• Mar31

    2015 Howe Sound Brewery Tap Takeover-12

    The rain-soaked weather couldn’t stop Squamish and Vancouver craft beer lovers from heading to Howe Sound Brewing for the Third Annual Tap Takeover last Saturday.

    2015 Howe Sound Brewery Tap Takeover-11

    From 11 am, guests were able to purchase a $35 ticket that included a Howe Sound-branded mason jar filled with eight tasting tokens.

    2015 Howe Sound Brewery Tap Takeover: Muskoka and Strange Fellows

    With the exception of Ontario’s Muskoka Brewing, all 28 of HSB’s taps were filled with BC brewed pours specially created for this very popular event.

    2015 Howe Sound Brewery Tap Takeover-8

    The taps were organized into four areas: Entry area inside the bar, main taps at the back, on the patio and inside adjacent Firebread Restaurant.

    Michael Kilby, Cam Salay
    [L to R: Michael Kilby, Cam Salay]

    Michael Kilby and Cam Salay took to the stage in the afternoon, with beautiful artwork featuring the Stawamus Chief as backdrop.

    Muskoka Brewing's Muskoka Detour IPA
    [Muskoka Brewing’s Muskoka Detour IPA]

    Word spread quickly as several taps (including Moon Under Water’s Hip as Funk) were tapped out before evening. The entry taps area closed into the evening as the crowd got larger, listening to live entertainment by Vancouver folk-rock band The River and The Road while enjoying some of the province’s finest brews.

    Canoe Brewpub's Canoe Bock
    [On the patio, sheltered from the rain with Canoe Brewpub’s Canoe Bock]

    Between the two of us, we were able to sample 13 of the 28 beers, finding favourites in Bomber Brewing’s Marzen, with a lovely hop bitterness and sweet malty character, and Four Winds Brewing’s Vexillum Imperial IPA, a 9% IPA with grapefruit and melon tastes offering a balanced – and not overly bitter – tasting experience.

    2015 Howe Sound Brewery Tap Takeover-6

    Driftwood Brewing’s New Growth Pale Ale (a session ale brewed using Satori Cedar Ranch’s Centennial and Newport hops) was another fave pour. When you’re up this way, don’t miss Howe Sound’s Total Eclipse of the Hop, a dry-hopped (Chinook and Columbus) Imperial IPA containing gin-soaked oak spirals that are then aged with the beer.

    This was married with a plate of chicken and seafood paella (as part of the brewmaster’s dinner we were invited to), a smooth pairing, taste-wise!

    2015 Howe Sound Brewery Tap Takeover Brewmaster's Dinner
    [Howe Sound Brewery Tap Takeover Brewmaster’s Dinner]

    Thanks to the great folks at Howe Sound Brewing for inviting us out to enjoy the day as well as the lively four-course, beer-paired brewmaster’s dinner that took place in the back room. More of our Tap Takeover photos can be found on our Flickr set.

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  • Mar30

    Saje Wellness-5 Saje Wellness-6

    Canadian-owned and operated, Saje Wellness has grown to 18 locations across BC, Alberta, Ontario and Winnipeg. In Vancouver, we have two right in town: one on Robson Street, the other on West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano. I recently attended a seasonal event at Saje’s Robson Street shop to showcase their growing line of products.

    From pure essential oils to bath salts and lip balms, all products are made without the use of parabens, SLS, SLES, PEGS, glycols, petrochemicals, synthetic colours and fragrances.

    Saje Wellness-4

    Without these non-natural additives, Saje products embrace a 100% natural ingredients ethos. High quality products, gorgeous scents, and consumer-friendly packaging are what makes a visit to their stores inviting.

    The majority of Saje’s products are also produced locally, so the ingredients are fresh and at their best without them sitting through customs or on long-distance hauls across the country.

    Saje’s essential oils are distilled from various species of flowers, grasses, fruits, leaves and trees; opening any of their testers reveals remarkably clean and wholesome aromas. As well, the packaging contains recycled or recyclable materials, even down to the cute burlap reusable shopping bags given at purchase.

