• Dec18

    Chelsea Hotel cast photo, Vancouver
    [Chelsea Hotel cast]

    Mountains of crumpled paper showing hours of writer’s block, a sparsely-furnished city apartment containing a bed, dingy desk and chair, and lyrics to Leonard Cohen songs scribbled on the stage floor in white chalk: this is what theater-goers are presented with upon arrival at Firehall Arts Centre’s production of Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen.

    Chelsea Hotel is both a loving ode to Leonard Cohen’s vast catalogue as well as a multi-layered love story. A strong, talented, six-person cast takes the audience on a two-hour (with one intermission) exploration of Cohen’s contribution to the world of poetic music, beginning with the words “It’s been written on the walls of this hotel, you go to heaven once you’ve been to hell.” As the writer (Kayvon Kelly) scribbles on paper, his songs come to life on stage.

    Having recently celebrated his big 8-0, Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist Cohen has explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships in song for the past four decades. He’s been embraced as a true Renaissance man who crosses artistic borders through his expansive body of work.

    Rachel Aberle, Steve Charles, Marlene Ginader, Tracey Power, Ben Elliott, and Kayvon Kelly bring this four-time Firehall-premiered entertaining piece to Vancouver through dance, music, and a variety of instruments, including violin, harmonica, guitar, banjo, cello, drums, and keyboard. Oh yeah, and a few cleverly-posed kazoos (17 instruments in all!).

    Each one of the six cast members is allowed to shine here, however our standouts are lanky, comical Ben Elliott (Broken Sex Doll), Kayvon Kelly (Mother Teresa is Dead, The Graduate), and Marlene Ginader (The Buddy Holly Story).

    Chelsea Hotel cast photo, Vancouver

    Kayvon Kelly has a magnificent voice, as does Marlene Ginader. Ben Elliott’s glances and outfit are a fantastic match for his stature. He gets the most laughs, though the entire cast, as mentioned above, do a fine job from start to finish. Touches of burlesque add a sultry quality to Jessie Award-winning Tracey Power’s (Urinetown) highly creative and unique production, perfectly suited for the Firehall Arts stage.

    Dance Me Until the End of Love” is particularly charming, as is “Take This Waltz”. The second act kicks off with an electrified “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On”.

    First We Take Manhattan” was another winner. Softly melodic “Tonight Will Be Fine” was gorgeous. All songs wonderfully meld into one another, making for a colourful, soulful Cohen soundscape. Closing off the night is an introspective “Hallelujah”. Stunning.

    Steve Charles, Ben Elliott, Marlene Ginader, Lauren Bowler
    [Steve Charles, Ben Elliott, Marlene Ginader, Lauren Bowler; 2013 production photo by David Cooper]

    Some of the predominantly black and white wardrobe (designed by Barbary Clayden) also contains lyrics to Cohen songs. The set design (Marshall McMahen) cleverly reveals instruments and performers, while the lighting (Ted Roberts) adds depth and atmosphere to this well-oiled production.

    You don’t need to be a Cohen devotee to follow Chelsea Hotel, but you just might become one after having seen this show.

    What a treat to have Chelsea Hotel at our disposal here in Vancity. Don’t miss. Here’s an idea: Experience the Chelsea Hotel on New Year’s Eve. The Firehall is offering a fun evening of the show, food, and midnight champagne toast for $75 per person. Check out the website for details (tickets are limited).

    Directed and created by Tracey Power (a thousand thanks!), Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen continues through January 3 at the Firehall Arts Centre.

    Photos by Jillian Perry.

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  • Dec17

    Shangri-La Emperors Afternoon Tea-1 Shangri-La Emperors Afternoon Tea-2

    Shangri-La Vancouver has transformed its lobby and Xi Shi Lounge in honour of Vancouver Art Gallery’s current landmark exhibition, The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors.

    Shangri-La Emperors Afternoon Tea-3

    To celebrate the arrival of Beijing’s treasures, Xi Shi Lounge has created a special afternoon tea, a chance to explore the exhibit, and an exciting grand prize giveaway.

    Shangri-La Emperors Afternoon Tea-4 Shangri-La Emperors Afternoon Tea-6

    Available during The Forbidden City exhibition period (through January 11, 2015), indulge in the Emperor’s Afternoon Tea: a tea tower containing BBQ duck steam buns, vegetable spring rolls, egg and mustard cress salad, and smoked salmon bagels with tarragon and pear crème fraîche.

    Shangri-La Emperors Afternoon Tea-1 Shangri-La Emperors Afternoon Tea-7 Shangri-La Emperors Afternoon Tea-8

    Sweets include white chocolate and yuzu mousse, mango pudding, and candied ginger loaf with orange glaze, as well as afternoon tea classics such as butter and orange-infused scones with house made clotted cream and a selection of jams. We loved the orange marmalade and strawberry jams on the afternoon of our visit.

    You can select from 18 different tea sorts, from green tea with jasmine flowers to single estate Darjeeling tea.

    Shangri-La Emperors Afternoon Tea-10

    Emperors Afternoon Tea is be available daily from 11 am to 5 pm at $55 per person. Each Emperors Afternoon Tea purchase includes an express-entry ticket to The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors. Add a glass of sparkling wine ($10) or Louis Roederer Brut Champagne ($29) if you’re so inclined.

    Shangri-La Emperors Afternoon Tea-9

    To celebrate VAG’s exhibition, Vancouver’s Shangri-La Hotel also will send one lucky winner (that’s purchased an Emperor’s Afternoon Tea) and their equally-lucky guest to visit the Forbidden City in Beijing, China.

    The prize package includes:
    – Round-trip airfare for two to Beijing provided by Cathay Pacific
    – Four-night stay at the China World Summit Wing at Beijing’s Shangri-La
    – Airport ground transportation to and from the hotel
    – Daily buffet breakfast
    – Private tour of the Forbidden City

    Shangri-La Emperors Afternoon Tea-5

    The inviting lounge has a piano in the back with chandeliers and pink lighting, lots of windows for people-watching along Alberni Street, and a fully stocked bar for lingering after your’ve finished savouring the three tiers of delicacies. For more contest details, visit the Shangri-La Vancouver’s Facebook page.

