• Jan23

    Mamma Mia National Tour Cast photo
    [Mamma Mia! National Tour cast; photo by Joan Marcus]

    Broadway Across Canada is thrilled to present their exciting 2015/2016 season at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

    This season’s shows include:
    Disney’s The Lion King | June 18 to July 12, 2015
    Over 70 million people around the world have experienced the phenomenon of Disney’s The Lion King, and now you can, too, when Vancouver’s best-loved musical returns to the Queen E Theatre. Winner of six Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, this landmark musical event brings together one of the most imaginative creative teams on Broadway.

    The Lion King national tour
    [The Lion King national tour]

    Tony Award®-winning director Julie Taymor brings to life a story filled with hope and adventure set against an amazing backdrop of stunning visuals. The Lion King also features some of Broadway’s most recognizable music, crafted by Tony Award®-winning artists Elton John and Tim Rice.

    Once | November 17 to 22, 2015
    Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards® including Best Musical, Once is a truly original Broadway experience. Featuring an impressive ensemble of actors/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, Once tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician who’s about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs.

    Once National Tour photo
    [Once National Tour]

    As the chemistry between them grows, his music soars to powerful new heights, but their unlikely connection turns out to be deeper and more complex than a typical romance. Emotionally captivating and theatrically breathtaking, Once draws you in from the very first note and never lets go, an unforgettable story about going for your dreams and the power of music to connect us all.

    Dirty Dancing | January 12 to 17, 2016
    Dirty Dancing, the classic story on stage, is an unprecedented live experience, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance, and sensational dancing. Seen by millions around the world, this worldwide smash hit tells the classic story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds who collide in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives.

    Dirty Dancing National Tour
    [Dirty Dancing National Tour]

    Dirty Dancing features hit songs Hungry Eyes, Hey Baby, Do You Love Me?, and the heart-stopping (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life. Don’t miss your chance to see this record-breaking live theatre sensation. You’ll have the time of your life!

    Season Option:
    Mamma Mia! | March 29 to April 3, 2016
    Mamma Mia! is the ultimate feel-good show that has audiences coming back again and again to relive the thrill. Now it’s your turn to have the time of your life at this smash-hit musical that combines ABBA’s greatest hits, including Dancing Queen, S.O.S., Super Trouper, Take A Chance on Me and The Winner Takes It All, with an enchanting tale of love, laughter, and friendship.

    Broadway Across Canada’s 2015/2016 Vancouver season subscribers receive exclusive perks:
    – Priority access over general public
    – Easy payment plans
    – Guaranteed seats for all season presentations
    – Ticket exchange services
    – Lost ticket replacement
    – Online upgrades and much more

    Season ticket packages are now available for renewing subscribers and will go on sale to the general public on February 4 at 10 am. Package costs range in price per performance, seat location, and date of purchase. For more information, visit the Broadway Across Canada website.

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  • Jan22

    Rob Drummond in Bullet Catch

    Is free will just an illusion?

    Glaswegian Rob Drummond has a special show lined up for this year’s PuSh Festival. Bullet Catch, now on at the Arts Club Revue Stage, makes for an intimate evening of trust, friendship, and some pretty awesome magic tricks.

    Drummond has performed across five continents, his 85-minute show culminating in a death-defying, nail-biting bullet catch (in the teeth!) as a volunteer stands before him and pulls the trigger.

    Rob Drummond in Bullet Catch

    The story unfolds on stage as a volunteer is rounded up from the audience to help tell the tale of William Henderson, a magician whose life came to an end after he attempted to perform the bullet catch in London, even after being strongly advised against it by none other than Harry Houdini.

    There are three thoughts that go through a person’s mind when they first meet someone: fight, flee, or love. Hence, three large boards are prominently displayed on stage: Kill, Save, Love. Through a series of connections (and based on one or more of those three themes), the magician works his talent on both the volunteer and the audience, connecting on a human level, while performing some mind-blowing stunts.

    The true thrill is in guessing how the heck Drummond manages to correctly answer some of the questions he poses to the volunteer. There comes a time in the show when he offers to reveal one of his trade secrets. I won’t spoil the outcome, nor the audience reaction, as each performance is unique, its unfolding entirely dependent on the type of volunteer that winds up on stage with him.