    Saje Wellness-1

    My newest bedroom accessory is the beautifully stylish and simple AromaOm ultrasonic nebulizer ($89.95). Available in either black or white, the AromaOm has a 100 ml water tank and offers three to six hours’ running time. Fill the water tank to the full level indicator, add several drops of essential oil to vary the intensity, plug the unit in with supplied DC power adapter and let the scent envelop the room.

    The silent operation is great for leaving the diffuser on at night (once the water is depleted, the unit turns itself off automatically). A soft white LED lamp gives a relaxing glowing effect; it can be left on or off.

    Saje Wellness-3

    A nebulizer serves as a humidifier and air purifier, releasing negatively-charged ions to simulate tranquility, operating without heat to diffuse the oil. At this point, it’s a matter of selecting from Saje’s well-varied essential oil collection.

    Saje provided me with the Happiness diffuser blend collection ($39.95) to start. This is one of five four-pack collections (Relaxation, Peaceful, Good Health, Brainstorm are the other four). There are two larger kits containing six and ten 5 ml bottles as well.

    Saje Wellness-7

    Happiness contains the following:
    liquid sunshine | Grapefruit, bergamot, orange, lime and mandarin
    refresh | Spearmint, lavender, lemon, eucalyptus, rosewood and cedarwood
    citrus dreams | Orange, grapefruit, lemon and Indian neroli
    cloud nine | Star anise, petitgrain, lavender, geranium, ylang ylang, hyssop, sandalwood and neroli

    My fave? I’d have to go with the liquid sunshine, with the bright, yet subtle fruit aromas given off, making it a fine scent to wake up to.

    Saje Wellness-2

    I’ll be taking the Saje arrive revived spray mist ($9.95) on my long-haul flights. At 50 ml, the carry-on friendly size spray helps minimize fatigue after flying, its fine mist feels refreshing on the face. A few pumps is all that’s needed to help acclimatize into another time zone.

    Find Saje Wellness in Vancouver at 2252 West 4th Avenue and at 1091 Robson Street.

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  • Mar27

    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike cast photo

    It is such a pleasure to attend a performance where every element-writing, acting, direction, technical aspects-come together in a consummately first-class production. Such is the Arts Club Theatre’s production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Christopher Durang’s Tony Award-winning (2013 Best Play) homage to Anton Chekov, directed by Rachel Ditor, at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. 

    Christopher Durang is a prolific and award-winning playwright whose work has been produced on and off Broadway, across the U.S., and abroad. Durang is a writer who admires the classics and references them often in his own plays. His works are characterized as satirical, dark comedy, and absurdist. They are also funny. All of this is well illustrated in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

    Susinn McFarlen, Anna Galvin
    [Susinn McFarlen, Anna Galvin]

    But while there are plenty of references to Chekov and his major works, it is certainly not necessary to be a Chekov cognoscenti to appreciate this play; better to focus attention on what is a very witty and well-written story.

    Vanya (Jay Brazeau), Sonia (Susinn McFarlen), and Masha (Anna Galvin) are three siblings burdened by their scholarly theatre-loving parents with names of characters from Chekov plays. Vanya and Sonia live together in the family home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

    We quickly learn from Vanya and Sonia that that they were resentful but faithful caretakers of their demented parents (now deceased), that Sonia was adopted, that Masha financially supports her two older siblings, and that, while claiming to be unhappy, Vanya and Sonia are truly set in their ways. 

    Carmen Aguirre
    [Carmen Aguirre]

    Their lives have stagnated while younger glamourous Masha has left home and become a Hollywood star. She shows up unexpectedly at the family home, ostensibly to attend an influential neighbour’s weekend costume party, with much younger toy boy Spike (Robert Salvador) in tow. Her siblings find out eventually that she has decided to sell the family home — the true reason for her visit.

    Rounding out the ensemble are part-time housekeeper Cassandra (Carmen Aguirre) and Nina (Katey Hoffman), the visiting niece of a neighbour.

    Director Rachel Ditor’s made an inspired choice of cast members. Under her able direction, they all work well together and perfectly respond to their characters with a mixture of the ridiculous and the poignant. Moreover, Durang has weaved into the group scenes parts for each performer in which each gets to shine in their own individual moment on stage. All six actors rise to the occasion. 

