Tag Archives: Vancouver

More Art from Me….

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I did a post a few weeks back about the final project I did for my most recent painting class a few months ago. Several years ago I also took drawing and all sort of wonderful classes while doing a certificate in Fine Art Techinques at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

At the time I began classes I was struggling with an illness and was unable to do many of the things that I loved doing previously. But I had always wanted to take art and it was something I could do. So I took one class and my first teacher was so supportive and told me I actually had talent and should continue to so signed up for the certificate. I can honestly say that art helped me stay sane while cooped up.  If you have never taken a class or painted a painting or done a drawing since grade school – but you would like to – you are where I was back then. I encourage you to take the leap you never know what might come of it.

Here are some pics of some of the work I did during and since my time at Emily Carr:etc 149
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Vancouver Vegan High Tea!!! By Request @ La Petite Cuillère

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I am always on the lookout for great tea.  I love tea it’s one of my little eccentricities I guess. I usually have at least 15-20 different tea selections around my house at any given time. 

But high tea has always been something that was not on the menu due to my food allergies. Finding a high tea service that doesn’t include dairy or eggs but is still traditional is like finding a weeping willow tree in the desert.

But some times you come across the best things by accident. As I did with La Petite Cuillère  at 55 Kingsway Street, Vancouver.

After my voice lessons one day I was headed for the bus to Main Street station and passed by a sign that announce Vegan cupcakes!  A very exciting find – I popped in and it was the loveliest place: filled with cozy armchairs, and dining tables, and patterned tablecloths and those old English china tea cups painted with roses and violets – just like it would be at your imaginary English Grandmother’s house!

Don’t be fooled – the name is French – but It’s most definitely an English tea house.

That first time I had a lovely cup of  Earl grey cream and a yummy cupcake and noted down my voice exercises for the week.

I ended up popping in quite often and getting to know the owners a little – who have always been so friendly and wonderful and knowledgeable about their teas and have always been interested in feedback about their vegan offerings.

Then when we were trying to think of something fun to do to get a group of my old room-mates together I thought – high tea!  ( I’m not the only tea nerd in the group.)  So I emailed La Petite Cuillère and asked if it was possible to put together a vegan high tea for me. And they said yes!

So the girls and I met for a high tea on a lovely early spring Sunday afternoon and it was wonderful. And the prices are soooooooo good.  High tea in the this town, and in my former haunt of Victoria, BC is scandalously expensive – $40 to 50 dollars is totally normal.  High tea at La Petite Cuillère  is two tiers of yummy treats – “A selection of two miniature sweets, two finger sandwiches, one miniature scone, fruit preserves, and Devonshire cream. Served on authentic English bone china with your choice of tea from our premium loose leaf tea selection. (Available Friday through Sunday)”  for $13.75  or for a larger afternoon tea with even more on three tiers for $24.50.  I got the Afternoon tea option last time I was there but I think in the future I would go for the high tea option – it seems like the best deal, and more than enough food and treats for me.

Of course the vegan high tea and the regular high tea have differences of course but I was very pleased with what I got in comparison with my table-mates.

As for the tea choices I suggest the Earl Gray Cream and the Darling Darjeeling and the Mango Green tea and the Coconut Rooibos Chai.

Go there. It’s a great place. Vegan friendly and everyone friendly – the staff and owners are delightful. Make sure to make reservations for high tea on the weekend as they are usually very busy!!   AND YOU MUST REQUEST A VEGAN OPTION WHEN YOU MAKE RESERVATIONS! You can find them on Facebook and at their website http://www.lapetitecuillere.ca/ and at 55 Kingsway, Vancouver.

*photos courtesy of their website – as my photos all have faces in them.

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My Balcony Garden Salad!

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The above pic is of the first day after I planted my new little balcony vegetable garden this spring – May 1 to be exact. I have never had my own garden before so I didn’t know what to expect. ( Maybe the same drudgery as weeding was when I was a kid)  But it has been such a joy! I tend and thin and water and things grew! Yummy things that are helpful in the kitchen.  Its has been so much fun to watch thing grow and grow and I have added even more new pots this past month!

These pic document my lettuce pot from dirt and seeds to my first salad from the garden a few weeks ago – since then there has been 5 or 6 more big plates of salad.  😀

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Under the influence: Pacific Breeze Winery Tour and Tasting

IMG_0126Last year I took a chance on a one of those group coupon deals for a wine tasting in New Westminster, BC so I could take my Mom out and have some fun. (We have previously had great fun at Vancouver’s amazing and wonderful HOPSCOTCH Festival!)  And several weeks ago for Mothers’s Day we finally went.

I had my doubts, and so did my Mom, about an urban winery in New Westminster:  there are no vineyards in Metro Vancouver; one must drive a few hours or take a ferry to get near the prime wine country; and both of us had spent a great deal of time in New West and didn’t think it very likely that we would have not noticed a large winery in the area.  But why not go and see what it is about and taste some wine.

Some high quality, delicious, remarkable wine.

