• Feb27

    2015 VIWF Tasting Room-1

    It’s officially Shiraz Week in Vancouver, as Australia takes the stage at the 37th Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival with a global focus on Syrah and Shiraz wines. There are 55 Australian wineries from several regions to choose from this week at the Acura Tasting Room.

    2015 VIWF Tasting Room-2

    As usual, heading through the Vancouver Convention Centre West can be a daunting experience as the crowds build, wine glasses in hand, to sample from a multitude of wines from around the world.

    This year, we decided to spend some time in the Australia area and get our fill of several varietals before moving on to South Africa, stopping to sip two wines from a Croatian winery making its first-ever appearance at VIWF. We’ve highlighted a few favourites here. Hopefully you’ll discover a few of your own!

    2015 VIWF Tasting Room-3

    Don’t forget to drink responsibly. As you collect your coat after the tasting, there’s a booth a little further on, offering free transit tickets for a safe ride home. Here’s to another successful year of wine tasting!

    Quarisa Wines | 30 Mile Shiraz 2012 ($14.99)
    Johnny Q wants his wines to have flavour, and this approachable Shiraz with mint and black fruit on the nose is nice and spicy with a buttery, velvety aftertaste on the palate. It’s less sweet than a typical Shiraz too.

    2015 VIWF Tasting Room-6
    [Fourth generation family wine maker William Hardy]

    Hardys Wines | William Hardy Barossa Valley Shiraz 2012 ($24.99)
    This fifth-generation family winery dedicates a wine to each family member per decade — this one celebrates William Hardy’s 40 years in the business. The wine’s got a good hit of vanilla and spice, rich plum, and a savoury element to it. It’s also less fruity than your average Shiraz.

    2015 VIWF Tasting Room-7

    Gemtree Vineyards | Moonstone McLaren Vale Savagnin 2014 ($15.99)
    Gemtree is a certified organic and biodynamic winery. The Savagnin grapes are related to the Traminer grape and were planted at Gemtree 10 years ago. This lightly structured wine has floral notes with apple, a bit of white pepper, and a nice citrusy flavour.

    Turkey Flat Vineyards | Turkey Flat Rose 2014 ($26.99)
    This freshly-balanced Barossa Valley wine contains mostly grenache with a bit of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Dolcetto grapes adding both spice and tannin to this wine. It tastes lovely chilled.

    VIWF wine bottles

    Brothers in Arms Winery | No. 6 Shiraz ($25.99)
    No. 6 celebrates six generations of family winemaking. This 100% Shiraz wine was developed to stand out from the rest of the crowd amongst store shelves back home by way of a colourful yellow and red label. It’s a balanced, smooth, and easy-drinking Shiraz with blackberries, plum, and juicy red currant. Langhorne Creek has an advantageous Maritime climate; its grapes have time to truly ripen on the vine.

    Heemskerk Winery | Abel’s Tempest Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2011 ($29.99)
    Yep, you heard that right: this Tasmanian wine combines both Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%) grapes for a lush, drier wine with floral bouquet notes that work together with the bubbles. It also has a honeycomb/citrus base for a refreshing acidity on the palate.

    Vancouver Wine Festival Tasting-6
    [Don’t forget to nibble!]

    After a food break to reset my palate, I found two lovely South African wines and an amazing Croatian red.

    Spice Route Winery | Chakalaka 2012 ($32.99)
    Produced in the Swartland region, this 29% Syrah, 29% Mourevedre, 13% Grenache, 13% Carignan, 8% Tannat and 8% Petite Sirah blend is robust and spicy, with a fusion of flavours including black cherries.

    The Grape Grinder | The Wild Olive Rosé 2014 ($13.99)
    This flavourful 2014 Silver Michelangelo International Wine Award winner’s got 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, its grapes grown in South Africa’s Coastal region.

    Stina | Plavac Mali Remek Djelo 2009 ($199.99)
    Croatian-based Stina winery is Croatia’s top wine producer, located on Brac Island, nestled against the Adriatic sea. The Remek Djelo is the winery’s top red, and considered its masterpiece. The grapes spend two years in new Slavonian oak barrels and then another year cellared in bottles. This is one classy red, and perhaps I’ve expensive taste in wine, however the wine is so complex, rich, and well-spiced with lots of tannins and cherries, plums, and blackberries, that I don’t doubt it will age fantastically. Only 3,000 bottles were produced, so it’ll likely become highly sought after.

