than three boxes of cereal open at any given moment? I imagined that the bag would go stale before you finished each, it if you did. So this was my chance to go nuts. Or so I thought.

It is $5 for a bowl with milk. You pay extra for the substitution of almond, soy, or chocolate milk. You also have the ability to top your cereal and milk like an ice cream sundae. They offer a bar with rainbow sprinkles, neon marshmallows, chocolate bar bits, malt balls, and gummy bears; just to name a few. Each add on came at an additional cost, making it less breakfast and more dessert. For non-coffee drinkers like myself, this was a good way to get you going first thing.


And sadly, where you can stack on toppings, you don’t have the option of more than one cereal per bowl. Therefore there is no point in selecting a domestic bowl of cereal. I assumed given the ability to pour as you go, that we would, so was severely disappointed. Especially as a few photos on their Instagram account shows bowls with more than one type of cereal.


This one cereal rule forced us to add on a toppings, cause if you didn’t, what was the point of coming here. It would just be any bowl of cereal you could have pulled together, for yourself, at home. You only get a half a cup of cereal and half a cup of milk, with no refills of either. I like eating my cereal bits at a time to keep things crunchy. So having one poured into the other for us, we were forced to finish soggy cereal and was left with excess milk. This whole affair is just like having cereal served to you. As a concept it might not be worth yew trip down; but for the charity, it was definitely worth our time and money.


I had the “Cookie Crisp” cereal with gummy bears and it was awful. The bears sank to the bottom, and there they hardened up in the cold of the milk, making them impossible to chew down. My guest had “Smorz” cereal with the add on of more marshmallows. Both were basically your sugar filled children’s cereal. Colourful and sweet.


Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This is definitely a try once for the experience kind of place. I can’t see myself eating a bowl of cereal and candy in milk, very often. And price wise, it is cheaper in the long run to buy yourself a box of cereal and a jug of milk, and to easily bring them together in the comfort of your own home. But I do suggest coming down tomorrow to try things for yourself, to say that you have, and to support a good cause. Don’t deny your cravings.


October 1st and 2nd, 2016 from 8am to 6pm.
311 West Cordova Street, Vancouver BC

The Fair at the PNE 2016, part II


Labour Day weekend at the Pacific National Exhibition.

The last weekend of summer and the last chance to hit up the PNE. Today I went with my partner who is passionate about barbecue, and would be a kid in the candy store at their outdoor BBQ pavilion. I also wanted to see a few of the exhibits I missed the first go around, and return to try a few of the more adventurous must-eats at this year’s fair.

After the maze of parking in residential blocks, and avoiding the seniors hawking their backyard spots, we eventually found some free parking, by an allotted curb a few blocks away.

After paying for entry, we bee-lined it to the barbecue area. There are four different stalls to choose from. Each serving their spin on pulled pork and ribs, with their own secret sauce. We chose our destination based on the existing line and how many trophies they had out on display. But first to get through the sea of people walking and stopping as they pleased, and dredging past the thick plumes of burnt grill smoke.

Of note, such settings are one of the only places that sudden pedestrian stops and cut offs are expected and moderately acceptable, or at least no one speaks boo on either.


Each stand has a foldable table before it. One end serves as a condiment bar where you are free to help yourself to squeeze bottle sauces and shakers of spice. On the other end, a makeshift display for their winnings. Plaques and trophies declaring them first place of this, or having the best that.

Our sight lines ended at “Gator BBQ”, an original Deep South bar since 1983. They were the only ones representing both Canada and the U.S. With their base of operations in both, and flags of both countries wafting in the breeze.

Their chefs yelled like hawkers, inviting patrons to step a little closer. They also played dance music and had their staff bobbing along to the base. They did chants for all the orders, and promised their meat to fall right into our mouths.


We shared the “rib and meat combo” for $20 and added on a square of cornbread for $3 more. The lines only looked long, all of the food was pre-made and just needed packing up in cardboard takeout containers. By the time we paid we were good to go.

The ribs were sweet and salty, with plenty of gristle for that added moistness. The sauce we squeezed in gave it a more hickory flavour. The pull pork was shredded tender, well seasoned with a smokey finish. Most had theirs on hot dogs, which would have been a great idea as I felt it was missing a base on its own. I wanted some starch and the sweeter corn bread sufficed, but potato wedges and potato salad would have been ideal.