    Shangri-La Vancouver is located at 1128 West Georgia Street.

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  • Dec16

    Boulevard Vancouver-1

    Boulevard Restaurant’s Executive Chef Alex Chen has just released a new brunch menu to greet the year’s end.

    Boulevard Vancouver-6

    The dishes he’s selected to showcase are spins on traditional favourites. Alongside Nutella-stuffed French toast and Eggs Benedict, chef Chen’s created a Korean rice bowl, an Oyama truffle duck sausage piazza, and Boulevard’s wild salmon chowder, complemented by Bar Manager Justin Taylor’s Hemingway Daiquiri, and signature Bellinis and Caesars.

    Boulevard Vancouver-2 Boulevard Vancouver-3

    After admiring a few beautiful Goh Ballet Nutcracker gowns in adjacent Sutton Place Hotel’s lobby, we entered Boulevard’s modern dining room that features sleek, white and bronze lighting fixtures suspended from classic rounded moulding on the ceiling and mounted as wall sconces.

    Boulevard Vancouver-4

    The Bellini (circa 1940 Venice, Italy; $14) contains a lovely soft peach that lingers on the palate. It’s created using Beefeater gin, peach liqueur, white peach purée, Bittered Sling Clingstone peach bitters, sparkling wine, and a large violette-infused ice cube that remains at the bottom of the glass.

    Boulevard cocktails: Hemingway and Bellini Boulevard wild salmon chowder
    [L to R: Hemingway daiquiri, bellini, wild smoked salmon chowder]

    Hemingway daiquiri (circa 1935, Havana, Cuba; $13) is a delight, mixed with Havana Club 3 Year Old añejo rum, maraschino liqueur, fresh lime, fresh grapefruit, and cane sugar syrup. This drink is obviously heavy on the alcohol, but the lime and grapefruit cut into it to create a refreshing cocktail.

    Wild smoked salmon chowder with fennel pollen, dill, and Cherry Lane farm potato ($12) was creamy and delicate with chopped clams and salmon accompanying the potato, with a not-too-heavy consistency typical of many chowders. Make sure to enjoy some of the freshly-baked baguette that’s ideal for dipping.

    Boulevard red and white quinoa salad with seared Albacore tuna

    Chen’s red and white quinoa salad is tossed with toasted pistachios, cranberries, ricola salata, and kale in a herb vinaigrette ($16) and is delightful, especially with my choice of having added a 5 oz. portion of seared Albacore tuna ($10) on top. This makes a perfect meal-sized salad and was appreciated along with sips of the bellini’s peach notes. In addition to Albacore tuna, you can top the salad with hanger steak, roasted prawns, or seared scallops ($12, $12, and $15 respectively).

    My husband enjoyed a glass of Benzinger 2012 Chardonnay ($18.50 glass/$74 bottle), a complex chardonnay with light apple and peach tones, accompanied by only a hint of oakiness. There’s a good selection cocktails, wines, aperitifs, and non-alcoholic drinks on Boulevard’s menu as well.

    Boulevard Korean rice bowl

    The Korean rice bowl is a perfect blend of sweat and sour kimchi with warm sesame-flavoured sticky rice, perfectly cooked free-range egg, and silky textured, mildly-seasoned wagyu Galbi sausage with hot sauce hidden underneath. Something totally different, making for a tasty Korean/Japanese fusion izakaya experience.

    Pastry chef Jason Pitschke creates scrumptious desserts worthy of saving your appetite for. He makes each of his creations look effortless, and they arrive at the table ready to indulge in. We noticed that both desserts (there are three in total available during brunch, the third option being a red velvet cake) contain complex layers of flavour.

    Boulevard Calamansi tart

    The Calamansi tart ($12.50) has dollops of pineapple meringue, custard, and “breton” style shortcrust, however that thin v-strip of lemon provides a bright, tangy burst on the palate, and underneath that square, a thin layer of caramel, the perfect finish to a shortbread — and a most wonderful surprise to discover after this lemon-forward treat.

    Boulevard Opera bar

    My husband ordered the opera bar, likely dedicated to both opera and chocolate lovers. This dessert has mocha and chocolate written all over it, created using Michel Cluizel Mangaro milk chocolate with 50% cacao from Madagascar, containing notes of exotic fruits, honey, and caramel. Add to that an espresso buttercream in the middle, finished with Gianduja (an Italian sweet chocolate spread invented in Turin) sorbet and dollops and trimmings of more chocolate. This enjoyable ending to his meal was heightened with a good, strong double espresso.

    Boulevard Vancouver-10 Boulevard Vancouver-9

    The ceilings are eye-catching with white moulding containing interlocking illuminated rings designed by Vancouver artist Ian Marsh. The twisty DNA-like room divider allows the space to flow while creating a division between the two main rooms.

    Boulevard Vancouver-5

    The bar holds court off to one side, with an adjacent (past the wine glass stock) marble counter-topped oyster bar, backed by a wall of box wooden shelves stocked with fresh breads of all shapes and sizes. Cream leather banquettes and black comfy chairs with wood tables are spread throughout the spacious restaurant. A couple of private rooms off to the back have been hosting parties and holiday gatherings on a regular basis, according to Boulevard’s manager.

    Lounge music streaming over the speakers was set to a low volume, allowing for conversation to be heard at a reasonable level.

    Boulevard Vancouver-11

    Ladies doing brunch at a table next to ours had just removed their fur coats to reveal pearls and weekend finery while a small group of friends at another nearby table were celebrating a birthday. This is a classy place to cap off the weekend or to celebrate a special occasion, with a well-tuned, attentive staff, enjoyed over cocktails and a fine meal.