    2015 VIWF Tasting Room-5

    Here are several more from the evening tasting:

    Unsworth Vineyards | Allegro 2013 ($20)
    A delicate and floral white wine with a nice acidity. This blend of Petit Milo and Epicure grapes produce a one-of-a-kind taste sensation. These varieties are created by Unsworth and are only available on Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley. Purchase directly from the winery (250.929.2292).

    Nk’Mip Cellars | QwAM QwMT Chardonnay ($25)
    This soft and creamy Chardonnay with a rich and nutty flavour stands out from the Okanagan crowd, offering a nice lingering mineral finish and good value.

    Giesen Wines | The Brothers Sauvignon Blanc ($26)
    This complex dry white wine with lingering grassy notes compares to a high quality Spätlase but with the faint and refreshing hint of a New Zealand grassy Sauvignon Blanc. Strong quality finish and a joy in the mouth, plus a great value at $26.

    Parker Coonawarra Estate | Parker Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2013 ($28)
    Parker’s a classic Coonawarra region Shiraz: we tasted the intense warmth and ripeness of the Syrah grape in this very elegant and not-too-spicy wine.

    Jacob’s Creek | Double Barrel Shiraz ($19.99)
    This full and generous wine contains nice vanilla and chocolate tones. Aged in French and American oak and finished off with aged Scotch whisky barrels, the Double Barrel Shiraz has a unique almondy and complex finish. Available in Vancouver this fall and worth the wait as this wine will retail for $19.99 – best value of show, if you ask us.

    Weingut St. Urbans-Hof | 2011 Ockfener Bockstein, Spätlase Riesling ($45)
    Sweet and delicate candy in your mouth, pure joy and decadence, this riesling will only improve with intensity over the years (best from 2014 through 2034). The slate and terroir are unique to the Mosel region in Germany. A special-occasion white, the Spätlase Riesling was crowned 93 points by Wine Spectator.

    2015 VIWF Tasting Room-4

    The Vancouver International Wine Festival Tasting Room is open for tasting sessions tonight (7 to 10 pm), Saturday afternoon (3 to 5 pm), and Saturday evening (7 to 10 pm). Note that all sessions except for Saturday afternoon are completely sold out.

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  • Feb27

    2015 Dew Tour Amateur Series

    The Dew Tour Am Series, North America’s premier amateur ski and snowboard competition, is returning to Canada next month. The two-day competition will take place at Sun Peaks Resort in Sun Peaks British Columbia and will feature a brand new Big Air competition as well as the signature Slopestyle event.

    Ski and board fans are encouraged to stop by Sun Peaks Resort all weekend for athlete meet-and-greets, Mountain Dew sampling, prizing, live DJ’s and more.

    According to Neetu Godara, Mountain Dew Canada’s Marketing Director, “Canada is stacked with amateur ski and snowboard talent and we’re proud to be able to give them the tools they need to elevate their performance. With $30,000 in prize money to be won, the Dew Tour Am Series is truly one of the top amateur events in the country.”

    Mountain Dew will cap off the weekend with two excellent concerts featuring top musical talent by Tokyo Police Club and Mother Mother. Tokyo Police Club will perform on Friday evening and Mother Mother on Saturday (both shows start at 7:15 pm at the Mountain Dew Stage).

    Ready to get into the action? Check out the Dew Tour Series competitor and registration pages.

    Dew Tour Am Series
    Dates: March 27 and 28 (ski events Friday, snowboard events Saturday)
    Venue: Sun Peaks Resort, bottom of Sundance Express Chairlift
    Prizing Mechanism: Jam Format/Single Best Trick Contest
    Discipline: Slopestyle and Big Air
    Prizing: Slope Style, $20,000; Big Air, $10,000 (shared equally amongst male/female competitors)
    Athletes: 10% invited; 90% registered (male and female); Open to all North American athletes 13 years and older on event day

Note the following eligibility requirements:
    If you have competed in a Dew Tour event, including Open Qualifiers, you are considered a professional. The only exception would be if you have ever received a special invitation from the Dew Tour (as an amateur) and have maintained your amateur status.

    If a sponsor is providing you with financial compensation above and beyond that which covers travel and event expenses, you are ineligible to compete as an amateur athlete in DTAS. The Competition Jury will confirm an athlete’s amateur status prior to the contest and will notify participants if they are ineligible to compete. The Competition Jury reserves the right to disqualify an athlete at any time if they do not adhere to the guidelines stated above.