My partner loved the food so much that despite the battle of uncomfortable indigestion he wanted more. He declared that even with all the BBQ burps he suffered and all the stomach churning that kept him up all night, every morsel he took was well worth it. A day later he wanted more, but the fair was closed for the year. He declared there is no BBQ place in Vancouver this good, and that “Gator’s” have ruined what Vancouver does have, for him. This was now his all time favourite spot for BBQ. He also promised to come back again next year and stock up.


As you can see, we overate (above) and decided to walk it off. We lapped the entire complex a few times noting rides and observing games. We appreciated other people’s willingness to play as we weren’t the type to spend money winning prizes we don’t need, but wanted to watch others pay good money to do so. I especially love watching folks struggle to carry around the giant stuffed animals, often tripping on stuffed paws as they do so.


And as for rides, neither of us also wanted to spend money to be frightened and made to feel uncomfortable. Also, a wise decision given all the BBQ we ingested. Instead we took in the sights and sounds. Screams intermingled with laughter, shouting and running, the buzzing of lights and the toll of winning bells. It’s a bevy of sights and sounds like no other. I enjoyed it all in the morning, but my partner liked the increased liveliness of it all after the sun set.


My partner isn’t one to line up for an exhibition or wait for a show. He too has little patience, and he too feels there is not much worth his time standing idle for. So we were happy for the exhibit that allowed us to pop in and out as we pleased and explore at our own pace.


I enjoy strolling down the isles of the marketplace. My partner describes it as, “Crap for sale for your home that probably will end up collecting dust”. I still enjoy browsing and hearing of the show stopper deals. Most of the merchandise is as seen on TV quality, and to be able to try it in person before buying has its own appeal. And who doesn’t like visiting the hot tub staff, dipping your hand in the Demi’s warm water, wishing you had one of these in your backyard?


We also visited the farm. In more rural places this is what a county fair is all about. Agricultural competitions and a platform to showcase livestock breeding and training techniques. Our fair combines both this tradition with the commercial of rides and vendors. Not everyone can enter the barn. Luckily my partner and I are not adverse to the strong scent of manure. We caught a horse jumping competitions and petted some bunnies and the large Buffalo in hay filled pens.


When we were confident that we had seen it all, we made our last carnival food stops before heading home.

The “plaza sweet spot” was the only stall to offer bacon flavoured cotton candy for $4.50. The attendant was kind enough to offer me a sample before I committed to purchasing an entire bag. I gather many regret their purchase soon after. I took the taste and still wanted more.

The flavour is really interesting. Bacon salt is spun with sugar for a salty and sweet, melt in your mouth treat. It was slightly sour and faintly reminded me of preserved Chinese plum. This is definitely a taste sensation you have never had before and don’t really know what to make of it. You don’t hate it because you can’t compare it to anything, yet don’t quite like it because it’s so unfamiliar.


I washed it down with some pineapple whip. I have been seeing this soft serve mentioned on social media lately, and wanted to see what the buzz was all about. The kiosk was easy to spot with an inflatable ice cream cone crowning it. They only offered soft serve, but it came in Hershey’s chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and the pineapple dole whip. You can take your treat to go in cones, cups, or as part of a float.

I had my dole whip in a waffle cone for $6. It had a nice light flavour to it. So light that you were able to eat the tower of it spiralled high, guilt free. Though I found it not as satisfying as ice cream. I ate it wishing for the creaminess of ice cream. It was more sorbet and left me unsatisfied. It was also not a very good with pairing with the buttery cone.


Luckily we ended our night in obligatory mini doughnut line. Before this, we lapped the fair a few more times because my partner had a good feeling about one stall in particular. Though the reality is, name or not, I think all the doughnuts are prepared the same way.

The dough gets pipped into a oil bath, it bobs along and gets carried on an conveyor belt, and dropped into a pan where it is allowed to dry and cool off. A dozen of them are placed into a bag, where a shaker of cinnamon and sugar is sprinkled over top. The classic fair treat with a crunchy sugar crust and a chewy doughy centre.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I will definitely be looking forward to next year’s fair. I also will plan to hit it twice again, with two different groups beginning and end; to make sure I try and taste all that I want. Maybe even three times, as I left missing out on a few more items I would have liked to try. I just hope that next year we see more and more inventive snacks and more and more novelty, like we did this year. I also hear that they are thinking about moving the fair’s occurrence from end of August to mid July, but I think the PNE is a tradition. And its timing is part of that. It has ways been the last event of summer before back to school and crisp fall weather. It marks time and is a way to end and celebrate all that was summer. Don’t deny your cravings.