    Boulevard offers brunch on weekends from 11 am to 3 pm. The restaurant is located at Sutton Place Hotel, 845 Burrard Street in Vancouver.

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  • Dec15

    PAFC Site Location

    Tomorrow, the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation will proudly break ground on their new multi-million-dollar facility. Designed to bring together state of the art resources for research, learning, information, assessment, and treatment, the Centre will provide care and support to those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder and individuals province-wide.
    Serving Autism and related disorders including ADHD, developmental disabilities, and learning challenges, the Pacific Autism Family Centre provides lifespan support, covering ages from six months to seniors. The project aims to serve families across BC, and especially benefit communities in BC’s interior, which severely lack support resources for families.

    Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia and Sergio Cocchia, Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation, Honorable Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status For Women, and Honorable Malcolm Brodie, Mayor of The City of Richmond British Columbia will preside over the ground-breaking ceremony.
    Pacific Autism Family Centre Groundbreaking
    Date: Tuesday, December 16, 3:30 pm to 5 pm
    Location: 1001 Hudson Avenue, Richmond

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  • Dec15

    The Shortest Day event banner

    The Shortest Day returns for a second year across the country on December 19, 20 and 21, with an outstanding program of new, classic, and award‐winning shorts by some of Canada’s most talented filmmakers.

    This year’s free event, a fun way for families and film lovers to celebrate the lead-up to the winter solstice on December 21, the shortest day of the year, features 27 shorts organized into three programs: Kids Under 8 (56 minutes), Family (88 minutes), and Comedy (13+, 99 minutes).

    The free screenings will be held in over 60 venues across Canada, not only in movie theatres but in cultural centres, community spaces, schools, hospitals, and public libraries—making the event accessible to as many cinemagoers as possible.

    Sunday Punch
    [Sunday Punch; Comedy program]

    Exhibition partners include the Halifax Central Library, Carlton Cinema (Toronto), Metro Theatre (Edmonton), Pacific Cinematheque (Vancouver), the Association des propriétaires de cinémas du Québec, and the Corporation des salles de cinéma du Québec.

    The Shortest Day was launched in 2011 by the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC) in France to celebrate an art form that has moved in exciting new directions in an age of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other popular mobile and social media platforms.

    Presented in over 50 countries, the event is sponsored in Canada by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Quebec’s Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), and Telefilm Canada.

    [Infanticide!; Comedy program]

    “We are incredibly excited to be ambassadors for this year’s English‐language films in The Shortest Day,” said actors/filmmakers Michael Seater (Bank$tas, Life with Derek) and Paula Brancati (Being Erica, Degrassi: The Next Generation) of BrancSeater Productions.

    “Our experience at Telefilm’s Not Short on Talent program at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where we screened our first short, Sly Cad, shed light on the vast talent of up-­and-­coming filmmakers that Canada has to offer. We are delighted with the variety of this year’s group of films and can’t wait to meet the filmmakers and celebrate the importance of this art form.”

    The films come from all regions of the country, from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia. From stop-­motion animation to live action and experimental works, new releases to Oscar-­winning classics, this year’s The Shortest Day program offers a rich and diverse selection of films guaranteed to entertain and delight.

    [Godhead; Family program]

    A few key highlights include:
    Godhead, Victoria, B.C.
    Writer/director Connor Gaston’s dramatic comedy about a mute boy with a powerful gift (a 2014 Toronto International Film Festival premiere)

    Infanticide!, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
    Writer/director G. Patrick Condon’s award­‐winning comedy about a couple looking for that perfect family was the winner of the Best Atlantic Short Award at the 2013 Atlantic Film Festival

    Josef and Aimée, Toronto
    Directed and co-­written by Ben Shirinian, this magical childhood love story about two children sent into hiding in the south of France during WWII is currently making the film festival circuit

    Little Brother [Petit frère], Quebec City
    Director Rémi St-­Michel’s comedy about a troubled 14-­year-­old boy premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival Critic’s Week

    A Mile in Those Hooves (Comedy program)
    [A Mile in Those Hooves; Comedy program]

    In Vancouver, The Shortest Day will take place at the following venues:
    – Pacific Cinematheque, 1131 Howe Street
    – Pacific Center, 701 West Georgia Street
    – Studio 16, 1555 West 7th Avenue

    Follow the action on Twitter using event hashtag #ShortestDay

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  • Dec15

    Mavi Jeans Yaletown-8
    [Mavi Jeans Yaletown]

    When Turkish native Arkun Durmaz moved to Canada from his native country, he likely had no idea that Mavi would become the global presence that it’s become to this day. Founded in Turkey in 1991, Mavi is known for their men’s and women’s jeans collection throughout the world, including at over 4,000 speciality shops, chains, and department stores. The word Mavi translates to blue in Turkish, very fitting for a denim company (pardon the pun).

    Mavi Jeans Yaletown-7

    Arkun began working at the tender age of 10 at his father’s textile store in Istanbul’s lively Grand Bazaar, serving tea and keeping an eye out for shoplifters. He then went on to receive his Bachelor of Commerce in Vienna, Austria as well as an MBA from the City University of Bellevue, choosing to stay involved in the fashion industry while studying by selling miscellaneous garments at the Vienna Flea Market. In other words, he never ever left the world of retail, bringing Mavi to Canada in 1997.

    Mavi Jeans Yaletown-10

    In Vancouver, Istanbul, Berlin, and Frankfurt alone, the global premium denim brand has over 260 stores and counting. Mavi’s first Canadian store opened in Toronto’s Eaton Centre; here in Vancouver, there’s one in Yaletown and a newer Kitsilano sister location on West 4th Avenue.

    Mavi Jeans Yaletown-12

    I visited the Yaletown flagship store earlier in the month to learn more about what Mavi’s been up to over the recent years. In addition to the regular Mavi jeans-wear collection, there’s now Mavi Gold and Mavi White Edge, both utilizing high-end, high-quality denim material that’s guaranteed not to shrink or lose its softness for years to come.