    Get social!
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/mountaindewcanada
    Twitter: www.twitter.com/dewcanada
    Instagram: www.instagram.com/dewcanada
    Hashtag: #DewTourAmSeries

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  • Feb26

    American Tea Room-4

    We’re always on the lookout for gourmet, quality loose-leaf teas. I recently did some searching online and discovered Beverly Hills-based American Tea Room. In business since 2003, the tea shop has won awards for its store design and products as well as shout-outs from Newsweek to Oprah. The product line has grown to accommodate an international clientele with a wide variety of teas and gifts to match.

    American Tea Room-3

    American Tea Room sources teas and tea ware from around the world, making them available to both Los Angelenos and online shoppers (sadly I moved from LA to San Francisco in 1990 so have yet to visit their shop).

    American Tea Room-2

    The collection includes rare single estate teas, whimsical rooibos blends, matcha, USDA Certified Organic teas, Earl Grey blends and more. American Tea also has a strong design aesthetic as I found from their packaging and brand identity. Teas are shipped in red-tissue-lined boxes; the packages contain ziplock-style closures for storing in a cupboard or in tea tins.

    In addition to gourmet teas, they also stock a curated selection of teacups, teapots, matcha bowls and custom tea-scented soy wax candles, plus gourmet foods, chocolates, and jams from Valerie Confections and organic Hawaiian honeys.

    American Tea Room-1

    We tried two premium green teas, one green/white blend, a premium white, three botanical infusions, and two premiums reds.

    American Tea Room: Extreme Vanilla tea

    Extreme Vanilla (Premium Organic Green) – The deep, rich vanilla taste of this tea leads to the gentle aroma of Bancha leaves. We found that this tea imparts a slight nuttiness when brewed, but not bitter as in some green teas. Extreme Vanilla uses three types of hand-cut vanilla beans from Madagascar, Tahiti, and Indonesia.

    American Tea Room: Nirvana tea

    Nirvana (Premium Organic Green) – You can smell this lightly caffeinated tea’s fruitiness from the moment you open the package. The berries and kiwi really stand out in this Japanese Sencha green blend. Fruit rises to the surface and expands with an aromatic burst in your teapot.

    American Tea Room: Bliss tea

    Bliss (Premium Organic Green/White tea blend) – This one’s really sweet and bursts with pomegranate flavour upon brewing. Bliss tea includes both green and white teas blended with pomegranate, dragon fruit, and a hint of lemongrass, creating a smooth blend that’s perfect for morning sipping.

    American Tea Room: La Vie en Rose tea

    La Vie en Rose (Premium Organic White) – Delicate rose aroma grows stronger when brewing, then makes for a delicate sip. The buds and green leaves of organic Bai Mu Dan-style white tealeaves are married with wild fuchsia rosebuds for a floral-enhanced cup of white tea.

    American Tea Room: Choco Latte tea

    Choco Latte (Premium Organic Botanical Infusion) – Choco Latte is a chocoholic’s dream, made with organic cacao husks along with both organic vanilla beans and organic rooibos to create a rich, intoxicatingly divine cup of tea filled with antioxidant-rich rooibos.

    American Tea Room: Sweet Lullaby tea

    Sweet Lullaby (Premium Organic Botanical Infusion) – We detected lots of lemon and lavender at the nose, immediately followed by mint. We’re looking forward to warmer weather when we’ll serve this one iced together with lemon shortbread!

    American Tea Room: Brioche Free tea

    Brioche Free (Premium Organic Botanical Infusion) – Brioche Free is an experience akin to opening a package of sweet buns! Organic and caffeine-free, this botanical infusion is a perfect afternoon treat. The tea contains apple, almonds, cinnamon and beetroot.

    American Tea Room: Blueberry Rooibos tea

    Blueberry Rooibos (Premium Organic Red) – Smells gorgeous! When I originally opened the shipment of teas, I believe the blueberry aroma from this one was the first to reach my nostrils.

    American Tea Room: Lemoncello tea

    Lemoncello (Premium Organic Red) – Another amazing beauty to smell and taste. What a burst of candied lemon and herbs in this organic rooibos blend! Lemoncello’s made from “sienna and burgundy rooibos needles spiked with shards of vibrant lemongrass and seductive curls of marigold”.

    It was hard to pick a favourite, but out of the above teas we sniffed, brewed, and sipped, Lemoncello, Brioche Free, and Extreme Vanilla scored highest for taste, aroma, and overall enjoyment.

    American Tea offers free shipping on orders over $50 within the US (orders also include a few free samples). There’s two options when shipping to Canada: $5.95 ground service or $25 FedEx; no minimum purchase required.