2901 East Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V5K 5J1

#PopUpPatio at the Westin Grand, Robson


This is another summer only affair, and I wanted to take advantage before the season ended. This was a pop-up patio at the “Westin Grand Hotel” on Robson street. Service is only available on Thursdays and Fridays, from 5-9pm, with their happy hour being the last hour.

Located on the third floor, you enter via the hotel’s front doors. A climb up stairs leads you to their lobby to catch the elevator up. The “Westin” is in mid renovation with boarded up sections, and a showcase sampling of what there is to come from them in the near future.

Waking out of the elevator, I was caught off guard by the gym scene, training equipment and people sweating behind a wall of glass. I followed it around to the patio and pool. I anticipated being seated pool side with a tropical drink in hand. However, the pool and all the lounge chairs by it were being enjoyed exclusively by the guests staying at the hotel. And looking at the pool to appreciate this extended luxury, meant staring in those individual’s general direction. Even a few of the patio’s tables and chairs were held by the same half dressed guests. With white towels and swim suits they were splashing around in reflective blue waters. I half wished I could too, but would prefer the scene on vacation, as they were on now.

Amongst it all there was a live DJ playing, what I could only best describe as summery dance music. Techno and pop to set the mood.


The rest of us fully clothed folk took our seats on one of the tables surrounding the area. I grabbed a wicker and glass high top overlooking the downtown library’s court yard. Slightly shielded by the height of neighbouring buildings, the shade gave us respite from the summer’s sun. This was a great way to spend the last day of this heat wave, before the weather cooled.

This was a great pop-up reimagining, a clever business idea for the hotel, giving them extra income with additional guests. The patio and the food and drinks were already available for their customers staying for the night, why not open it up to a few more and fill the chairs with butts. But as an external customer, it was an awkward scene. You felt like you didn’t belong, nor was it the background you imagined. Their online presence did a poor job to illustrated what you could expect. Families on vacation and kids splashing in the pool. This wasn’t the backdrop I expected sipping $12 cocktails to.

At one end of the general seating area there was a barbecue and beer tent set up to serve. By it, their chefs cooked on griddles and their bartenders mixed cocktails. They had a specific list of drinks and food, cooling cocktails and easy to grab finger foods. Everything light and inviting to accommodate the weather. After all, eating while you sweat is the worst.

In the beginning we couldn’t decide whether we wanted to stay or not. My guest felt the setting awkward. As mentioned, the pop up patio idea was great for the hotel, but not so much for the guests off the street. Searching them online and visiting their website, it was never mentioned that the pool would ever be in use, let alone rampant with bodies. We went back and forth, and finally decided to stay.

The food and setting were decent enough, but it was the service that had it all falling short. They needed more servers for one thing. Ours was trying his best and being absolutely patience with the situation, but things were forgotten, guests went unnoticed, and you just didn’t get the five star treatment expected at a hotel.


“Appletini” with vodka and sourpuss apple; and the “pink lemon drop martini” with limoncello chambord, and cranberry juice with actual cranberries floating on top. It being outdoors and on a patio, our beverages were served in clear plastic martini glasses. There is something about drinking cocktails out of a plastic cup that takes away from the experience. It makes the drink feel cheap and its taste average.

We had a long wait for our cocktails, that pretty much came with our food. When it all finally showed up it all looked good and tasted good. But when it came time to eat any of it, we had to ask for the plates required, and the water to help wash it down. We were well enough looked after by our server, but the table next to us were less taken care of. In fact the family of three ended up walking out because no one came to greet them, let alone offer to serve them food.

However, he could have used a few pointers. When ordering he never mentioned any of the possible sides, or did he give us the chance to choose our own. Luckily, the chef instinctively gave us one of each of the side options. He also dissuaded us from getting the ceviche that we wanted. He described it as being a small portion and suggested that we don’t order it. We made a different choice on his suggestion, only to be impressed by the two martini glasses filled with ceviche walking past us. It later prompted me to run to our server, by the food tent, asking if we still had time to change our order, back to the ceviche.

He asked his chef and the answer was no, I could see that our second place tacos were already crafted and waiting to be plated. I explained my story to both hi. I felt bad for throwing our server under the bus, but explained our decision for not wanting to take his suggestion anymore. I explained how we just saw the ceviche and wanted to get it because it looked more than enough food. The chef suggested cutting one of our orders in half, to be able to have the ceviche in full. I declined saying it is what it is, and we will live with our original choice.