    Mavi Kerry jeans-1 Mavi Kerry jeans
    [Mavi’s super-soft Kerry jeans, in-store and at home!]

    Back in early 2000, while Mavi had already become a household name in the fashion industry, luxury lines such as 7 For All Mankind and Rock & Republic came onto the scene, driving up prices of boutique jeans. Mavi chose to stay the course with their affordable collection.

    A few years ago, the brand launched the Gold and White Edge lines, ranging in price from $115 to $160 (compared to Mavi regular with $88 to $100 price points).

    Denim washes change per season, and the Zack men’s jean has a great story behind it. The muscular, bulky Vancouver Canucks were looking for a roomy jean to wear, and Zack’s roomy in the thighs, nicely tapering around the knee. Once they discovered this great-fitting jean, the Zack non-officially became known as the Hockey Jean.

    Mavi Jeans Yaletown-9

    Walking through the shop, you’ll not only find jeans, but jackets, shirts, jewellery and other accessories. I tried three of their popular Gold label jeans: Ashley, Emma, and Kerry. Both popular Emma Slim Boyfriend jean and Kerry Mid-Rise Straight Leg models are perfect for tucking into boots this winter, while the wider-leg Ashley Boot Cut fits nicely over them.

    Mavi_textures Modeling Ashley, Emma, Kerry from Mavi Gold line
    [Bottom, L to R: modeling Ashley, Emma, Kerry from Mavi Gold line]

    I’ve been to Mavi on several occasions and each time I’m in there, the service is attentive, and advice honest. I wound up with the Kerry Mid-Rise, a soft-as-butter denim wash that hugs the waistline and is flattering in the legs and tummy. Mavi also offers a free hemming service at both shops.

    Mavi Jeans Yaletown-13

    ’Tis the season of giving, and I’ve partnered with Mavi Canada to offer one lucky reader a chance for a personal fitting session, and choice of any one pair of women’s or men’s jeans from the store.

    There are two ways to enter:
    1. Follow Mavi Canada and Vancouverscape on Twitter, and RT the following:

    Enter for a chance to win a private fitting session + pair of Mavi jeans from Mavi Canada + Vancouverscape http://ow.ly/Fk56a

    2. Follow Vancouverscape on Instagram and upload a pic of your favourite pair of jeans using hashtag #Maviholidays

    Extra entry if you do both :-)

    Mavi Jeans Yaletown-11

    I’ll draw a winner on Monday, December 29 at 5 pm. Winner must be able to visit either Mavi Vancouver store to claim their prize. Happy holidays and thanks for your continued support and readership this year!

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  • Dec12

    Culprit Coffee tasting plate
    [Culprit Coffee/Tasting Plates Kitsilano]

    Explore great restaurant-filled Vancouver neighbourhoods next month as Dine Out Vancouver and Vancouver Foodster bring six brunch crawls our way. Held on weekends between January 17 and February 1, the six self-paced tours are a wonderful way to discover hidden gems and soon-to-be favourite dining spots around town.

    Tasting dish at Bob Likes Thai Food
    [Tasting dish at Bob Likes Thai Food]

    Last year, Richard Wolak (aka Vancouver Foodster) produced two successful brunch crawls in Vancouver; this year he’s upped the game by offering six. If you’ve ever experienced Richard’s Tasting Plates events, you’ll be familiar with the format. Enjoy a variety of dishes that may include juices, smoothies and coffees, to eggs bennys, pancakes, french toast, omelettes, pulled pork, hash browns, bacon, seafood, desserts, and more.

    These brunch crawls make great gifts for the foodies in your life. Tickets are now on sale for all six brunch crawls, each focusing on over seven neighbourhood restaurants. Purchase tickets through Tickets Tonight via Dine Out Vancouver’s events page. Get out, try a new ‘hood, and discover!

    Carrot cake cookie
    [Purebread Bakery carrot cake cookie]

    Gastown Brunch Crawl
    Date: Saturday, January 17, 10 am to 2 pm

    Tickets: $40 Regular / $60 Club Amuse Bouche VIP
    Club Amuse Bouche VIP tickets include a VIP Gift Bag and Priority check-in at 9:45 am
    This brunch crawl will begin at Milano Coffee, 36 Powell Street, Vancouver

    Participants include some of Gastown’s finest restaurants, including Brioche Eatery Café, Milano Coffee, Salida 7, Jules Bistro, Purebread, LilyMae’s, and Jamaican Blue Cold Brew.
    Gastown Brunch Crawl’s community partner will be Gastown BIA.

    Krokodile Pear flight of juices
    [Krokodile Pear flight of juices]

    Kitsilano Brunch Crawl
Date: Sunday, January 18, 10 am to 2 pm

    Tickets: $40 Regular / $60 Club Amuse Bouche VIP
    Club Amuse Bouche VIP tickets include a VIP Gift Bag and Priority check-in at 9:45 am
    This brunch crawl will begin at Novo Pizzeria, 2118 Burrard Street, Vancouver

    Participants include Krokodile Pear, Novo Pizzeria, Darby’s Public House, Momento Coffee House, Rain or Shine Ice Cream, and more to be announced soon.
Kitsilano Brunch Crawl’s community partner will be Shop West 4th BIA.

    Fresh cranberry juice to start the morning - Rob Feenie breakfast at #CCFCC

    Main Street Brunch Crawl
    Date: Saturday January 24, 10 am to 2 pm

    Tickets: $40 Regular / $60 Club Amuse Bouche VIP
    Club Amuse Bouche VIP tickets include a VIP Gift Bag and Priority check-in at 9:45 am
    This brunch crawl will begin at Best Western Plus Uptown, 205 Kingsway, Vancouver

    Participants include Rosemary Rocksalt, Miura Waffles, Radicle Juice, Nirvana, East End Chai, and more to be announced soon.
    Main Street Brunch Crawl’s community partner will be Mount Pleasant BIA.