    Rob Drummond in Bullet Catch

    Sitting in the audience, it’s hard not to wonder when the bullet catch will happen. Drummond is not intent on making a fool of either his volunteer or the audience, and by the time the stunt’s about to take place, you already feel comfortable enough knowing that it will turn out OK (and knowing that he’s performed this show numerous times without a disaster doesn’t hurt either). Whether or not William Henderson ever existed, we’ll never know. What matters here is the trust that Hammond bestows upon his volunteer.

    At times, it was hard to understand Drummond due to his thick Scottish accent. The audience would catch a joke and I felt as though I’d missed the punchline; I was unfortunately not the only one in the audience who experienced this.

    Suffice it to say, so much of Bullet Catch resonates with the audience, garnering Drummond a well-deserved standing ovation during last night’s media opening.

    Written, performed, and co-directed by Rob Drummond, Bullet Catch continues at the Revue Stage through February 7.

    Photos by Megan Verhey.

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  • Jan21

    Bump n Grind Cafe opening-1 Bump n Grind Cafe opening-2

    Although South Granville’s second location of Bump n Grind Café opened nearly a month ago to date, last night was their media kick-off, introducing local writers and food lovers to their assortment of divine sweets, coffees, teas, and sandwiches.

    Bump n Grind Cafe opening-10

    On hand to greet guests were owners Cheryl and Kyle Wright, busy parents and owners of two cafés (another Bump n Grind exists at 916 Commercial near Venables).

    Bump n Grind Cafe opening-11 Bump n Grind Cafe opening-9 Bump n Grind Cafe opening-3
    [Bottom: Decorative Chocolate and Roasted Almond Gibraltars created for opening night]

    Even before the first Commercial Drive café was frothing milk for those beautiful cappuccinos, Cheryl competed and placed fifth overall in the National Canadian Barista Championship.

    Bump n Grind Cafe opening-7

    The couple are passionate about serving quality coffee and food, and found a community-oriented space right along busy shopping corridor South Granville Street. I agree; the spot is located right next door to Meinhardt’s and in the heart of an easily-accessible street that receives a lot of daily foot traffic.

    Bump n Grind Cafe opening-6 Bump n Grind Cafe opening-5

    Bump n Grind’s coffee selection regularly rotates to showcase Canadian coffee roasters; Phil & Sebastian Coffee hails from Calgary, Alberta while Fernwood Coffee comes from Victoria. I also spotted Brooklyn, New York’s Mast Brothers chocolate bars. I’ve got my eye on that Stumptown Coffee chocolate bar!

    Bump n Grind Cafe opening-4

    The cozy, well-lit cafe feats wood accents designed by Tetherstone Construction’s Dallas Matson. Reclaimed fir wood beams with simple light bulb fixtures suspended from the ceiling aim to bring the room’s height down, while tabletops and display shelving are made of polished ash and walnut.

    Bump n Grind Cafe opening-8
    [Melting Moments, delightful with a cup of tea or latte!]

    Look for pour-over coffee, Aeropress, and French press coffees in addition to espressos, lattes, and a selection of loose leaf tea (including Almond Rooibos, Organic Earl Grey, and Citrus Sencha). The dairy-free Mookie is a cross between a muffin and a cookie. Don’t miss the shortbread-like Melting Moments with a soft grapefruit filling.

    Bump n Grind Café is located at 3010 Granville Street in Vancouver.

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  • Jan20

    Pino Posteraro, Mijune Pak
    [Cioppino’s Pino Posteraro, Follow Me Foodie’s Mijune Pak]

    Back for a second year, 6 Course Discourse, an evening of gourmet bites, BC wines, and six chefs discussing food industry challenges and discoveries, was hosted by Follow Me Foodie’s Mijune Pak. Vancouver’s Edgewater Casino theater served as the venue, as guests were given wristbands and a wine glass at the door to begin the tasting part of the evening.