I am not a connoisseur of wine by any means. I have a glass maybe once a month. But I do like to to read: to read about how things are made and to read about history. And wine is one of those things that comes up a lot in history. (Hungary’s famous Tokaj (Tokay) wine was used as an overture to create and keep allies: Louis the XIV was given Tokaj wine by the new Prine of a newly independent Hungary in 1686 in order to gain his alliance. He adored it and served it at the French court dubbing it “Vinum Regnum – Rex Vinorum” -the king of wines and the wine of kings; and Emperor Franz Josef sent Queen Victoria one bottle for every month she lived.  And once when I was a history major in university I had one of those 3 o’clock in the morning epiphanies that most of the major decisions by the major player in history were made under the influence of alcohol, and often lots of it.  But I digress.

The location is, well, unexpected. Kind of an old industrial mall down by the train tracks with only a couple of other occupants. But when I walked in the door it was a beautiful room with a  wooden bar. The tour at Pacific Breeze began in that first room, the main tasting room where we were poured a generous taste of their 2011 Sauvignon Blanc.  Yummy! Unoaked, very fresh, fruity, and dry – a great summer wine.   This is not the wine you would associate with a “garage winery.” Then we were taken into the wine making room – which has 5 huge tanks where the wine ferments, the grape “squish-er,” a “de-skinner”  and a small bottling machine. The guide was one of the winemakers and he gave us some information and really welcomed our questions.The best guides are passionate and knowledgeable and he was both. He let us know that their “garage winery” was the product of two home winemakers with 40 years of experience between them and we constantly being asked if their wine was for sale.  He also let us know the origin of the name Pacific Breeze , as all the grapes are sourced from up and down the pacific coast – California, Oregon, Washington , and this year BC. They choose the best regions, and valleys for each varietal they make and they are small so they can order  small amount of the best they can find.  A little bit of many varieties and whatever seems like it had good growing year.   We then tried the Chardonnay which was complex and earthy, but as I’m not a fan of oaked white wine I can’t rave about it. It was complex and high quality but not my thing.

Then we we invited into the cask room – it was the room that I always think of when someone says winery – with about 100  French and American casks stacked  around the edges of the room.

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There was a table set in the centre with chairs for each of us and plates of a variety of high quality cheese and a little meat and crackers for each couple of tasters. Sadly have allergies to dairy, and the crackers were filled with sesame – one of my life threatening allergies. But there was wine so I couldn’t feel too bad for myself. The next wine was their signature Killer Cab, which was impressive. It’s a blend, and to me a good blend it a sign of great skill in wine making – blending just the right wines in the right quantities to get and outstanding result. It was dry and had the great mouth puckering and watering deliciousness that a cab should have.  Then we tried AssaZin. Which is a red Zinfandel. This is not the light white less than 10 dollar Zinfandel I associate with being 19 and having a gossipy night in with my girlfriends.  This is a powerful, deep purple,  mouth puckering  punch to the taste buds. The fruit is less prominent but is in a lovely harmony with the oak. This is a strong bold red but  isn’t heavy or over powering. Personally I like fruity wines and don’t usually go for heavier reds but this was definitely something I would order a glass of.  The next, and final bottle that was opened for us was a 2010 Cabernet Franc. Which was my absolute favourite of the day. It was very bold but the fruit was still in the starring role. It was an incredible wine. So delicious.  With the last three reds, each one was better than the last. But at our end of the table each one was a wow wine. I wouldn’t hesitate to order any of them at a restaurant or buy a bottle as a gift, or to share with friends.

At the tasting table we were invited to ask questions  – I asked quite a few, as is my my way – And we were guided through more intricacies of the wind making process, casking, tasting, filtering etc. And a couple of answers I think are important to share here: Pacific Breeze is not sold by BC liquor stores only private wine stores and at the winery itself, because as a small producer it would take almost 3/4 of what they produce  each year just to give them a small spot on the shelf; and the produce vegan wines- they do not use animal products  in the filtering stage which apparently is common practice and hard to to research or detect what wines use what processes for filtering. So if you are vegan Pacific Breeze is a good choice.

At the end of the tasting, when each of us was warm and our judgement a little impaired, we we invited back to the tasting room to buy any of the wines that were on offer. 🙂

All the wines are corked and will last and age well.

I bought a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc as it is summer time and I’m sure it will delicious to share on a balcony with friends on a summer evening.   And it was one of my two favourites of the tasting.

I was hesitating though because I really did like the Cabernet Franc but in the end my thrifty-ness won out. And I bought the cheaper bottle. And because we were at a tasting got a small discount 🙂    Though all the wines we had tasted were very reasonably priced in the 19.99 to 29.99 range. But a day or two later I was kicking myself and thinking that I really should have bought a bottle of the red instead. But I was stuck with an awesome white -such a terrible first world problem.  I did though write a quick note to the people at the winery thanking them for the great tasting and tour and answering so many of my questions. And I couldn’t help but ask if they still had a few bottles of the Franc around – and they did so – and they were kind enough to put one aside for me to pick up the next weekend and they gave me the tasting discount as well! They were lovely to me – which is so important!