    Bella Gelateria's Raspberry Ale sorbetto - yum!
    [Bella Gelateria Raspberry Ale sorbetto]

    Downtown Vancouver Brunch Crawl
    Date: Sunday January 25, 10 am to 2 pm

    Tickets: $40 Regular / $60 Club Amuse Bouche VIP
    Club Amuse Bouche VIP tickets include a VIP Gift Bag and Priority check-in at 9:45 am
    This brunch crawl will begin at Kingston Taphouse & Grille, 755 Richards Street, Vancouver

Participants include Frankie’s Italian Kitchen, Kingston Taphouse & Grille, The Copper Chimney, Small Victory Bread & Coffee, Bella Gelateria Yaletown, and more to be announced soon.
    Downtown Vancouver Brunch Crawl’s community partner will be Downtown Vancouver BIA.

    Petite pistachio financiers

    West End Brunch Crawl
    Date: Saturday January 31, 10 am to 2 pm

    Tickets: $40 Regular / $60 Club Amuse Bouche VIP
    Club Amuse Bouche VIP tickets include a VIP Gift Bag and Priority check-in at 9:45 am
    This brunch crawl will begin at Marquis Wine Cellars, 1034 Davie Street, Vancouver

    Participants include Papparoti, Morocco West, Just juice, Marquis Wine Cellars, De Dutch Pannekoek House, and more to be announced soon.
    West End Brunch Crawl’s community partner will be West End BIA.

    Smoked Salmon pizza from Famoso's New World selection
    [Famoso smoked salmon pizza]

    Commercial Drive Brunch Crawl
    Date: Sunday February 1, 10 am to 2 pm
    Tickets: $40 Regular / $60 Club Amuse Bouche VIP
    Club Amuse Bouche VIP tickets include a VIP Gift Bag and Priority check-in at 9:45 am
    This brunch crawl will begin at Famoso Pizzeria, 1380 Commercial Drive, Vancouver

    Participants include Famoso Pizzeria, Federico’s Supper Club, Bakery Sate, Stateside Craft, and more to be announced soon.
    Commercial Drive Brunch Crawl’s community partner will be The Drive BIA.

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  • Dec11

    The Fish Shack brunch-8

    Glowbal Group’s The Fish Shack just launched a new brunch menu with some very tasty items for a weekend visit to the Granville Street restaurant. Brunch is offered here on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 am to 3 pm, enough of a time range to sleep in or get downtown before things get busy, particularly around this busy holiday season.

    The Fish Shack brunch-7

    The Panko-Crusted Lobster Benny ($14.95) caught my eye while my husband opted for the Prawn Po’Boy ($13.95) from the regular menu, also available in an oyster version.

    The Fish Shack brunch-4

    We found the oysters to be some of the freshest around, particularly for a Sunday morning, with a few types available on the day of our visit out of about 20 choices on the menu. Out of the four on the fresh sheet, we chose Kusshi, Read Island, and Sawmill Bay premium oysters ($2.95 each), finding a favourite in the Joyce Point (Read Island) oysters. Although both Joyce Point and Sawmill Bay are harvested from Read Island and are close in flavour profile, we preferred the Sawmill’s (slightly) more delicate, creamy texture and taste.

    The Fish Shack brunch-1 The Fish Shack brunch-6

    Oysters are served with a variety of sauces: shallot mignonette (red wine, shallots, herbs), ponzu (citrus vinaigrette), classic seafood cocktail, and hot sauce.

    The poached eggs atop the 1/2-pound PEI-sourced lobster tail combined amazingly well with the crunchy pecan and apple side salad. We found the Kennebec fries a tad too seasoned for our palates, though the potatoes were well prepared. We’re sure the kitchen could easily adjust the seasoning on a future visit.

    The Fish Shack brunch-10

    The shrimp po’boy comes served on a baguette with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and Old Bay aioli. Classic and filling, alongside a portion of Kennebec fries, and a glass of bubbly Henkell Blanc de Blancs NV.

    The Fish Shack brunch-9
    [A little *treat* from the chef between courses]

    Extra napkins were brought around by our attentive waitress just as she noticed me getting down to the nitty-gritty of my lobster tail.

    The Fish Shack brunch-5

    In addition to brunch bennys (including a vegetarian heirloom tomato, basil, and burrata cheese Caprese benny), there’s “The Rest”: Corn bread hash, Huevos Rancheros, Dungeness crab and egg white omelette, and milk and honey (vanilla Greek yogurt, tropical fruit salad, sugar-dusted waffles). All dishes range in price from $9.95 to $14.95 (for the lobster benny, which I highly recommend). Add a side of half avocado, tropical fruit bowl, or Cheddar cheese baked beans for $3.

    The Fish Shack brunch-3

    Fish from the daily sheet can be prepared either grilled or blackened. Several selections are also Oceanwise-sanctioned, keeping in line with sustainable fishing sold to many of our city’s restaurants. Regular menu items including salads, tacos, sandwiches, appetizers, and fish & chips are also available during weekend brunch hours.

    As for drinks, there’s a variety of Caesars, Marina Side cocktails, Fish Shack’s own mocktails, draught and bottled beers, and both BC and international red, white, and bubbly wines by the glass or bottle.

    Reggae and blues music played on the Fish Shack’s speaker system, and luckily not too loudly either, while TV screens above showed a variety of football games plus the MLS soccer final that morning.

    The Fish Shack brunch-2

    The Fish Shack is located at 1026 Granville Street in Vancouver. Visit their website for opening hours, detailed menus, and upcoming events.

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  • Dec11

    Mary Poppins cast

    Returning to the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage this holiday season is the colourful, popular classic Mary Poppins. A remounted Arts Club Theatre production from last year, the cast is back for this fun Broadway musical based on the Disney film and P.L. Travers’ 1934 novel.