    6 Course Discourse-8 Maenam: Latiang of lobster: crispy egg nests, caramelized coconut, lemongrass, lime leaf, shallots, cilantro The Fish Counter: Poached BC sidestripe shrimp ceviche Bambudda Gastown: Pork belly appetizers Chocolate Arts: Honey and rosemary dark chocolates
    [Maenam: Latiang of lobster; The Fish Counter: BC shrimp ceviche; Bambudda Gastown: Pork belly appetizers; Chocolate Arts: Honey and rosemary dark chocolates]

    The event’s first hour provided a chance to chat with the chefs, taste their one-bite gastronomies, and sample BC wines. The Fish Counter, Maenam, Hawksworth, Bambudda Gastown, Chocolate Arts, Thomas Haas Chocolates, Cioppino’s Mediterranean, Savoury Chef Catering, NextJen gluten-free baking goods, and No Fixed Address Catering each offered samples specially prepared for the night.

    NextJen: gluten-free raspberry drops Hawksworth: Albacore confit, rice cracker Savoury Chef: Kasu cured grilled flat iron steak Thomas Haas: Nutty Fiancier bar sandwiched with hazelnut cream, almond and Hawaiian mini teacakes
    [NextJen: gluten-free raspberry drops; Hawksworth: Albacore confit, rice cracker; Savoury Chef: Kasu cured grilled flat iron steak; Thomas Haas: Nutty Fiancier bar sandwiched with hazelnut cream, almond and Hawaiian mini teacakes]

    We made our way towards the theater for the chef talks following the tasting. Each chef briefly chatted about what drives their passion in the kitchen, career challenges, how to help aspiring young chefs to stay the course, and other trials and tribulations of working in the fast-faced, highly-competitive industry.
    Continue reading »

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  • Jan19

    Nathan Schmidt in Underneath the Lintel
    [Nathan Schmidt in Underneath the Lintel]

    As Eastern European violin music begins to play, the Librarian (Nathan Schmidt) makes his entry onto the intimate Pacific Theatre stage for Rosebud Theatre’s guest production of Glen Berger’s Underneath the Lintel. Performed in one act (at roughly 85 minutes), we see Schmidt fumbling with a screen, then a slide projector.

    There’s further futzing as he aims to set the projector at the proper angle; trying to plug it in provides yet another challenge, and so we’re introduced to this frenzied character as he goes about proving the existence of man through solving one long string of mysteries and coincidences.

    Schmidt makes almost immediate contact with the audience, settling us in for an intimate performance. What’s in that big wooden trunk to the side of the stage? Why, it’s filled with scraps (aka evidence), the first being an antique map that’s laid on the floor as our lead character gets to the business of piecing an enormous puzzle together, one that spans centuries.

    He works (or did work, before losing his job anyway) at a library in Hoofddorp, Holland; his daily task involved monitoring overnight library books returned through the library door’s slot. The one piece of property he escapes from that job with is a date stamper, significant in that it contains every date known to man — and the birthdates of everyone in the theater.

    Nathan Schmidt in Underneath the Lintel Nathan Schmidt in Underneath the Lintel

    The story begins after he discovers a 113-year-overdue Baedeker travel guide. He’s even more riled up at the fact that the book was put into the overnight bin while the library was still open. His frenzied pace remains so for the play’s duration. The next discovery is a 73-year-old claim ticket for a pair of trousers from a Chinese laundry shop in London. The pants are intriguing enough for this single librarian to head over to London for further exploration.

    The Librarian’s after getting to the bottom of a mystery that’s so complex (often involving nonsensical details), it takes him on a quest to faraway lands (including Germany, Australia, China, New York City and London) leading to new discoveries and yet more evidence. Director Paul F. Muir allows him to get out from a mundane life and to explore the world, away from the safety of our “Lintels” and to live fully. The fact that God may very well go to any length – even to the ends of the Universe – to get our attention is fully demonstrated as Schmidt scours the corners of the globe to solve his mystery.

    Underneath the Lintel is a frantic push towards making sense of life; what we mainly witness on stage is a man frustrating himself to no end trying to discover some great hidden meaning. Everything to him is a coincidence and keeps him on track to solving the mystery he’s evidently created for himself. A wandering soul himself, the Librarian seeks to find out whether the Wandering Jew actually exists as pieces of evidence continue to be displayed for the audience to bear witness.