    Visit the American Tea Room at 401 North Cannon Drive in Beverly Hills.

    We were sent a selection of American Tea Room teas for the purpose of sampling and of writing this feature.

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  • Feb25

    United Parcel Service(UPS) McDonnell Douglas MD-11(F) // N286UP (cn-48453/473)
    [United Parcel Service(UPS) McDonnell Douglas MD-11; photo credit: Jonathan Navarro on Flickr]

    This Saturday, UPS Canada will celebrate the big 4-0 in true Canadian fashion, hosting outdoor skating events across the country, including one here at Robson Square.

    United Parcel Service Step Van
    [United Parcel Service Step Van; photo credit: John on Flickr]

    To thank the community for its partnership over the past 40 years, UPS Canada is giving back to its employees, customers, and community members, inviting them to visit the UPS booth at Robson Square for free skate rental vouchers, hot chocolate, and a limited-edition, commemorative 40th anniversary toque.
    Skating events will take place in other cities across Canada, including Montreal, Mississauga and Calgary this Saturday, and in Halifax on Sunday, March 1.
    UPS Canada 40th Anniversary Celebration
    Date:  Saturday, February 28, 1 to 4 pm
    Venue: Vancouver Robson Square, 800 Robson Street, Vancouver
    Free event includes skate rental vouchers, hot chocolate, and limited-edition 40th anniversary toque

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  • Feb25

    Polaroid Cube-13

    Remember the classic Polaroid instant camera? Those have been revamped to meet the 21st century, and in addition to an impressive-looking product lineup, there’s now the Cube, an adorable 1.4” (3.5 cm) HD lifestyle video camera sporting the Polaroid rainbow stripe motif. I spotted them at CES this year and was interested to see how this tiny camera would perform.
    Continue reading »

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  • Feb24

    VPIWF-International Festival Tasting-6

    The wine world has arrived in Vancouver for the 37th Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival, on now through March 1. Headlined by a 55-winery contingent from theme country Australia, VIWF features 170 wineries from 14 countries participating in 53 events across the city.

    Here’s a sneak peek at last night’s launch party held at Joey’s Wine Room downtown.

    Each year, the festival offers an incredible opportunity for wine lovers to immerse themselves in the world of wine, discover new wines, wineries and wine-producing regions, and learn more about what’s happening globally through educational tastings and seminars. The spotlight is on Australia, with the festival offering the most comprehensive exploration of Australian wine undertaken in North America since 2007.

    Ring bolt Cabernet sauvignon

    “We are excited to share the ‘history, evolution and revolution’ of Australian winemaking with festival goers,” says Mark Davidson, Global Education Manager, Wine Australia. “Our seminars and tastings will take members of the public and trade through Australia’s 200-year winemaking history; its regional, style and variety evolution; and the innovative techniques being used that are shaping the wine trends of tomorrow.”

    Flavours of the Festival/Wirra Wirra Church Block 2010

    Tickets are going fast, but there are still several events available that will take wine lovers on an epicurean journey across Australia.

    Minted lamb kofka skewers, dill yogurt

    The Savour Australia Lounge Party
    Date: Tuesday, February 24, 8:30 to 10:30 pm
    Venue: 130 West (Loungeworks Space), 130 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
    Tickets: $65
    The Savour Australia Lounge Party’s a great way to get a first taste of what today’s Australian wines are all about. Each of the 20 participating wineries will be pouring two wines – one sultry Shiraz and one sophisticated white. Add a mouth-watering selection of small bites prepared by Dirty Apron Catering (including Kangaroo Sliders and Mini Truffle Meat Pies), swinging lounge tunes, and some of the most personable wine producers in the world for a tantalizing Aussie evening.

    Wyndham Estate Chardonnay 2010

    Geological Gems
    Date: Friday, February 27, 5:15 to 6:45 pm
    Venue: Vancouver Convention Centre West, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver
    Tickets: $55
    Geological Gems digs deep into how geology affects Australian wines. Mark Davidson leads a panel of top vine stars on an exploration of the effects of intense Terra Rossa soils, ancient sand deposits, and prehistoric beds of slate and limestone.

    Mod Oz
    Date: Saturday, February 28, 5:15 to 6:45 pm
    Venue: Vancouver Convention Centre West, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver
    Tickets: $45
    Mod Oz is the perfect seminar for those wanting to expand their wine horizons and experience the adventurous spirit of Australian wines. Discover alternative and Mediterranean varietals (Gruner Veltliner, Sangiovese, Touriga), contemporary examples of traditional varieties (Tasmanian Pinot Noir), and unusual and innovative winemaking techniques emerging in Australia today.