    Cassandra the housekeeper/clairvoyant lives up to her Greek mythology namesake. She dramatically makes dour prophecies which no one understands and serve only to irritate her employers, but in effect confirm their own negative view of the world. Carmen Aguirre is perfect in this role.

    Anna Galvin
    [Anna Galvin]

    Anna Galvin is excellent as the self-centred and dictatorial Masha who treats the others  as her supporting cast. She transforms over the course of the weekend from total narcissist to honestly revealing her fears of growing older, her fading career, and her failure at relationships (five times married and divorced). 

    Susinn McFarlen’s Sonia also effectively transforms during the course of the weekend. She starts out as resentful and angry, but turns into the star of the costume party as the Evil Queen as portrayed by Maggie Smith.

    Robert Salvador, Katey Hoffman
    [Robert Salvador, Katey Hoffman] 

    Katey Hoffman is sweet as Nina, the starstruck aspirant actress who forms a special bond with “Uncle Vanya”, and who plays a molecule in a play written by Vanya.   

    Especially memorable and brilliantly done is Robert Salvador’s strip scene in Act 1 with its shades of The Real Monty and just as funny.

    But the highlight of the evening is Vanya’s rant in Act 2. For most of the play he is timid and conciliatory, but loses it when Spike rudely answers a text on his phone at an inappropriate moment. Durang has saved the best speech for last.

    Robert Salvador, Anna Galvin, Jay Brazeau
    [Robert Salvador, Anna Galvin, Jay Brazeau]

    Vanya criticizes everything wrong with today’s technology-obsessed society and praises everything right with the 1950’s. No one over 50 raised in North America will miss the cultural references in Jay’s monologue. Durang makes interesting observations on mid-20th century culture that was banal but shared, compared with technology-diverse but disconnected 21st century society. It is doubtful anyone could have carried off this monologue better than Jay Brazeau.

    Alison Green’s set is a classic dining room, very functional, but giving the impression of a much larger home. Murray Price’s use of music is intriguing but adds to the overall ambiance. Sheila White’s costumes, especially Sonia’s kitschy but stunning party outfit, help to visualize the transformation of the characters.     

    The sell-out audience responded with enthusiasm throughout the two hour presentation.          

    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike continues at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage through April 19.

    Photos by David Cooper.

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  • Mar27

    The Urban Tea Merchant

    A visit to The Urban Tea Merchant is a colourful journey into the world of tea. Each tea tin is beautifully designed, from Earl Grey Gentleman to Tea Party Tea. Earlier this week, the West Georgia Street shop invited local writers and media to sample from three spring teas and both Sakura Tea and Easter brunch menus.

    Sakura! Sakura! green and cherry blossom loose tea
    [Sakura! Sakura! tea]

    Much in the same way Kyoto, Japan’s cherry blossoms symbolize renewal of life, Vancouver’s cherry blossoms signal the arrival of spring. Despite Mother Nature’s early arrival this year when it comes to our beloved cherry blossoms, Sakura! Sakura!, a green tea with cherry blossoms, has just arrived in Vancouver. The refreshing sipper is infused with the beautiful blossoms, making for a smooth tasting green.

    White Spring and Sakura! Sakura! teas

    White tea is often compared to champagne for its delicate qualities. TWG’s White Spring Tea is classified as a rare tea and is only available for picking three days per year. The buds have a natural fragrance, paired with a gorgeous cherry blossom aroma.

    Urban Tea Merchant/Sakura Tea Service
    [Sakura Tea service]

    Often regarded as a great symbol of hope and renewal, cherry blossoms symbolize the ephemeral nature of life.

    Urban Tea Merchant/Sakura Tea Service

    Easter-themed Tea Party Tea is a blend designed to pair with both savoury and sweet foods; black-tea-based, it has a defining vanilla aroma at the nose.

    Another tea in the spring lineup is Mad Hatter’s Tea, an Easter-themed tea for kids.

    Urban Tea Merchant/Sakura Tea Service

    Urban Tea’s culinary team draws inspiration from the entire TWG assortment, creating a unique flavour experience for each item on the menu. The Urban Tea Merchant also plans to expand this fall: its collection will top 500 teas for the ultimate in tea gastronomy.