    The simple stage (via Set Designer Jerod Fahlman) contains a black board, wooden chair, and the aforementioned trunk, adorned with stickers from around the globe. While Underneath the Lintel may begin as a compelling story (and to his credit, Schmidt puts in a passionate performance), it wasn’t enough to keep us captivated for very long. Imagine our surprise to learn that the production was voted among the Top 10 Plays of 2001 by Time Out NY Magazine. Chacun à son goût.

    Directed by Paul F. Muir, Underneath the Lintel continues at the Pacific Theatre through January 31.

    Photos by Emily Cooper.

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  • Jan16

    Knog qudos Action Video Light

    While GoPro video cameras are great for capturing outdoor action, it’s often hard to get good footage at night or in low-lit areas. I recently received a silver Knog qudos Action Video Light at CES, and this little powerhouse is ready to shine a light on your night and underwater adventures! I’ve reviewed several Knog cycling products in the past, but hadn’t yet tried their video light. Until now.

    Knog qudos Action Video Light

    The qudos fits side by side with your GoPro right on its own mount (included in the box). Along with a USB-rechargeable, replaceable Lithium Polymer (Li-Po) battery, qudos works with action cameras, digital SLR’s, and tripods. You’ll also get mount hardware (short and long), and two anti-vibration pads of varying sizes to place between the qudos and your camera as needed.

    Knog qudos Action Video Light

    The battery is accessed by opening the light’s back door. A USB cable then plugs right into the battery on one end and connects to a USB-powered source such as a laptop or USB wall charger on the other.

    I charged mine using GoPro’s own wall charger (a full charge takes about five to six hours).

    qudos action modes

    Comparable to using a bike light, the qudos cycles between six settings/three modes at the press of a button on top. Choose wide (400/225 lumens), target spot/narrow (155/100 lumens), and ultra-wide/ambient (270/70 lumens) beam angles, with recharge times dependent on how many lumens you put out in your video session. A maximum of 400 lumens power three CREE LED lights. The beam angle ranges from 72 degrees wide to 45 degrees narrow.

    Knog qudos Action Video Light Knog qudos Action Video Light

    Tech specs

    –  Constant Current LED Drive Technology2 prevents video flicker
    –  Electronic Temperature control (prevents overheating)
    –  Memory Mode returns to same light mode after unit is switched off
    – Made of marine-grade aluminum heat sink and faceplate, polycarbonate lens

    Knog qudos Action Video Light Knog qudos Action Video Light

    The icons on the top rear of the light refer to the three mode options: Action, Target Spot, and Ambient. A fourth icon on the far right indicates battery level. When the light is not used for extended periods (over two weeks), you can set the battery level to Storage Mode to preserve battery life. Once you’re ready to use it again, just fully recharge it.

    Knog qudos action light-1 Knog qudos action light-3

    While I got the qudos to easily mount onto my DSLR shoe (with the provided cold shoe adaptor), I was more interested in seeing the results with the qudos and my GoPro Hero3+.

    Here’s the YouTube-uploaded video, showing my recent creepy/foggy beach walk along Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach. And while the video I shot isn’t necessarily compelling subject-wise, my aim was to see how well the light would hold up to a very dark night. The rocks show some pretty decent detail (I was using the XShot Pro GoPro mount with both camera and light mounted onto it, held a few feet above the sand).

    Knog qudos action light-2 Knog qudos action light-4

    Water lovers: get excited. With its sealed rear battery door, this little baby (150 grams/5.29 oz) is waterproof to 40 meters (131 feet)!

    Knog qudos Action Video Light Knog qudos Action Video Light Knog qudos Action Video Light

    Available in either Midnight Black or Bulletproof Silver, qudos is compatible with GoPro 2, 3 and 4. It will also work with Sony action cams, Garmin VIRB, or any action camera with a GoPro conversion mount.

    Knog qudos Action Video Light

    I’m looking forward to snorkeling with the qudos and my GoPro Chesty mount and hope to include a link to some of my footage here in the future. Knog’s qudos retails for US $119 and is available online. Pre orders are now on for the Expose Smart, a high-powered video light for iPhones.