    Wines of Portugal Seminar at Wildebeest-10

    McLaren Vale Scarce Earth
    Date: Saturday, February 28, 5:15 to 6:45 pm
    Venue: Vancouver Convention Centre West, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver
    Tickets: $55
    Looking to learn more about one of Australia’s iconic wine regions? McLaren Vale Scarce Earth examines single vineyard Shiraz from different geologies, soils, elevations and sustainable viticultural practices. Rhys Pender MW leads an exploration of the diversity of McLaren Vale, one of the most geologically complex wine regions in the world.

    Vancouver Wine Festival Tasting-6

    The Savour Australia section of the Acura International Festival Tasting Room is a great place to discover wines from 14 Australian regions. In addition to the 55 Australian wineries (35% new to the festival), there will be a central tasting station, where festival goers can take a Shiraz journey through South Australia, linger at tasting stations themed around cool-climate wines, and try their hand at identifying aromas and faults in wine with the Australian Wine Research Institute.

    VPIWF-International Festival Tasting-11

    The Saturday evening International Festival Tasting is sold out, but there are still tickets remaining for Thursday, February 26, 7 to 10 pm, Friday, February 27, 7 to 10 pm, and Saturday, February 28, 3 to 5 pm.

    The festival coincides with Shiraz Week (February 21 to March 1), a perfect pairing with the global focus on Syrah and Shiraz. The Acura Tasting Room will be one of the best places in the world to try the full range of Australian Shiraz (as well as examples from other countries) on Global Shiraz Day, Friday, February 27.

    Lucky Penny White 2010 (65% Chardonnay)

    Tickets are available online, via phone (604.837.3311; toll free 1.877.321.3121), and in person at the box office open from Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 5 pm, 305–456 West Broadway, Vancouver

    Get social!
Facebook: VanWineFest
    Twitter: @VanWineFest ~ Join the conversation using hashtags #VIWF + #SavourAustralia

    International Festival Tasting 2013/Bard on the Beach costumes

    For full program details, visit VanWineFest.ca and click on the interactive Festival at a Glance to learn more about each event or download the brochure. Net proceeds support VanWineFest’s charitable partner, Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.

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  • Feb24

    Tuscany travel

    Some of our most memorable vacations to date have involved spending a week or more in a city hotel, with flexibility for day trips and expanded sightseeing coupled with peace of mind in knowing that we’d have a home base to return to at the end of a long day. Finding the right balance between comfort and budget, we spent three weeks in Tuscany, splitting our stay between San Gimignano and Volterra.

    Tuscany travel/Siena

    Being based in one spot during a vacation means getting to know a new neighbourhood’s amenities and transit options. Whether you’re the type of traveler that likes to wander carefree and discover a new place without a schedule, or one that sticks to a guidebook (or travel app), it’s less stressful knowing that you don’t have to face repacking and switching to a new part of the city right in the middle of a vacation.

    Tuscany travel/Volterra

    On our Tuscany trip, we were able to pack the car and head out for the day at leisure, or (as in the case of San Gimignano) just walk out the door and head down the cobblestone streets towards the town square to enjoy a cup of gelato (there are actually TWO gelato shops right in the same square of that tiny village!).

    Tuscany travel/San Gimignano
    [A curious peek inside, San Gimignano]

    Master gelato maker Sergio (of Gelateria Dondoli) has been crowned with Gelato World Champion (2006/2007, 2008/2009); if the line is too long, the gelato shop just across the square is also quite good (I’ve enjoyed the dulce de leche there on a few occasions, alternating our afternoon gelato fixes between the two).

    Tuscany travel/Florence

    Florence has so much to offer that we were glad to be based close by, giving us the time needed to properly soak in the rich atmosphere and architecture of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And we were so close to Lucca, Pisa, and Siena at that point that it was well worth tacking on a few days to the holiday to tour those cities as well.

    Tuscany travel/Florence

    After all, we’re not in this neck of the woods that often, and truth be told, we could have spent a couple of months in Italy and not have been able to have seen everything we’d hoped to!

    Although we lived in The Netherlands at the time of our Tuscan vacation and had the luxury of driving from door to door, we have flown over to Europe from Canada and know how comforting it is to have a hotel arranged upon our arrival.