    Urban Tea Merchant/Sakura Tea Service

    The three-tiered Sakura Tea service includes sweet and savoury items:
    – Miso-maple glazed sablefish in butter lettuce
    – Tokyo-Singapore Tea tuna tartare
    – Rosette of smoked salmon with wasabi aioli
    – Wagyu Beef Yakitori
    – Weekend in Venice Tea strawberry tart
    – Tuxedo-dressed strawberries
    – TWG Tea macarons
    – Sakura! Sakura! Tea caviar beads wrapped in melon
    – Fresh fruit and assorted chocolates

    Urban Tea Merchant/Easter brunch
    [TWG Easter tea service]

    The Easter Brunch Tea service includes:
    – Imperial Lapsang Souchong chicken cone
    – Tomato Tea sandwich with piave and watercress aioli
    – Rosette of smoked salmon with wasabi aioli
    – Poached eggs Florentine, Hollandaise
    – Scrambled egg with Northern Divine caviar, crème fraîche

    Urban Tea Merchant/Easter brunch

    The Easter tea service will be offered from April 3 through 6, and includes Easter Tea, Easter Brunch, and MadHatter’s Tea Service (for children), all available with teas from TWG’s spring collection.

    Urban Tea Merchant

    Founded in 2004 in Singapore by Karinna and Tom James, The Urban Tea Merchant is a luxury tea company offering both fine tea and tea accessories. The Vancouver location is the retail brand’s exclusive Canadian partner. TWG (The Wellness Group) celebrates 1837, the year that Singapore became a trading post for teas, spices, and fine epicurean products.

    Urban Tea Merchant tasting

    TWG’s collection happens to be the largest in the world, including products from every tea-producing country’s harvests. TWG Tea boutiques are located in London, New York, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Hong Kong and in other major cities, sold in gourmet shops, served at fine hotels and restaurants as well as on international airlines.

    Urban Tea Merchant is located at 1070 West Georgia Street in Vancouver.

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  • Mar25

    Sandy McGill of Designworks USA, BMW Group
    [Sandy McGill, Lead Designer of Color, Materials, and Finish at BMW Group DesignworksUSA]

    Yesterday morning, a media group was invited to breakfast at the ultra luxurious Fairmont Pacific Rim Presidential Suite to learn about BMW Group’s DesignworksUSA and one of its leading designers based out of the Los Angeles headquarters.

    Sandy McGill breakfast at Fairmont Pacific Rim-2

    Sandy McGill began as an intern at DesignworksUSA; she’s currently been with the design consultancy for just over two decades. DesignworksUSA is a global design consultancy and subsidiary of BMW Group providing design consulting services for BMW Group brands including BMW, MINI, and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars as well as external clients such as Microsoft, Starbucks, HP, Mohawk, Embraer, and many more.

    Sandy McGill breakfast at Fairmont Pacific Rim-4

    Sandy’s color work has been reflected in all the BMW Group brands, including the 2005-2009 Formula One cars. According to research, 80% of consumer purchase decisions are based on colour choices. Sandy and her team work to customize colour finishes, materials, and develop interiors for both Designworks’ individual collection and manufacture programs.

    Sandy McGill breakfast at Fairmont Pacific Rim-1
    [Marrying DesignworksUSA with Italian design elements at the Fairmont Pacific Rim]

    From smartphones to refrigerators, cars to rails, the globally-focused team works to find design solutions to innovative products. Designworks has expanded to offices in both Munich and Shanghai.

    Started two years ago, the individual program entails craftsmanship and exclusive materials, including high quality Merino leather and hand-selected woods. A single log is used to maintain uniformity as well as colour throughout a car interior.

    Sandy McGill breakfast at Fairmont Pacific Rim-3
    [The stellar view from the Presidential Suite]

    To go a step further, customers can choose individual manufacturing, including custom monogramming on the seats, decorative trim, and limited-edition products.

    Customers are invited to the Designworks USA studio to create the car of their dreams. A virtual wall shows a full-size car model, including all choices made during the consultation to get a complete picture prior to ordering.

    We asked Sandy what the current trends in custom car interiors are. Browns seem to be replacing black as the new go-to colour. Green is also due to make a comeback for customization. What influences car designers? Architecture is a biggie, as well as the Milan Furniture Fair, where the latest on-trend designs are revealed and showcased.