I have good memories of a nice Sunday afternoon tasting with my Mom and I have two bottles laying in my cupboard just waiting for the right occasion.

So if you are nearby Pacific Breeze stop by for a quick taste, and if you see the group coupon – get it and go !

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Food Porn: Mango and Chocolate Sorbetto

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When asked what five things I would take to a desert island two of my choices would be a lifetime supply each of cookies and ice cream.  As a gal with food allergies and sensitivities,  I would have to pay a physical price for eating regular dairy-based ice cream – but there are many alternatives.  Hands down the best thing I have found is a sorbetto heaven in Vancouver – Bella Gelateria.  They are wonderful for always having a long a list of sorbetto,  non – dairy gelato, At least four flavours per day in the winter and 7 or more in the spring and summer prepared fresh every day by an award-winning, master gelato maker – James Coleridge. (He may even be there to serve it to you with a big smile )

Today, I had a two flavour cone of chocolate sorbetto – which has a saturated, creamy, bitter-sweet dark chocolate taste, is thick and creamy in texture. The mango mango mango flavour is amazing – it is the one sorbetto that I will order every time it is on the list when I come in. It is sooooo rich and creamy and smooth and so full of ripe delicious mango! The combination of the two is incredibly lush and heavenly. mmmmmmmmm!

The lemon, and Faloudeh sorbettos are also great choices – and if you ever see the blood orange or gewurztraminer sorbetto try them!

James Coleridge  created Bella Gelateria as “first gelateria in North America to make gelato using a process and equipment found in the best gelateria’s of Italy” after training in Bologna’s Gelato University. And he has won 2 major awards at the 2012 Florence Italy Gelato Festival – Winner People’s Choice Award and  Winner Technical Jury –  an unprecedented achievement for a non-Italian entrant (as well as many other accolades).

It is one of those places that I take friends and family from out of town – if you are taking a trip to Vancouver it is a not to be missed local experience. They support BC fruit growers, local suppliers and the slow food movement  🙂   They are also open till 10 or 11pm everyday – a rarity in Vancouver.

If you have sensitivities or allergies -The website http://www.bellagelateria.com/  has a page listing the ingredients  so that you can see what is in the gelato or sorbetto: Sorbetto-  Fresh seasonal fruit, Canadian Spring water, White cane sugar, Carob flour.

If you want to check out some of their other flavours  they list many of them on their website and update twitter and facebook with new offerings.  And they will let you have a taste before buying a whole cone. 🙂 Here is picture of today’s offerings:

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They are located at Burrard and Cordova in Vancouver. If you are ever in town go there!

“Vancouver Theatre Faces a Real Tragedy,” But You Can Do Something About It!

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This issue is very near and dear to me as a performer and musician and theatre lover. The Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts is a wonderful theatre downtown for dance (The Goh Ballet), concerts, comedy shows, and the Vancouver Film Festival. But there are signs that this venue might be sold and become a evangelical mega church. I have seen many great shows there and it is an outstanding place to see performances – from the comfortable seating to the great sound system to the twice as many women’s than men’s washrooms! Before it happens though the city council would have to get involved. There is still a chance that we can speak up and change things. Below are links to articles to learn about the venue itself and what is happening with the centre; and links to ways to make your voice heard. The most simple way is to email – mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca and tell them you want them to help stop this from happening. PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL!

Vancouver theatre faces a real tragedy by Marc Hume for the Globe and Mail

Church vies to take over Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts by Janet Smith for The Georgia Straight

Please don’t close the Centre Facebook Page

Petition to Save the Centre

The next Vancouver City Council Meeting

This is  the venue: The Centre

#savethecentreforthearts

#SaveTheCentreForArts

*photo from http://www.centreinvancouver.com/

Dark Chocolate Pasta with White Chocolate Sauce (Vegan-friendly)

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This was my dessert tonight. Mmmm, weekly dessert deliciousness……. There is powdered sugar and a little cinnamon and chocolate sprinkles on there too. And, yes, it’s vegan.

I know there are those of you who at first glance will not find this appealing but it is so freaking good. You should try it.  It is sweet and rich and fun to eat too!

The pasta was bought in Seattle but I think you could find something similar in ( insert your large city here). Or if you know how to make pasta there are many recipes out there -PS  we need to become good friends 🙂 .  The vegan white chocolate is actually a German product – labelled Weisse Schakalode (strange spelling) – that comes in buttons for easy melting. I found it at one of my favourite stores in the Vancouver area – Karmavore in New Westminster  They also have the most amazing vegan peanut butter cups, macaroons and SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM! So if you, like me, like dessert but can’t do dairy and eggs then try them – and Edible Flours on West Broadway!

But I digress, the sauce is melted (vegan) white chocolate with a touch of almond milk. I think it would be amazing with a dollop of ice cream (Coconut based for me!). This could also be done non-vegan, with milk chocolate etc.

For those of you who can only cook pasta: This is a dessert to impress your friends. Or just yourself.

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