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  • Jan15

    Jenny Lopez, Jeremy Renner
    [New BFFs Jenny and Jeremy]

    While I don’t often report on pop culture, there are two events that happened this week that I just can’t get out of my head.

    Number One: On opening the Golden Globes award envelope for Actor in a TV Miniseries or Movie.

    “You want me to do it?” Jennifer Lopez asked.
    “I’ve got the nails.”
    “Yeah, you’ve got the globes too,” Jeremy Renner replied.

    That off-the-cuff remark has gained traction but jeez, people, get over it. If you’re going to dress with your glorious chest half exposed for the world to see, expect jokes. Jeremy meant it in good fun, and I love this actor, Lopez not so much. Either way, after having heard the joke, my husband and me knew that it’d likely get more airtime than necessary, and voilà, backlash.
    Continue reading »

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  • Jan15


    While perusing the Las Vegas Convention Center booths during last week’s International CES tech show, I came across GoPole, a third-party GoPro accessory company based in New Jersey.

    GoPole-10 GoPole-6 GoPole-5

    I’d been on the lookout for GoPole’s products since having reviewed their Grenade Grip last summer.

    The lightweight Reach is a similar product that extends from 14” to 40” (36 to 102 cm), and the best part? It has a clip to hold a GoPro wifi remote! This feature sold me on picking up a Reach for review.


    I’ve been alternating between my Lowepro AVC 1 and Tahoe 30 cases for toting the tiny GoPro camera, but when I’m out with the smaller Tahoe 30, there isn’t room for the remote. I hadn’t yet found an accessory with a handy clip for the remote — until now. The Reach solves two problems at once: an easy-to-grip rubber-handled extension pole and easy access for a wifi remote.


    The Reach includes a hi-torque thumbscrew for the GoPro or for compatible mounts.

    The wifi remote clip is also removable, so if you don’t own a wifi remote (or choose not to use one), it remains optional. Each of the four sections of the Reach is made secure by a quarter twist of that pole’s section.


    The included wrist strap screws into the bottom of the Reach, its wrist size adjustable via a clip. You can also connect a tripod in that 1/4” 20 threaded insert, adding even more flexibility.

    GoPole-8 GoPole-7

    The pivoting head allows for capturing 180 degree shots, whether you’re shooting video of the scenery ahead or getting your selfie on. I like the Reach’s lightweight feel, and plan on getting good use out of it alongside another product I’m currently reviewing, Knog’s Quodos action video light.


    GoPole’s Reach retails for US $54.99, comes with a lifetime warranty, and is available online and in Canada (CDN $64.99) at London Drugs.

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  • Jan14

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Boulevard
    [Boulevard’s winter green salad, root vegetable chips, heirloom beets, sherry vinaigrette]

    Already indulged in a festive holiday season? Save some room for Dine Out! The 2015 Dine Out Vancouver Festival’s about to kick off its 13th edition with culinary events, prix-fixe menus at three price levels at over 270 restaurants, and special Dine and Stay Packages for both locals and tourists alike.

    The festival promotes local and regional ingredients, BC wines, and our city’s exceptional culinary talent. From January 16 to February 1, discover some new faves and old haunts; Vancouver’s food-forward scene is definitely alive and well as I experienced last night during a festival media preview.

    Our dinner tour was themed Date Night for Lovers: Old-World Romance. After a wine and nibbles gathering at Chambar’s gorgeous new space, we were divided into groups and whisked off to various eateries around town — each destination remained a secret until we arrived, keeping our group guessing as to what “old-world romantic” restaurants we’d encounter on our tour.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Black + Blue
    [Black+Blue’s vodka apricot sour]

    First stop? Glowbal Group’s Black+Blue (think Old World and classic hearty dining), where a large table – including table-side drink service – was soon filled with samples from the restaurant’s $38 three-course dinner with optional Mission Hill wine paring ($25). I enjoyed a Vodka apricot sour mixed right beside our table!