    The Vancouver International Auto Show is on now through March 29 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Visit DesignworksUSA online for more information.

    at BMW Group DesignworksUSA

    More about Sandy McGill
    For DesignworksUSA external clients, Sandy has developed color strategies for consumer, medical and aviation industries. Consumer products include Nilfisk vacuum cleaners, HP printers and Varian Medical Systems. Aviation strategies include Embraer and Pilatus. Sandy designed a top-selling carpet collection for Lees Carpet that is currently installed in the DesignworksUSA design studio.

    Sandy has recently led the BMW Individual initiative at DesignworksUSA where BMW 6 and 7 series customers can come to DesignworksUSA for a personal color, trim, and paint consultation in the context of BMW Design.

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  • Mar25

    Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

    Each month, Melanie Friesen invites a distinguished guest to Vancity Theatre’s Cinema Salon, in order to present his/her favourite film. After the screening, both audience and speaker have the opportunity to engage over drinks and snacks in the Vancity lounge. This month’s film is Milos Forman’s 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

    Jack Nicholson plays McMurphy as if he were born to it, and the supporting cast provides fine, detailed performances.” — Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

    Considered one of the greatest American films, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest swept the top five major Academy Awards of 1975. Based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey and set in a mental institution, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest deals with a very 1970’s issue: individual versus establishment.

    In two towering performances, the battle of the wills is fought by minor criminal Murphy (Jack Nicholson) and domineering Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher), the cold and efficient matron of McMurphy’s ward. It’s a world of hammer and tongs, including those quintessential Nicholson grins.


    Actress and singer Colleen Rennison is a Vancouver native who began her acting career at five years of age and has appeared on many television shows and feature films including The Story of Us, The Outer Limits, and Down River.

    In 2008, she relocated to New York to attend Circle in the Square Theatre School, leaving after one year to pursue a music career. Since returning to Vancouver, Colleen has released a critically acclaimed debut EP, Boo Hoo Hoo, with her blues-rock band No Sinner and solo album See the Sky About to Rain.

    Vancity Cinema Salon with Colleen Rennison Presents One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
    Date: Tuesday, April 7, 7:30 pm
    Venue: Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour Street, Vancouver
    Tickets: $13.00; may be purchased online

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  • Mar24

    Plaza Premium Lounge at YVR

    Plaza Premium has recently upgraded its latest lounge at YVR’s new A-B Connector on Level 3 Domestic departures, joining three other spaces in the airport for a total of 16,500 square feet for travellers to relax while in transit. The 6,390-square foot space is part of the company’s goal to offer travellers a first-class experience regardless of their chosen airline or ticket class.

    Plaza Premium Lounge at YVR

    We recently experienced the lounge, designed by Kinney Chan of renowned Hong Kong design firm Kinney Chan & Associates. After checking in at the front desk, either walk up the spiral staircase or take the elevator to get to the lounge level.
    Continue reading »

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  • Mar23

    Stefan Sagmeister at MOV

    Next month, The Museum of Vancouver will present a vibrant exhibition and profound exploration of one of humanity’s universal desires: happiness. Conceived by one of the world’s foremost designers and creative minds, Stefan Sagmeister, The Happy Show will engage visitors from April 23 to September 7.

    One of the largest exhibitions in MOV’s 120-year history, this astonishing experience will transcend the boundary between art and design and will take over museum galleries and in-between spaces—stairwells, hallways, and restrooms—in order to ask: what makes us happy? 
    Continue reading »

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  • Mar23

    Catelli Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains pasta assortment

    What’s old is new again – at least when it comes to eating grains. That’s the core message behind Catelli Foods Corporation in announcing the launch of new, all natural Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains pasta, a first-of-its-kind product introduced to Western Canadian store shelves in late January.
    I’m all about standing behind a healthy carb: Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains pasta blends 100% Canadian whole wheat with five wholesome ancient grains: quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet and sorghum.

    Chef Lynn Crawford
    Food Network Celebrity Chef Lynn Crawford helped launch the new line of pasta at an exclusive cooking event last week at PICA (Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts).