    Sara-Jeanne Hosie is no stranger to the Arts Club stage, having performed in Disney’s Beauty & the Beast, Cabaret, A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline, and Swing. She brings Mary Poppins to life with a spring in her step and a smart attitude.

    Neatly dressed in red with a flower popping out of her bonnet, she graces the stage and is – for most of the two hour (plus intermission) show, its centerpiece. Her performance is truly practically perfect in every way.

    Mary Poppins cast

    A movable set designed by Alison Green unfolds before our eyes: the Banks’ Cherry Tree Lane home resembles an unfolded life-size doll house in hues of light blue, yellow, and white. Costumes nicely combine into the scenes, with lots of grey, white, and slate blue, later transformed into some of the most colourful, wicked dresses and suits imaginable, courtesy of Costume Designer Sheila White. The two-story home is filled with curios, books, and furnishings throughout.

    Craig Alfredson’s projections, along with Andrew Tugwell’s sound design add layers of atmosphere, while a torn letter flies up the chimney (plus many other cool effects) with the help of magic consultant Chris Stolz.

    Mary Poppins cast

    I marveled at the scenic transformation during Jolly Holiday, where statues come to life and actors don pink striped jackets and pink top hats. In Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, an acid/dreamlike palette of colours, letters slowly moving on the backdrop, and fantastic dancing. The hard-working cast get toe-tapping on London’s rooftops during Step in Time, another fun musical number to be wowed by.

    Graham Verchere, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Kassia Danielle Malmquist
    [Graham Verchere, Sara-Jeanne Hosie, Kassia Danielle Malmquist]

    Sara-Jeanne Hosie has a magnificent voice. Together with Scott Walters (Bert) and the children (Graham Verchere and Kassia Danielle Malmquist), all vocal talents shine through and are well matched to pair with Hosie’s.

    Shane Snow as ditzy Robertson Ay also entertains, as does Katey Wright playing both evil Miss Andrew and Mrs. Corry.

    Shane Snow, Sara-Jeanne Hosie
    [Shane Snow, Sara-Jeanne Hosie]

    Mention must also be made of Susan Anderson’s sweet voice in the role of Bird Woman. Although she also portrays Mrs. Brill, her shining moment is during the number Feed the Birds, as she gently offers birdseed to passersby in the park, dressed in tatters, yet seemingly content with her lot in life.

    Musical Director Bruce Kellett and a five-piece orchestra work behind the scenes, taking a bow via video post-show. The cast received a well-deserved, rousing standing ovation on opening night.

    Important lessons are learned, and the tale comes to a happy ending as Mary Poppins flies through the air. Wait until you see what the Arts Club Theatre’s got in store with this one! You won’t leave disappointed. A fun show to treat the family to over the holidays.

    Directed by Bill Millerd, Mary Poppins continues at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage through January 4, 2015.

    Photos by David Cooper.

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  • Dec10

    Cannery Brewing L'Orage Noir Belgian dark strong beer

    Cannery Brewing’s newest beer, L’Orage Noir, which translates to Black Storm, is the latest limited release in the Artisan Creations series from Penticton’s Cannery Brewing.

    We found the L’Orage Noir a wonderful weekend sipper; at 9% alc./vol., it’s a dark red beer with a nice complex mix of yeast and barley malt. This powerhouse brew also happens to be Cannery’s strongest beer to date.

    According to Cannery’s head brewer Ross Thompson, the L’Orage, an Abbey-style Belgian dark strong ale, focuses on unique flavours created by Belgian yeast and Candi sugar.

    LOrage Noir Label
    [L’Orage Noir photo by Caillum Smith, Preserved Light Photography]

    Available as a limited release, L’Orage Noir is available throughout BC. Find it in Vancouver at Liberty Wines Point Grey, Hastings Liquor Store, Firefly Fine Wines, Darby’s, and Legacy Liquor Store, and in Victoria at Cook Street Liquor Store, Hillside, James Bay Spinnakers, and Liquor Planet.

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  • Dec10

    Fjallraven popup store Chinatown-5

    Think the small town of Örnsköldsvik, Sweden is known only for grooming NHL hockey stars? In 1960, Örnsköldsvik resident Åke Nordin founded outdoor adventure goods company Fjällräven in the family basement.

    Nordin built his first framed backpack in his basement with his mother’s sewing machine. Using strong cotton fabric for the pack, he attached the wooden frame using leather straps and used calfskin for the support straps. Not only was the pack more comfortable and distributed weight evenly, it also increased ventilation between his back and the pack.

    Soon after, during a trip up North, his invention caught the attention of the indigenous Sami people who spent weeks at a time high up in the mountains. They asked Nordin to build them a backpack and after that a tent. Fjällräven had found its beginning.

    Fjallraven popup store Chinatown-4

    Since then, Fjällräven has made a commitment to high quality, well-designed products, while staying true to its mission of developing timeless, functional, and durable outdoor equipment.

    The Swedish-based company currently has a presence in over 30 countries worldwide.

    Fjallraven popup store Chinatown-2

    Fjällräven’s pop-up shop just launched at 434 Columbia Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown, focusing on a curated selection of long-time favourites. Stock up on the brand’s iconic Kånken backpack, their signature Greenland Jacket, and select unisex accessories.

    Fjallraven popup store Chinatown-3

    One thing I noticed at the launch party last night: there’s a Kånken colour to suit any wardrobe!

    Fjallraven popup store Chinatown-1

    Store hours are Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm, and Sundays, noon to 5 pm. Fjällräven will remain open through December 31 at @thisopenspace, a popular rotating Vancouver storefront that’s hosted over 70 pop up concepts to date.

    Fjallraven popup store Chinatown-7

    Fjällräven’s flagship store is located at 147 West Broadway on Vancouver’s Westside.

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  • Dec9

    Cannery Brewing Maple Stout beer

    Penticton BC-based Cannery Brewing Company’s Maple Stout is the ideal fall/winter seasonal brew.