    Appetizers feature a choice between beer, bacon & cheddar chowder and Stilton wedge salad, entrée choices include Black+Blue jerk chicken, braised lamb shank, and peppercorn-crusted AAA tenderloin, and to top off the meal, chestnut almond cake for dessert.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Black + Blue
    [Black+Blue’s braised lamb shank, vegetable tagine, jeweled basmati rice]

    There’s also the option to add either 1/4 lb. King crab, lobster tail, scallops, or lemon butter prawns to any entrée. I much enjoyed the hearty cheddar chowder and tenderloin; Black+Blue knows their steak!

    A quick walk over to our biggest surprise of the evening, The Urban Tea Merchant. This is a spot I’ve come to really enjoy for high tea, and the salon’s impeccable attention to detail, service, and presentation did not disappoint. Urban Tea is offering an eight-course Tea Gastronomy during Dine Out, all their dishes infused with the luxury Singapore tea brand’s finest loose leaf teas.

    Executive Chef Nathan Wright has a mighty fine array of teas at his disposal, to infuse into his dishes.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Urban Tea Merchant
    [Urban Tea Merchant’s Egg in a Nest]

    Cups of various teas were poured from the brand’s signature white tea pots as we sampled everything from Egg in a Nest (caviar, Tokyo-Singapore Tea smoked salmon custard, speck bacon, truffle aioli) to Camelot Tea & Sweet Potato Soup (one of our group’s favourite courses), with a colourful Pickled Carrot Salad paired with Jade of Africa Rooibos cocktail. Not only was each dish artfully presented but also paired with a distinct tea.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Urban Tea Merchant
    [Camelot Tea and sweet potato soup, crème fraîche]

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Urban Tea Merchant
    [Yunnan Tea crusted lamb chop, cauliflower textures, Yunnan FOP soaked raisins, fennel, almonds]

    A slightly smoky-tasting Russian Black Tea-scented ling cod is served alongside parsnip, pickled Beach mushrooms and Porcini.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Urban Tea Merchant Dine Out Vancouver preview/Urban Tea Merchant's Executive Chef Nathan Wright
    [Chocolate and peanut butter bar, New York Breakfast tea chocolate ganache, toasted peanuts, dulce de leche, raspberries; Chef Nathan Wright]

    A sinfully delicious Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bar capped off our tea adventure, containing New York Breakfast Tea chocolate ganache, toasted peanuts, dulce de leche, and raspberries for a sweet finish, paired with a remarkably delicate cup of Milk Oolong tea.

    This is a treat and worth seeking out during Dine Out; on January 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, and 31 there will be two seating times per evening, 5 and 7 pm. The Gastronomy is priced at $125 and includes a gorgeous boxed tea set to take home. A similar five-course menu is available for $85 (not including tea gift; both prices exclude gratuity and ticket fee).

    Our final destination was Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar at the Sutton Place Hotel. Chef Alex Chen has prepared a well-varied seasonal three course $38 menu including sunchoke velouté, winter green salad, or Albacore tuna tartare to start, Pacific provider salmon, squash risotto, or braised pork cheek as main options, and pavlova or chocolate torte to finish the meal.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Boulevard
    [Boulevard’s Pacific provider salmon, fregola sarda, chorizo, paella sauce]

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Boulevard
    [Squash risotto, pumpkin seeds, kohlrabi, crème fraîche]

    I was very impressed with both the sunchoke velouté and the Pacific provider salmon, simmering in a beautiful paella sauce, topped with a split pea and sprigs of greens. The squash risotto is just so gorgeous, with added buttery flavour courtesy of crème fraîche and naturally sweetened by the seasonal squash.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Boulevard
    [Chocolate torte, sponge, mousse, cocoa nougatine]

    Boulevard’s Dine Out wine pairing prices vary per course ($11 to $15/glass) and selection.

    Visit the Dine Out Vancouver Festival website for menus and reservations. A word of warning: book early as many popular time slots fill up!

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  • Jan13

    Motherload cast photo, Vancouver; photo by Itai Erdal
    [Motherload cast photo by Itai Erdal]

    In Motherload, an intimate account of parenting in the modern age, four prominent Canadian theatre artists and mothers bare their personal stories about what it takes to be a member of the world’s largest club. Drawing on candid playground conversations and parent-friendly coffee shop confessions, the moms take on isolation, “competitive mommying,” and poop.