    “Whole grains and ancient grains have been a healthy choice for thousands of years, and Catelli has transformed this mix of proven ingredients into a simple, delicious and nutritious product,” said Chef Crawford, award-nominated cookbook author and chef-owner of Toronto-based Ruby Watchco restaurant.

    In addition to her busy restaurant, Crawford is host of Food Network Canada’s Pitchin’ In, judge of the Food Network Canada’s Chopped Canada, previous executive chef at Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto and New York — and the first female Canadian invited to participate in the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters Season Five.

    Chef Lynn Crawford and Ariane Colenbrander of Vancouverscape

    After an intro and chat about cooking with pasta, we were led into PICA’s culinary kitchen, equipped with chef’s toques and aprons, ready to produce Chef Lynn’s chilled noodle salad with ginger wasabi dressing. Lucky for us, the ingredients were already laid out waiting for chopping and measuring, the pasta pots already at the boil.

    This healthy salad is super easy to make, is flavour-packed, and will make for great summer dining options, as it’s easily portable for picnics, camping, and other outdoor adventures.

    Chef Lynn Crawford and PICA culinary team
    [Chef Lynn Crawford and PICA culinary team]

    The first time in any kitchen leads to searches for pots, pans, tongs, measuring cups, and I’d like to extend a huge thanks to the PICA team for lending a helping hand in their kitchen.

    Certified GMO-free (NON GMO Project Verified), Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains pasta is available in three cuts –  Spaghetti, Spaghettini and Rotini. We used Catelli’s spaghettini in the salad (find the recipe below).

    Catelli five grains
    The health benefits of eating 100% whole grain wheat have been touted for years, but what makes the other grains so healthy? Here’s at look at the five grains behind the pasta:
    – Dating back to the 13th century South American Inca Empire, quinoa is high in fibre, protein and minerals – including magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron – and low on the glycemic index.
    – Native to the Americas and prized by Aztec civilization, amaranth is rich in protein, containing all the essential amino acids, key vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron.
    – Originating in Ethiopia and Eritrea between 4,000 BCE and 1,000 BCE, teff, a poppy seed-sized grain, is high in protein, fibre, calcium, thiamin and iron.
    – Domesticated in Northeastern Africa over 5,000 years ago, sorghum – a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin and magnesium – is known to support digestive health, help fight cardiovascular disease and help control blood sugar levels.
    – Cultivated 4,000 years ago from wild West African grass, nutty-flavoured millet is known to be heart healthy, containing high levels of protein, magnesium, and niacin. Alkalizing to the body, millet is considered one of the most digestible and non-allergenic grains available.

    Ariane Colenbrander of Vancouverscape at PICA kitchen, Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Want to incorporate these healthy grains into your cooking? I’m working together with Catelli® to offer one lucky reader a year’s supply of Ancient Grains pasta. That’s 60 boxes of pasta! To enter, follow Vancouverscape on Twitter and simply leave a comment below describing your favourite pasta dish, or retweet the following:

    Enter for a chance to win a year’s supply of Catelli Ancient Grains pasta from #Catelli & @Vancouverscape http://goo.gl/EU0Jk5

    Do both for an extra entry. I’ll draw a winner at random on Monday, April 6 at 5 pm. Contest open to Canadian residents only. Good luck to all entrants and here’s a toast to healthy eating!
    Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains pasta retails for $3.29 and is available at major retailers in Western Canada. Visit Catelli® online for more product info.

    Catelli Chilled Noodle with Ginger Wasabi Dressing

    Chilled Noodle Salad with Ginger Wasabi Dressing (serves four)
    Prep time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 8 minutes