    Tuscany travel/Florence Tuscany travel/Florence

    We also enjoyed a milestone birthday in Tallinn, Estonia in much the same way, basing ourselves in the heart of the city and heading out in a different direction each day we were there. Our hotel really began to feel like home after a couple of days, and the longer you’re in a city, the more you feel part of its vibe and less a tourist just passing through.

    Tuscany travel/Siena

    Guided travel is also a popular way of touring, whether as a first-timer or returning to a city after falling in love with it years back. Collette Spotlight Tours combine a love of travel and discovery with a single hotel stay, making for an educational, relaxing, and fun vacation. Collette’s been in the business of travelling the world since 1918, and offers everything from river cruises, small group tours and family trips to rail journeys and comprehensive land tours.

    Tuscany travel/Lucca

    Spotlight Tours include bag porterage and express check in at the hotel, two more things to make life easier while on holiday. Many of their tours also offer the option to start or extend the trip with pre- and post nights in the chosen destination, because sometimes it’s nice to linger after a full week in a city, checking out a couple of favourite spots or perhaps dinner and a show before flying back home.

    Tuscany travel/San Gimignano Tuscany travel/San Gimignano
    [San Gimignano]

    You’ll have the chance to learn about a city’s culture and history through local guides and get some time on your own to explore as well. We’ve often combined independent travel with a couple of local tours and discover so much more when an iconic treasure such as Florence’s Uffizi Gallery is deconstructed by a local expert.

    Tuscany travel/Tuscan countryside
    [San Galgano Abbey, Chiusdino, Siena]

    There are currently 16 Spotlight tours available, ranging from five to nine days. From Florence to Beijing, Collette has itineraries arranged to showcase the best of each city.

    Visit Collette Spotlight Tours online for detailed itineraries and pricing. This article was produced in partnership with Collette Spotlights.

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  • Feb23

    Dion Johnstone
    [Dion Johnstone]

    Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. His name alone represents ideals of peace and perseverance against oppression. The achievements that canonized him as a legend and the rousing speeches that inspired millions were all centered on his steadfast philosophy of non-violence. 

    Despite preaching love, his tragic assassination on the night of April 4, 1968, immortalized him as a martyr. Some speculate that the civil rights movement was able to gain momentum faster than if he’d lived. Yet, how many of his followers actually knew about the man who lived, breathed, and worried like the mortal he was? 
    Playwright Katori Hall serves up a sliver of history and fantasia in Arts Club’s The Mountaintop. Her date-with-destiny play tantalizes audiences with glimpses into the private habits of the man known as Reverend King.
    Continue reading »

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  • Feb23

    Lindsay Nahmiache
    [Lindsay Nahmiache]

    With meetings, cocktail parties, and the added pressure of managing fitness into business travel, many professionals struggle to narrow down the essentials for their ventures and are inevitably faced with the famous ‘suitcase sit.’

    Both Lindsay Nahmiache and Almira Bardai, co-partners of Jive Communications, have led fast and furious lives full of culture and worldly projects since the early stages of their careers, and have mastered a few secrets to successful packing along the way.

    Lindsay Nahmiache started her buzzing career working in London, England for E! Entertainment Television and The Rolling Stones, which meant travelling across Europe on a daily basis.

    Lindsay later worked as a Bollywood film producer in Mumbai, India, sending her across the country on different colourful film shoots. Lindsay has also spent a large part of her career as a film festival advisor; clients include the Sundance Film Festival as well as festivals in Cannes, Berlin, London, and Toronto.

    Almira Bardai
    [Almira Bardai]

    Almira Bardai made her mark as Head of Global PR at Cobra Beer in London, England, bringing her to Krakow, Poland for press trips, to Paris for the SIAL food and drinks exhibition, to Germany for the Anuga food and beverage fair, and to Cape Town, South Africa for marketing launches and team training.

    After Almira covered each and every European and African landmark, she headed up her own Corporate PR business in Sydney, Australia — a city she admires for its creative, energetic, and balanced lifestyle.

    The two globetrotters met and founded Jive Communications, a boutique agency with offices currently in Vancouver and Toronto. The agency’s extensive client roster spans across North America, and includes Banff World Media festival in Alberta, entertainment clients in Los Angeles, and technology clients in San Francisco. I asked the two for their top packing tips to help organize their nomadic lifestyles.

    1. Stick to hand luggage to save time and avoid baggage loss

    Lindsay Nahmiache is the queen of stand-by flights — baggage check-in is rarely an option. Her trick? She packs all her outfits in a suit bag and then carefully organizes her leftover personal items, e.g. laptop, beauty products, and reading materials into a compact carry-on.