However they surprised and delighted by gifting us our own ceviche. The chef sent it to us with his regards. The “daily ceviche” was described as “the chef’s own creation using the season’s freshest seafood”. It was on rotation and today whitefish with grapefruit, tomato, cilantro, and sprouts was on the menu. The mix was sweet and tangy, and full of flavour. I just wished there was less juice pooled at the bottom of the glass and a few more chips. The chips were used as garnish and offered the ideal base to scoop and eat the chopped fruit and fish with. But when we ran out, the salt and vinegar chips below were helpful in replacing that void.


The chips was one of two possible sides, that we didn’t get to choose, but we ended up have both side with our two entrees. They seemed like the kind you get from a bag at your local grocery store.

The “Quinoa sliders” are prepared with home made quinoa cakes, melted Brie cheese, tomatoes, and butter lettuce; all between a gluten free ricotta bun. Except they were out of gluten free buns, and asked to use regular slider buns instead. This was preferred by us. The burger’s vegan patty was very tasty, its corn-like flavouring paired nicely with the smokiness of the cheese, the creaminess of the lettuce, and the tomato’s juiciness. This was a sweeter burger that quickly became my favourite of our three dishes.


Our last minute substitute, had the other side we wanted to try. The “Rock ta-ak oh” is tortilla shells filled with deep fried rockfish, green cabbage slaw, and Serrano pepper infused sour cream. It was crispy breading and chewy tortilla, with tangy and creamy notes, bite after bite. Fresh and light, they tasted as healthy as they looked. Although you couldn’t say the same about the sides.

The “Cheesy potato skins” topped with bacon bits, green onion, and sour cream. They were tougher when cooled down, with the need to saw the potato down piece by piece. And they lack salt despite the addition of cheese and bacon.


Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The food was good, but we came more for the setting, and that fell short. I cannot imagine myself returning, when there are other restaurants that offer similar cuisine; if not better and cheaper, being unaffiliated with a hotel chain. Don’t deny your cravings.


433 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 6L9
#PopUpPatio Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Roof Garten


Only available until late September, this roof top restaurant gives you the feeling of being outdoors, but in the climate controlled comfort of an indoor setting. They achieve this by utilizing artificial turf, bulbs closest to natural lighting, and afan-made drafty breezes that blows skirts upwards.

Located kitty corner of Granville street, just off Smithe, it is easy to miss. The building is painted black with its name in white and set in green. With doors open wide, it invites you in by rolling out the “grass” carpet. This artificial turf marks the spot, leading you from threshold to elevator. It looked spongy and supple, enough that I wish I could walk on to it with bare feet.


A ride up the escalator yielded the actual restaurant, it is located on the third floor, which is the roof top, hence the name. Though I was surprised that it was a covered patio, given the image that pops into mind when you hear the name and the weather. Especially with the potential to capitalize on the natural light and the natural heat of summer. Although what they had in place helped with the rainy days and any unexpected weather pattern changes. The ceiling was outfitted with pillowy white sheets, spinning propellor fans, and light bulbs hanging from knotted rope. The walls were covered with more artificial grass, and then set with regular indoor decorations. A series of mirrors in polka dots and a crate-box cluster of shelves.


It was clear that they were sponsored by “veuve clicquot”, a brand of French champagne. Its trademark orange and black written labels branded many decor items. A bicycle and some cubes by the first floor elevator, fluffed up throw pillows at select booths, mason jars labeled in orange and used to keep flowers well hydrated, and various bottles of champagne used solely as decoration. All together they painted the picture of a summer’s day in the French country side, the kind of imagine that left you wanted something bubbly in hand.

Aside from light and wind, the decor gave you a feeling of being outdoors with potted plants, indoor trees, walls of fabric flowers in bloom, and a decal on the elevator showing a wooded clearing with glare from the sun. Along the dining area wall were wooden panels that simulated gates, and on a few balanced window boxes with live greenery. Even the servers matched the theme. They were all dressed in white. The one assigned to us wore a lacy white spaghetti strap dress that belled out at her hips. Very summery.