    Sharing stories of the beautiful and sometimes brutal metamorphosis into parenthood, Motherload hopes to lighten the collective load!
    Continue reading »

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  • Jan12

    CES 2015 trade show booths-7

    I still recall the moment that I was invited to attend this year’s International CES®, opening the email on my iPhone while on a bus headed into downtown Vancouver.

    CES 2015 trade show booths-4 CES 2015 trade show booths-10

    This was no ordinary invitation, however. Several months back, I’d applied to – and was now officially accepted into – the CEA’s international journalist program. I was hand-picked to be one of 93 journalists representing 31 countries to attend the largest annual North American tech show, and was filled with anticipation (and giddiness) throughout the holidays.
    Continue reading »

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  • Jan9

    BOGS Classic Winter Plaid High boots BOGS Classic Winter Plaid High boots

    I’d been curious about BOGS’ colourful boot range for some time now. Their boots are purposefully designed to get wet while keeping your feet dry. Now that we’re in full winter mode, it was time to take a closer look at a pair of waterproof boots with warmth.

    While perusing the BOGS website, the Classic Winter Plaid High boots seemed right up my alley. Oregon-based BOGS has been in the business of creating boots built to withstand harsh conditions since 2002.

    BOGS Classic Winter Plaid High boots BOGS Classic Winter Plaid High boots

    Part of a collection including florals, solids, and plaids, the Classic Winter high boots are made of hand-lasted rubber with a four-way stretch inner bootie for warmth. They’re comfort rated to -40F/-40C, perfect for cold-climate treks. Continue reading »

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  • Jan7

    Feastro/Dirty Fries: Kennebec potatoes, pulled pork, BBQ sauce, onions, tomato, salsa, jalapeños, hold the lemon garlic aioli
    [Feastro’s Dirty Fries]

    Street Food City, Vancouver’s original street food pod, will return for a week-long pop-up during Dine Out Vancouver Festival. Now in its fourth year, Street Food City will take place from January 19 to 25 at Vancouver Art Gallery’s North plaza grounds.

    Showcasing more than 25 food trucks, Street Food City will be open to the public Monday to Thursday from 11 am to 3 pm and Friday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.
    Continue reading »

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  • Jan6

    Astronomical Clock
    [Astronomical Clock; photo by Erkki Kulovesi, on Flickr]

    Three of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited on my European travels are easily attainable on the same itinerary: Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. Each one of the iconic and historic cities is steeped in centuries of architectural styles, cultural institutions, and the arts.

    Though I visited Prague many years ago (discovering Vienna and Budapest more recently), I still recall walking across the Karluv Most (Charles Bridge) during different times of the day, admiring the quality of light bathing the city, as well as a stop at Old Town Square for a serious photo op at the medieval Astronomical Clock.

    After delighting in this curious clock, I took a good look around and noticed a mix of architecture, from Gothic to Art Nouveau, as varied as the colours of the buildings themselves.

    [Prague at Night; photo by peterjadams72, on Flickr]

    Old Town quarter is even lovelier all lit up in the evening with the Clock tower and Gothic spires of the Týn Church in the background, creating a fairy-tale like atmosphere. Find a café on the street and soak it all in!

    Prague (30 June 2007)
    [Prague’s Kozel beer; photo by joel tan, on Flickr]

    Prague also has a great pilsner tradition, and I enjoyed my fill of Budvar (the original Budweiser) at a few atmospheric pubs around the city with some newly-acquired travel friends. Service is very efficient, but be prepared to down large beer jugs with cheap but high quality pilsner. You might check in at Zly Casy beer garden or Pivovarský klub beer ’boutique’.

    The birthplace of pilsner awaits your visit.

    Austrian crown jewels at Schatzkammer, Vienna
    [Austrian crown jewels at Schatzkammer, Vienna]

    Vienna is filled with stately buildings, cafés, and museums; modern art fans shouldn’t miss MAK (Museum of Applied Arts). For an entire day of museum-hopping, the MuseumsQuartier Wien is one of the largest art and culture complexes in the world, combining historic buildings from the 18th and 19th century with contemporary museum architecture. Take advantage of one of several cafés in the courtyard during spring and summer.