    “I NEVER check my bag. Whether it’s 20 degrees or minus 30 degrees, I only bring what I can fit in a carry-on suitcase,” says Lindsay. “I once had a flight get cancelled and had to quickly rebook another one — my checked baggage never made it to my destination, which is why I now never check my bags. This also helps me get in and out of the airport as fast as possible.”

    2. Invest in a travelling yoga mat to maintain mindfulness

    A certified yoga instructor, Almira Bardai emphasizes the importance of bringing yoga on the road. She always manages to fit a lightweight and compact on-the-go mat into her hand luggage; this keeps Almira focused and balanced in each new work environment.

    “No matter how many time zones I’ve crossed, I never get jet lag,” says Almira. “Having yoga at my disposal, whether I’m in Sydney, Burma, or Vancouver, helps keep me levelheaded and energetic.”

    3. Master the art of bundle packing

    Bundle Packing

    Both Lindsay and Almira swear by the bundling method of packing to dress for success and to impress! It takes a little more effort than rolling or folding, but the payoff of strategic packing placement and capitalizing on clothing shape results in wrinkle-free items upon arrival sans ironing!

    Although it may seem that the Jive Communications duo have covered every inch of the globe, Bhutan, Bolivia, Medellin, Sarajevo, Mali, Senegal, and Central America remain on their collective travel bucket list.

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  • Feb20

    The Dalmore Collection

    You know you’re in for a special evening when world-renowned luxury malt whisky maker The Dalmore invites you to sample from their fine collection. 

    Dalmore Whisky Tasting at Black+Blue-2

    Located on the northern shores of the Firth of Cromarty, deep in the spectacular Scottish Highlands, The Dalmore Distillery has been producing exceptional single malt whisky since 1839, and houses some of Scotland’s more precious and rare whisky stocks.
    Continue reading »

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  • Feb20

    The Gospel According To Matthew

    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 Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1964 film The Gospel According to Matthew.

    The consequence is a crescendo of excitement and involvement with the fervor and passion of Jesus and an accumulating sense of the irony and tragedy of Jesus’ suffering, in historical as well as spiritual terms.” — Bosley Crowther, New York Times

    Pasolini was a poet. The Gospel According to Matthew is a stunning example of his talent, as the audience gets the feeling of watching a documentary of Jesus’ life with the mystical sense of being there. No other film about Christ is as contemplative, inviting us simply to meditate on the life and teaching of Jesus.

    This isn’t a divine evangelist in shining white robes, executing his abilities in awesome spectacles. As with any Italian neo-realism film, the faces (all non-actors) and images are simple and strong, a refreshing departure from the heavy-handed symbolism and melodrama of other adaptations of Christ’s life. The exceptional soundtrack includes Bach, a Congolese choir, and Odetta, to broaden the film’s relevance to all audiences by including music that transcends time and place.


    Michael Audain is Chairman of Polygon Homes Ltd., one of BC’s leading home builders. A fifth generation British Columbian, Mr. Audain was educated at the University of British Columbia and at the London School of Economics. Audain is also a governor and past Chairman of the Business Council of British Columbia.

    An active supporter of the visual arts, Mr. Audain is Chair of the Audain Art Museum and the Audain Foundation, the first Honorary Chairman of the Vancouver Art Gallery, a past Chair of the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Vancouver Art Gallery Foundation. Mr. Audain has also been appointed to the Order of Canada and to the Order of British Columbia.

    To top this illustrious list, Audain’s received honorary degrees from four universities, as well as the Queen’s Diamond and Golden Jubilee Medals.

    Vancity Cinema Salon with Michael Audain Presents The Gospel According to Matthew
    Date: Tuesday, March 3, 7:30 pm
    Venue: Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour Street, Vancouver
    Tickets: $13.00; may be purchased online

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  • Feb19

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-2

    It’s been a few months since Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House, a restaurant showcasing Howe Sound Brewery beers, opened in the former Chambar space on Beatty Street. We attended the opening to check out the initial menu offerings as well as enjoy the welcoming, relaxed vibe.

    The inviting space seats up to 170 people between the front bar and side and back tables, incorporating a rustic feel with locally-made devil-themed art on the walls commissioned by Howe Sound Brewery’s graphic designer Tom Pedriks.

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-7

    This is the only spot in the city where you can sample from 16 Howe Sound Brewery beers. There are also four rotating guest craft beer taps to choose from. In addition, find a full range of bourbons, rye, whiskeys, scotch, cocktails and BC wines by the glass on the menu.