    Right at the nose, we detected maple sugars and caramel. This dark brown-coloured stout (5.5% alcohol) won the Gold Medal in the Special Honey/Maple Lager or Ale category earlier this year at the 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards.

    Cannery Brewing Maple Stout

    Natural maple contributes to the beer’s soft, smooth feel, suitable for beer lovers seeking a sweet and mellow stout.

    Maple Stout is available in 650ml bottles at government and private liquor stores throughout BC as well as on tap.

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  • Dec9

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver Tableau Bar and Bistro

    The Loden Hotel is situated where Downtown Vancouver greets Coal Harbour. This beautiful luxury class boutique hotel has recently been named Best Hotel in Western Canada by Condé Nast Traveller’s 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards, and with good reason.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    From a yoga-inspired Garden Terrace room complete with a sweet little terrace, yoga mats, and blocks, to a room with two large floor-to-ceiling window walls looking out onto the world, all 77 rooms and suites at the Loden are comfortable oases for travellers seeking both quality and style in a hotel.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The bathrooms are marble-tiled and sleek and stocked with Moulton Brown luxury bath amenities.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    You’ll also find gorgeous Dornbracht and Philippe Stark fixtures, waterfall soaker tubs, and rainfall showers here.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver
    [Dornbracht’s Deque waterfall bathtub faucet]

    We decided to live like a tourist in our own town during this holiday season, enjoying dinner at Tableau Bistro next door, and nourishing our winter skin with an infrared sauna session the next morning.

    Just a couple of streets away and you’re at Canada Place; walk in the opposite direction for Robson Street shopping just west of Burrard.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    We found the complimentary wifi to be pretty speedy and reliable. A full fitness studio as well as the Loden Spa with infrared sauna can be found on the second floor. A small business workstation room is also located on this floor.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The second floor is also known as the Serenity Floor, with garden terrace suites that feature a little buddha to keep you company while enjoying a cup of herbal tea. These rooms also come with yoga props and mats for a good stretch after a day of walking the city or arriving from a long journey.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The beds are super comfortable! Goose down duvets and feather pillows made us hesitant to leave the room the next day but luckily we reserved an infrared sauna session to get our morning going.

    The staff are very outgoing, friendly, and helpful with tips on what to see and do in town. For a city hotel, the Loden has the advantage of being located on Melville, one of the city’s less busy streets. We didn’t make use of the complimentary bikes nor the car service, both obviously great options for getting around.

    Rooms are of a decent size so that we weren’t constantly in one another’s way. The large work desk space incorporates one of the most comprehensive ‘tech bars’ I’ve ever seen, with audio jacks, USB ports, several outlets, and wired internet cable outlets.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The lobby is equally sleek and modern, with free Nespresso coffee and TWG speciality tea service in the morning. Take your drink to go or bring it up to your room with a complimentary morning paper delivered to the door.

    Bringing a pet? The Loden offers custom beds and dishes, freshly-baked treats at turndown, Modern Dog Magazine, and a doggie clean up kit, so your pooch also gets pampered. We also received turndown service, with chocolates at our bedside and a carafe of fresh water.

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Duck foie gras, grilled artichoke, brioche
    [Duck foie gras, grilled artichoke, brioche]

    Next door at Tableau Bistro and Bar, Executive Chef Marc-André Choquette prepares seasonal dishes alongside daily favourites such as braised short ribs, pork chops with herb spaetzle, and Meatless Monday specials.

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Pork tenderloin, seasonal veggies
    [Pork tenderloin, pomme purée, green beans, served with a peppercorn sauce]

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Orecchiette pasta with short rib, tomato, kale
    [Orecchiette pasta with short rib, tomato, kale]

    On our visit, we enjoyed pork tenderloin (with pomme purée and green beans, served with a peppercorn sauce), and pasta and short ribs, with tomato, olive, and kale. Both were well-seasoned and beautifully presented.

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Tart tatin, cinnamon anglaise, walnut tuile
    [Tart tatin, cinnamon anglaise, walnut tuile, vanilla bean gelato]

    Don’t miss the tart tatin, it’s gorgeous, served with a walnut tuile cookie, cinnamon anglaise, and a small scoop of vanilla bean gelato.
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  • Dec8

    Kaitlin Williams, Diana Squires, John Voth, Pete Church
    [Kaitlin Williams, Diana Squires, John Voth, Pete Church]

    The holiday season is the perfect time for a play that features an angel showing a compassionate, but despairing and desperate man what life would have been like if he had never existed.

    It’s a Wonderful Life, the 1946 Frank Capra film set in the small city of Bedford Falls, N.Y. near the end of World War II, and starring James Stewart as George Bailey, is a staple of holiday television schedules, and for many a seasonal viewing tradition. What’s remarkable about It’s a Wonderful Life is how well it’s held up over the years, together with other classic films such as Casablanca or The Third Man: films that improve with familiarity.
    But what if you could only hear rather than see the classic film? In this Pacific Theatre production, the movie has been transformed by Peter Church into a script-in-hand 1940’s radio show (Mr. Church also performs the part of Clarence the angel). The Pacific Theatre allows us to take a step back in time as the beloved holiday-season drama is brought to life as a radio broadcast from the “golden age of radio”, with the theatre audience as a live studio audience.

    Brandon Bate, Kaitlin Williams, John Voth
    [Brandon Bate, Kaitlin Williams, John Voth]

    The alley-style theater lends itself well to this type of production as the seating is arranged in two wings with the stage in the middle, allowing for a inherent sense of intimacy not always possible in more traditional seating arrangements.  

    The cast is uniformly excellent, but special mention is required for John Voth who, as George Bailey, must carry the action. Mr. Voth is a tall, imposing man who is front-and-centre wherever he appears on stage. Some actors play three to four characters and must change their voices and mannerisms to fit each role. The play calls for approximately two dozen separate characters plus ensemble scenes, played by nine different actors.