    1 package (340 g) Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains Spaghettini
    2 cups (500 ml) snow peas, thinly sliced diagonally
    1 cup (250 ml) shelled edamame
    1 small English cucumber
    2 cups (500 ml) Napa cabbage, finely shredded
    1 cup (250 ml) red pepper, cut into matchsticks
    3 green onions, thinly sliced
    1 ripe avocado, sliced
    1/4 cup (60 ml) cilantro leaves
    2 tbsp (30 ml) black sesame seeds
    Ginger Wasabi Dressing:
    1/4 cup (60 ml) seasoned rice vinegar
    3 tbsp (45 ml) canola oil
    2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce
    2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
    1 tsp (5 ml) lemon zest
    2 tsp (10 ml) brown sugar
    2 tsp (10 ml) sesame oil
    1 tsp (5 ml) grated fresh ginger
    wasabi to taste
    1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well. Rinse under cold water until well chilled; transfer to large bowl and set aside.
    2. In a pot of boiling water, cook snow peas and edamame until tender-crisp. Drain and rinse under cold water until well chilled; set aside.
    3. Meanwhile, halve the cucumber lengthwise and use the end of a spoon to scoop and discard seeds; cut cucumber into julienne strips.
    4. Ginger-Wasabi Dressing: Whisk together rice vinegar, canola oil, soy sauce, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar, sesame oil and ginger. Season with wasabi to taste.
    5. Add cucumber, snow peas, edamame, Napa cabbage, red pepper, green onions and avocado to noodles; toss with enough dressing to coat.
    6. Garnish with cilantro leaves and black sesame seeds.
    Tip: If time permits, chill the noodle dish by refrigerating for one to four hours.
    Per serving: 590 calories, 19 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 710 mg sodium, 84 g carbohydrates, 145 g fibre, 13 g sugar, 21 g protein

    Photos courtesy of Catelli Foods Corporation.

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  • Mar20

    Garrison Brewing In Session ISA-1-2

    Garrison Brewing’s newest release, In Session ISA (India Session Ale), is an easy sipper, nutty and smooth with a subtle hoppy bitterness containing both citrus and tropical fruit flavours. This one’s got a beautiful golden colour and uses El Dorado, Belma, and Crystal hops.

    It’s low in alcohol at 4.4% abv however isn’t shy on flavour and hops. We enjoyed the vanilla aftertaste in this food-friendly ISA.

    Hop lovers can pair this ISA with steak, burgers, or focaccia.

    In Session ISA comes in a six pack of 341 ml bottles, available at Garrison’s retail store by Seaport Farmers’ Market as well as at private liquor stores in Nova Scotia.

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  • Mar20

    Weapons Of Mass Distraction
    [Weapons Of Mass Distraction by Birger King on Flickr]

    I’ve often had this discussion with fellow bloggers, my husband, and friends in the community. What exactly IS the worth of a blog post to a PR company or event promoter?

    First off, a typical post contains valuable information, photography, and a lifespan that far outlasts traditional media and local weeklies. It’s also spell-checked, copy edited and curated for online audiences, made concise and to the point in a compact format (at least in my world). Secondly, the post can be shared around the globe via social networks for months, even years on end.

    Why some companies don’t see the fundamental value of a well-written post is a puzzle to me. Advertisers charge for every possible magazine and newspaper spot, whether it be for advertorials or ad space. When a writer posts valuable content on a site for the world to see – for free – it not only devalues the industry but takes away precious time from other tasks, healthy outdoor breaks, fitness, and quality time with loved ones.

    Let’s be honest: if there’s a company that aligns with your ethics and offers up product in exchange for your valuable time, that’s certainly a viable means of building a working relationship that hopefully over time will translate to monetary gain on your end. So many companies have approached me (and continue to do so daily) hoping that I’ll place their product, service, or event on my site for free.

    I understand that you’ve given me content and photography that’s simply a matter of cut and paste into my WordPress (or other CMS) dashboard. Sure, the intern may have overlooked a grammatical error or two, but heck, why should I take the time and go over the copy, looking for irregularities? I mean, come on, you’ve given me an easy time-saving way of posting your content.

    Here’s why. I take pride in my work and whatever imagery I choose to add to the story.

    And then there’s that time thing again: would you want to spend your days emailing bloggers and writers for free?

    The next time you approach a blogger to write for free, remember how much time goes into their daily routine, aside from that ‘simple cut and paste job’— admin, web maintenance, editing, photo sourcing/shooting/editing, and yes, a LOT of emails.

    Over and out.

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  • Mar19

    Team Art Institute of Vancouver/People's Choice winners!
    [2013 People’s Choice Award winners Team Art Institute]

    For 15 years, the Healthy Chef Competition has challenged groups of BC-based culinary schools, hotels, and restaurants to gather their fruits, herbs, and vegetables, square off against one another and create fantastic plates where the produce is the star.
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  • Mar19

    PiDGiN Mushrooms, snap peas, egg, soy yuzu brown butter
    [Mushrooms, snap peas, egg, soy yuzu brown butter]

    On the occasion of bringing new Executive Chef Shin Suzuki on board, PiDGiN hosted a group of media and food writers to its award-winning Gastown eatery earlier in the week.