    We were also happy to see the addition of more salads and seafood options on the brand-new menu, which according to General Manager Trevor Magee, is set to rotate for each season.

    Of course, no visit to Devil’s Elbow would be complete without a few craft beer samples. We chose two beer flights.

    Devil's Elbow Ale and Smoke House-7
    [Hopraiser West coast IPA, Wee Beastie Oak Aged Scotch Ale, Dark Anvil Lager, Super Jupiter Grapefruit ISA]

    Devil's Elbow Ale and Smoke House-8
    [Sky Pilot Pale Ale, Pumpkineater Imperial Ale, Pothole Filler Imperial Stout, Bulleit Bourbon Porter]

    Alongside these randomly-chosen beers (there were four of us ordering), we decided on a sampling of several appetizers, salads, meats and sides, and before long, the entire wood-topped table was filled with what looked like half the menu.
    Continue reading »

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  • Feb18

    Happy Plugs at CES 2015, Las Vegas
    [A wall of Happy Plugs at CES 2015, Las Vegas]

    Similar in form to Apple’s earbuds pre-September 2012, Sweden-based Happy Plugs offers the in-ear built-in sound control experience in a huge range of colour options.

    Happy Plugs-3

    The plugs offer both a mic and remote capability, which I tested on an iPhone 5s and a Blackberry 10. Both worked like a charm.
    Continue reading »

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  • Feb17

    Bluelounge CableDrop Mini

    Ever have that one cable that keeps dropping over the side of your desk and onto the floor, and then (if you’re like me) have to struggle to reach from under the desk to get it back to where it belongs?

    Bluelounge CableDrop

    Got a tangled heap of cables lying around on the desk that could use some managing?

    Enter Bluelounge, a dual American/Indonesian-based company that makes CableDrops in regular (ideal for Thunderbolt and Apple 30-pin connectors) or mini (for micro USB and Apple Lightning connectors) sizes that stick right onto most any surface for clipping cables into.

    This award-winning brand strategy/graphic design studio was started in 1999 by two designers: Melissa Sunjaya and Dominic Symons. In 2005, Bluelounge began designing products and has since expanded to become an international manufacturing enterprise, creating cool tech products with good looks and functionality in mind.

    With headquarters in Singapore, Bluelounge also has two R&D divisions in Jakarta, Indonesia and in Pasadena, California. Their products are available in 46 countries worldwide.

    Bluelounge CableDrops

    I discovered the great little cable savers at CES back in January and thought how useful they’d be around our office, keeping cables from dropping behind desks and stowing our favourite in-ear buds for online video viewing.

    Bluelounge CableDrop

    As the TPU adhesive is meant to be permanent, it’s advisable to stick them onto the chosen surface with a light touch before committing to where you’d like them to go as the stickiness will become permanent over time.

    Bluelounge CableDrop Minis

    Available in black and white in the mini version, and in bright colours and muted tones in the regular size, CableDrop is a handy way to organize cables! Not only that, they can also stow toothbrushes, business cards, pens and regular electric cords.

    [Photo courtesy of Bluelounge]

    CableDrop: 1.15” (29 mm) X 0.6” (15.2 mm)
    CableDrop Mini: 0.8” (20 mm) X 0.375” (9.53 mm)

    CableDrop comes in a pack of six Regular or nine Minis and retails for US $9.95.

    I received the CableDrop in regular and in mini for the purpose of this review.

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  • Feb16

    Urban Grind at Vancouver Harbour Centre

    Mark your calendars! Next month, Harbour Centre is inviting Vancouverites to get their heart rates up by climbing the Urban Grind – the stairs to its iconic Lookout. 
    Christened The Urban Grind, this good-for-your-heart workout is a fantastic way to kickstart the upcoming hiking season or simply have fun with friends and colleagues.
    As a payoff for your effort, you’ll be treated to a stunning 360º aerial view of Vancouver, a refreshing beer, and live DJ entertainment. Climbers will have the opportunity to customize their workout by completing the route as many times as desired between 4 pm and 6:30 pm.

    Each $5 entry ticket includes one beer, DJ entertainment, plus a $5 Harbour Centre Food Court voucher. Visit the website for more info.
    Climb The Urban Grind
    Dates: Every Tuesday in March – March 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31, 4 pm to 6:30 pm
    Venue: Harbour Centre lobby, 555 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
    Cost: $5 (includes unlimited circuits between 4 to 6:30 pm)
    Get social!
    Follow Harbour Centre on Twitter @harbour_centre@VanLookout ~ use hashtag #UrbanGrind

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