    John Voth, Kaitlin Williams, Peter Church, Diana Squires
    [John Voth, Kaitlin Williams, Peter Church, Diana Squires] 

    But this production is not only a radio play, it is a radio show as the title makes clear. Actors must not only play their scripted roles, but also shift into songs, old-fashioned radio commercials, jingles, and as required, sound effects. 

    As well as moving seamlessly from one role to another and reading their lines directly from hand-held scripts, the cast must constantly navigate around each other and a set anchored by several authentic-looking microphones. This is a tribute to the smooth direction of Sarah Rodgers and Stage Manager Shelby Bushell. Like a real and professional radio show, the timing is perfect and the audience remains thoroughly engaged throughout.

    Kirsty Provan, Diana Squires, Kaitlin Williams
    [Kirsty Provan, Diana Squires, Kaitlin Williams]

    Most impressive as well is the ensemble singing on commercials (Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, Lux soap) and on hits of the World War II era (Guy Lombardo’s Managua Nicaragua and the Andrews Sisters’ Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree) by the trio of Kirsty Provan, Diana Squires, and Kaitlin Williams, ably backed up by the male cast members. And when one speaks of singing, special mention must be given to the wonderful voice of Chris Lam.
    The technical aspects are crucially important to the success of this production: the sound effects created by a sound artist on stage, the piano player, the costumes and hair styles of the period, the lighting of the set, the props.

    The technical team of Phil Miguel (Technical Director), Amy McDougall (Set and Costumes Designer), Kougar Basi (Lighting Designer), Rick Colhoun (Sound Patterns Designer), and Joel Stephanson (Pianist and Music Director) each bring their talents to bear in exactly reproducing a radio studio of the era. There are some really nice small touches. I especially noted the nylon stockings with the seams up the back — and the pumps. 

    The movie is based on a story The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern. George learns from Clarence the angel that the greatest gift we bring is friendship and the ability to make a difference in the lives of other people.

    John Voth, Kaitlin Williams
    [John Voth, Kaitlin Williams]

    In the end, it is the humanity of the characters and the eternal truth of the message of this piece that so well embodies the spirit of Christmas. And thanks to this excellent ensemble cast, the audience can readily imagine both their emotions and their adventures as they read their scripts over the microphones, just like listening to a real radio broadcast.  
    So instead of staying at home in front of the TV, come out to the Pacific Theatre. Bring your family, and discover that there’s a reason why the classics are the classics, and why an angel get its wings every time a bell rings.   

    It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show continues at the Pacific Theatre through December 30.

    Photos by Ron Reed.

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  • Dec8

    Janet, Theo, Wendy, Gaelan, Britt
    [Jarret Curtis Cody, Theo Budd, Wendy Bollard, Gaelan Beatty, Britt MacLeod]

    Gateway Theatre’s romantic musical offering of the holiday season is a delightful triumph. Crazy for You is crammed with exuberant dance numbers, addictive show tunes, rigorous choreography, and razor-sharp dialogue. The intensity and vigor of the entire cast never waned, delivering eye-popping punches during act one and then a knock-out, jaw-dropper finale.
    The initial Broadway production premiered at the Shubert Theatre in 1992. It was an immense success, winning the Tony Award for Outstanding Musical that year. Little surprise as the music and lyrics were composed by the gifted Gershwin brothers, George and Ira. 

    George grafted his own indelible flavour of rhythms into jazz tunes while Ira penned unforgettable lyrics. Together they churned out catchy swing-style melodies that hooked audiences around the globe. The fertile imagination of playwright Ken Ludwig coherently binds the show together with a sprinkling of his witty repertoire and mad-cap hijinks. The final product is a hilarious, non-stop roller-coaster musical that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.
    The plot of Crazy for You is no head-scratcher. In fact, it’s filled with stereotypes and trifling situations. Rich banker’s boy, Bobby Childs (Gaelan Beatty) longs to dance on Broadway and attempts to audition for the Hungarian impresario, Bela Zangler (Jonathan Holmes). 

    When he fails to impress, Bobby’s ogress of a mother (Wendy Bollard) prods him to deal with the family business of foreclosing on a property in Deadrock, Nevada. He agrees to go, hoping to appease her and to escape his nagging soon-to-be-ex fiancée, Irene (Britt MacLeod). 

    Kate Blackburn and Follies
    [Kate Blackburn and Follies]

    In Deadrock, he finds the damsel of his dreams, Polly (Kate Blackburn) and hatches a scheme to save her doomed theatre and the middle-of-nowhere-town. Sorry for all the spoilers, but most audiences aren’t attending for the wafer-thin storyline. Instead they are served heaping helpings of slap-happy good times by an unstoppable cast with infectious energy. 
    Director Barbara Tomasic masterfully weaves the glitz and glamour of the swinging 30’s into her production. Under the grand span of her artistic wings explodes a dazzling cast, a band of high-calibre musicians, and ravishing costumes, all housed in an incredibly slick set. Marshal McMahen’s stage is sensational to view, as distinct venues morph seamlessly into each other. 

    The simplicity of glowing lights to portray New York City gives way to azure skies in Deadrock, Nevada. The mood is enhanced by John Webber’s savvy lighting transitions. Musical director Christopher King ensures that the precise orchestra never misses a beat through all the demanding rhythmic numbers while Bradley Danyluk deftly oversees the other sound effects. 

    Slap That Bass
    [Slap That Bass]

    Costumer Carmen Alatorre demonstrates crackerjack proficiency in her use of hues and textiles. Rich brocades, gleaming taffeta, luxurious furs, crisp cotton, and many other fabrics swing to the tempo of exhilarating choreography (Julie Tomaino). 

    During high-intensity all-cast numbers such as Slap That Bass and I Got Rhythm, the performers swirl into an intoxicating kaleidoscope of colour. 
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