    PiDGiN salmon, fish roe
    [Salmon, cod roe]

    Along with a recent menu revamp, PiDGiN has gained national recognition for culinary excellence. The menu will be a combination of tried-and-true favourites (including Parisienne gnocchi and Dan-dan kohlrabi noodle salad with tofu and almonds) alongside some of Chef Suzuki’s own creations.

    PiDGiN Raw scallops, pomegranate, red curry oil, daikon, green apple PiDGiN Potato & mentaiko udon, spicy cod roe, seaweed butter
    [Raw scallops, pomegranate, red curry oil, daikon, green apple; potato & mentaiko udon, cod roe]

    The dishes are beautifully presented and upon sampling offer a great combination of flavours, textures, and colours alongside a curated list of craft cocktails, single malt scotches, Japanese whiskies, wines, sakes and beer.

    Chef Shin Suzuki PiDGiN
    [PiDGiN Executive Chef Shin Suzuki; photo courtesy of PiDGiN]

    Toronto born and raised, Chef Suzuki looks to traditional flavours from his Japanese heritage and combines them with classic French techniques. His plates are highly composed and influenced by bold spices and humble ingredients from East and West, a perfect match for the ethos of PiDGiN.

    PiDGiN Parisienne gnocchi, radish, radish green pistou, ricotta PiDGiN Fried chicken wings
    [PiDGiN Parisienne gnocchi, radish, radish green pistou, ricotta; fried chicken wings]

    Honing his skills at Ferrandi Paris, the French school of culinary arts, Chef Suzuki’s resume boasts stints at many of the most acclaimed restaurants in Paris, including Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, and Taillevent, where he trained under Chef Alain Solivérès.

    Cook the Vote Party at Pidgin-15

    About PiDGiN
    Designed with beauty and comfort in mind, PiDGiN and its menu represent global travels and life experiences by both its owners and chefs. With no distinction between casual and fine dining, the expertly crafted menu exudes a delicate approachability associated with familiar flavours and childhood memories. 

    Pidgin is located at 350 Carrall Street and is open Mondays to Saturdays from 5 pm to midnight and Sundays from 6 pm to midnight. Also consider checking out their ‘before and after dark’ happy hour (5 to 6:30 pm and 10:30 pm to late).

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  • Mar18

    SALONTEA The Romantic (green tea-infused) macaron by Kitchening

    Jour de Macaron returns to Vancouver for the fifth year in a row on Friday, March 20, with many citywide bakeries offering a special macaron and/or supporting a cause with purchase.

    Wasabi macaron with caviar and cream topping

    This year, look for creations by Bel Café, Faubourg (all three locations: Kerrisdale, downtown and West Van at Park Royale; 100% of proceeds benefit Canadian Cancer Society), Soirette (portion of sales to Make-A-Wish Foundation of BC and Yukon), French Make Baking (by donation to BC Children’s Hospital), Thierry (10% of sales benefit St. Paul’s Hospital) and Thomas Haas (Kitsilano and North Van; 100% of proceeds go towards helping Canuck Place Children’s Hospice).

    Grab a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy some of these fine little treats for several worthy causes!

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  • Mar18

    El Naturalista El Viajero Mary Janes

    Out here on the West coast, spring is definitely in the air, and these pretty little El Viajero mary janes by El Naturalista capture the season in a range of colours. I was sent the El Viajero’s in a lovely shade of spring green. One thing about El Naturalista shoes that I can count on: comfort right out of the box. I can’t say enough good things about a well-crafted, high-quality shoe that doesn’t need a breaking-in period!

    El Viajero translates to The Traveller in English. These shoes are created for long walks and are lightweight enough for carry-on packing.

    El Naturalista El Viajero Mary Janes

    The leather is treated with natural oils and grease to produce a softness; the light grained texture is complemented by a comfortable, low rubber sole and El Naturalista’s green icon, updated from their former frog logo.
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