And the ladies washroom too carried on with this theme, but more loosely. (Unfortunately my hand was shaky, and I only managed to capture a blurry shot of their facilities.) Wood laminate stalls trimmed with green foliage, and plastered with stickers of models looking like garden nymphs. Each wore a flower crown on her head, posed with wind blown curls in her hair, and was dressed in a flowy beige frock that reached the floor.


We had a reservation, and that got us a two top in the aisle. We asked for one of the free ones by the wall, if not one of the many, larger ones left unsat. However, we were informed that they were reserved and that their expected party would be settling in, in an hour. Fast forward two hours, and a hand full of those tables still remained empty. This included the one in the corner we had been eying, were denied of, but allowed to at least take a photo in. This special table was a designated nook all its own, and is the only one given the backdrop of grass and wood like a court yard. Above the head of seated patrons read the name of the restaurant in white, similar to their awning outside. But alas, it was not to be and we held our table in the aisle. We sat, chatted, and ate; and after almost two hours, about seven of their expecting tables were still left bare. It is sad that we didn’t get to sit at a nicer table when so many were available; and worst that they lied about them being reserved and in use, when in reality they weren’t.


There was also an option to dine in their lounge area. But the vibe here was completely different. Darkened without the same lights or the soft breeze. No flowers or turf, instead glossy tables and a mural with rainbow backdrop. In the foreground of this mural was a naked women drawn in monochrome. She sat with thigh over calf, body hunched, covering all that would need be censored. With hair tousled, she watched colourful butterflies emerge from an uncapped glass jar. This art piece tied in with the restaurant, as the butterfly was their logo. However, the rest of the symbolism in the painting was lost on me.

We were in time for happy hour, Wednesday to Sunday from 5-7pm, so took advantage of the $5 drinks and the $7 appetizers. Unknowingly, everything we had ordered was picnic ready, and hot weather appropriate.


We each had a Basil Capriosca, which is the $5 cocktail special of the day. It is a vodka based drink with sugar, syrup, and lime. Their version added a sprig of basil for that added refreshment level. This was light and easy to drink on a hot day. It also matched with our light dishes below.


The “wild mushroom bruschetta” was made using their own house ricotta and shallots. The creamy fluff of ricotta was the best, and the most memorable part of this dish. The savoury cheese had the airiness of marshmallow fluff, and it paired perfectly with the firm mushroom caps. Both sat on toasted bread with a garlicky finish, and it was this chewy bread with its crispy crust that brought it all together.


The “salmon tartare” was a mash of fish in a mason jar. It read more like a poke with salmon, soy, sesame, ginger, and avocado. In the tartare you make out the great creaminess of the avocado and tasted the fragrant sting of fried ginger. The chunks of salmon were large and noticeable, when you got some. Each cube tasted great, but there wasn’t enough of it. And without it, you were just having salty guacamole with taro chips. The chips were fragile, so easy to break that you couldn’t simply scoop chip into dip. It shattered and you lost your bite in the mix. I liked the chips a lot, and therefore I would have liked them thicker and more plentiful.


The next one wasn’t on the happy hour menu, but we ordered it after seeing it on the table next to ours. This would be the picture perfect summer salad. It was a “watermelon salad” with house ricotta, cucumber, red onion, and shoshito peppers. This salad had it all. Saltiness from the cheese, sweetness from the fruit, tanginess from the onion, and a little bit of spiciness from the drizzle of chilli oil over cucumber.


My guest was so impressed with the place that she approached the manager at the end of our meal. She inquired about closing off the space and having her birthday party here. She like how bright and cheery the space was, unlike many darkened restaurants, intentionally dim for ambience. But sadly her excitement wasn’t reflected in the manger. She spoke a matter of factly, almost dissuading my guest from having her party here with all the rules necessary to do so. The only area available would be by the bar. She didn’t want the family style high top table and they wouldn’t allow her to push a few of the tables by the wall together. Luckily the area was nice enough with booths and closer set tables. It even had the flower panel adjacent that we could use to take photos in front of, and that we did utilize today. Though this space didn’t give you all the same outdoorsy feeling with green grass on walls, and man made breezes and sunlight. But my guest was happy and that’s all that matters when looking for a venue.


Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This is a limited time only deal, so for that alone I suggest a visit. The one of a kind decor, fresh plates, and over all bright and happy setting brings you back for multiple meals. The only damper on our lovely visit was the attitude of the manager who kept her post at the hostess booth and kept her scowl from tooth to tooth. Don’t deny your cravings.


670 Smithe Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1E3
Roof Garten Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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