    Hundertwasserhaus, Vienna
    [Hundertwasserhaus, Vienna]

    Another great reason to visit Vienna: 2015 celebrates 150 years of the Ringstrasse, marked by several celebrations and exhibitions throughout the landmark year.

    House Attack, Vienna
    [House Attack by Erwin Wurm, Vienna]

    Vienna Staatsoper
    [Vienna Staatsoper]

    Some of the city’s key beauties include Schönbrunn Palace, the Opera House, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. You’ll also marvel (as my husband and I did) at the insanely colourful and crazy Hundertwasserhaus. Get your Sachertorte fix at Hotel Sacher, opposite the Opera House.

    Hungarian Parliament Building from Buda side of Budapest
    [Hungarian Parliament Building from Buda side of Budapest]

    We were amazed by how Budapest caters to Western dining and lodging tastes. Before our arrival, thoughts turned to a run-down, outdated capital city, however once we settled into our centrally-located hotel, we headed to nearby Vörösmarty Ter to discover a city that fuses the Old World with the modern. You can find a mix of each in both Buda and Pest. Yes, the city is divided – literally – by its name and the Donau river.

    The Chain Bridge separates the two main parts of Budapest, each side offering a different experience. The entire city is one huge outdoor museum, so don’t forget your camera and good walking shoes.

    Budapest architecture

    On our many walks through town, we discovered some wonderful old coffee houses, several dating to the mid-19th century. Café Gerbeaud is one such place, located in Vörösmarty square, its white corinthian columns and gold lettering leading you into a stately room complete with chandeliers and an amazing array of desserts. Gerbeaud is considered one of Europe’s finest traditional coffee houses.

    Széchenyi Baths (Széchenyi fürdő), Budapest
    [Széchenyi Baths (Széchenyi fürdő), Budapest]

    For a true Budapest bath house experience, consider the popular Gellert Hotel, then get out to City Park via the old Russian style metro system and check out the Széchenyi Baths (Széchenyi fürdő) containing 18 pools, 15 of them spring-fed thermal pools. Once inside and on your way to the changing rooms, take a peek into some of the most incredible massage rooms dating to the late 1800’s with pieces of equipment that appear to have never left the building.

    There’s no photography allowed, however I did capture the above photo of the domed ceiling at the entrance, right before I noticed the “No Photography” sign.

    Liberty Bridge, Budapest
    [Liberty Bridge, Budapest]

    For all the sights I covered on my journeys, I recently discovered that Trafalgar Guided Tours and Vacations offers travellers authentic and unique tours, hitting both the highlights and the hidden treasures that each destination has to offer. In Vienna, for example, get a private insider’s visit at Vienna’s Habsburgs royal collection of art before it opens to the general public.

    The Hungarian State Opera House, Budapest
    [The Hungarian State Opera House, Budapest]

    Trafalgar Guided Tours takes care of the details for a hassle-free vacation, so you can enjoy more touring and less planning. They also take care of bag porterage and offer express check in at hotels.

    Grinzing, Austria
    [Grinzing, Austria]

    Local historians will guide you through each city’s gems for a deeper appreciation of what you’re seeing. Some restaurants are even closed during a Trafalgar group visit, for a cooking lesson or family meal. Accommodations are also more unique, avoiding sleeping in one chain hotel after the next. Visit the website for itineraries and for more information.

    Hungarian Parliament Building

    This article was produced in partnership with Trafalgar Guided Tours and Vacations.

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  • Jan6

    Samsung Keynote-2
    [Samsung CEO Boo-Keun (BK) Yoon]

    Samsung CEO Boo-Keun (BK) Yoon greeted a huge tech crowd last night at Venetian’s Palazzo Ballroom for his pre-show keynote address. The theme was the Internet of Things, focusing on how sensors in technology fit within our lifestyles.

    Many devices out there are ready to be part of the Internet of Things (IofT). Jeremy Rifkin, President, Foundation on Economic Trends, came on stage to discuss the paradigm shift occurring in technology, comprising new communication technologies, new sources of energy, and new modes of transportation.
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