Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver’

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2013: Three stories to tell

December 31, 2013

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Often I write these year-in-review posts and go month by month through the ups and downs of my year. This time around, I look at it in three distinct segments. Let me tell you some stories.

1. A foray into politics

I started the year with two new jobs in a new field. I reluctantly left broadcasting behind to try my luck at communications. One job was with a private public relations firm and the other a political party preparing for an election. Very quickly all things political ramped up and I was swept into the tide of a campaign. Two jobs became one and that one became my life.

I was happy to put everything I had into the campaign. At one point, I spent 50+ days at work in a row. We were putting in 12+ hour days and my boss, even more. Almost everyone I worked with had been campaign staff before. I was the new kid, so I took orders and completed tasks as best I could. I rewrote text over and over – the words lost all meaning and the meanings were diluted. The edits would circle back around to where they had started. A phrase that worked once would be discarded the next time.

But I did my job and didn’t say much about how I thought we could do better. There was a plan made by greater political minds than I. And there was a leader who decided how that plan would (or would not) be implemented.

That plan failed. We lost. It was devastating. I just felt empty. And I was out of a job.

2. Getting personal

Last year, the engagements started to roll in. This year, that trend continued. It even included me.

I had the pleasure of watching two of my oldest friends get married this year. One was streamed over the internet after a quick engagement and the other I travelled across the country to attend. We also had the pleasure of watching two Vancouver friends get married. Interestingly enough, they were with Orgle and I on our first date at a Whitecaps game.

I’m not a particularly sentimental person, but it is nice to see my friends so happy.

I am part of the 2014 Marriage Class. Our engagement a product of a romantic Quebec City hotel, some “California Love” and a nice bubble bath. The wedding is a small affair planned for May. In fact, we’ve cut so many traditions, it will seem more like a barbecue than what the wedding industry is trying to make me plan.

Maybe more exciting than my own engagement is the addition to my family. My brother and his wife had their first child. My nephew is the cutest thing ever and not just because I’m related to him.

So that’s the middle third of my year. Watching friends marry, visiting with my nephew, getting engaged and as summer wound down, welcoming Orgle’s mom to Canada for the first time.

3. Our Nation’s Capital

Following the election loss, I really didn’t know what to do next. My foray into politics had left me feeling empty and I wasn’t sure I could go through that again. So as other members of the campaign team returned to the fold, I looked elsewhere. And I found a job in Ottawa. Go figure, I flee from politics to the nation’s capital.

I now work in international public diplomacy. It’s communications, but also research and event planning – two things I’m really excited to do more of.

I don’t work for the Canadian government, but I’m sure if you really want to figure out what I do, you will.

Orgle started over when he moved to Canada. Now, as a pair, we are starting over in Ottawa. The move was stressful and there are lonely times, but I know it was the right decision. Orgle is loving the real winter weather and I am happy to have a whole new set of restaurants and shops to explore.

But I miss Vancouver, or at least the people there.

Overall:

It was a good year. Except the Oilers, they were rubbish.

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20 things you must eat in Vancouver

November 18, 2013

(Originally posted February 2, 2012. Updated in November 2013.)

I like food.

Honourable mention to Milestone’s california salad that I always eat at YVR. But there’s no way I’m putting a chain restaurant on my list.

Other than some ethical concerns with veal, I’ll pretty much try everything. I don’t like sea urchin, I don’t drink coffee and can’t handle diet pop.

In February, a friend is coming to town and I happen to be out of town! But I wanted to leave him a list of must-try foods in Vancouver.

Something absent on this list: Pho. Frankly, I have no idea what makes good Pho. I’ll pretty much eat it at any sketchy hole-in-the-wall. And I seem to like it all.

Also, the best breakfast under $3: Yummy Sushi. Wait, what?! I’ve never had sushi there. In fact, I don’t think they even do raw fish. But the hole-in-the wall has all day breakfast and is across the street from my home.

I’m not a big fan of breakfast, thus its relative absence on this list.  Same with sweets.  I’m a savory girl for the most part.

So far I haven’t been truly wowed by any Thai, Malaysian, Cambodian, etc. restaurants in Vancouver. That’s not to say there aren’t any really good ones. There are. I eat at Pad Thai regularly, though it is more cheap eats than authentic meal.

If there’s one thing you’ll notice about the list is that nothing is over $16. I’m not one to go for those $30 per plate meals.  So, this isn’t fine dining. I’m sure there is lots of very fine dining in Vancouver, but that’s not me.

Anyways, enough rambling, if you’re like me, you just want the list. These are restaurants I really like… not just the menu items below.

Top 20 things you must eat in Vancouver:

(Updated in November 2013 to reflect restaurant closures)

Banh Mi at Big Lou’s

Carnitas Taco at La Taqueria

Chicken Wings at Phnom Penh

Chili-Garlic Eggplant and blade sheared noodles at Peaceful Restaurant

Choriqueso Sandwich at Las Tortas

Fish and Chips at Go Fish

Garlic stubs with pork at Zakkushi

Grilled Cheese at Burgoo

Ice cream sandwiches at Chocolate Arts

Kimbap at HMart (Korean Grocery Store)

Le Grand Feast at Nuba

Peruvian Seafood Chowder at Mochikas

Pasta at Lombardo’s Ristorante

Pizza at Zaccary’s

Polenta Fries and mixed drinks at Cascade Room

Rib ends at Memphis Blues

Salted Caramel Blondie at Beaucoup Bakery

Steak Frites at Les Faux Bourgeois

Sushi and Okonomiyaki at Zipang

Tonkatsu at Suika

Waffles at Patisserie Lebeau

Five best sushi restaurants in Vancouver:

Honourable mentions: Kishimoto, Temaki, Clubhouse, Mazuya, Ro Sushi

5. Samurai Sushi House – ENORMOUS. Seriously. The fish is decent and the cuts are massive.

4. Toshi – The fish is superb, the lineup is annoying, but the fish is superb. If you know anything about the sushi scene in Vancouver, you’ve heard of it. But honestly, I’m just as happy going to my top three. (All surprisingly nearby.)

3. Sushiyama – How dare I place something ahead of the renowned and line-up oriented Toshi? Sushiyama never disappoints.

2. Shiro – Get ready to sit uncomfortably close to someone else, with bustling servers running past you. They jam everyone in, which is a good thing because otherwise you’d be waiting a long time. A great mix of price, quality, speed, and homemade wasabi – and you get pocky at the end.

1. Zipang Sushi – After recently taking out of town guests here over any other place in Vancouver, I realized it is my number one. The quality is always amazing, the menu is extensive and the prices totally reasonable. Plus I like the random decor.

Five more restaurants you should try:

Cafe Salade de Fruits

Fable

Forage

Edible Canada at the Market

Pizzeria Farina

Three places I wish I had gone to before I left:

Bao Bei

Chuchillo

Vij’s
Best breakfast in Vancouver:
 
Yummy Restaurant – For $2.99 you can get two eggs, five pieces of bacon (or 4 sausages or ham), a plate of hashbrowns and toast.

Paul’s Omelettery – Repeat visits have proven no one makes a better omelet in town.

Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe – random things in or on a pancake

Red Wagon – Busy hipster spot, but for good reason. Go on a weekday to avoid waiting in line. Known for their giant pulled pork pancakes.

Swiss Bakery – Just get a loaf of bread here and have toast. Known for frissants.

Best deals in Vancouver:

(Previously mentioned) Yummy Restaurant for $2.99 breakfast

(Previously mentioned) Samurai Sushi House for the biggest pieces of sushi I’ve ever seen

Bistro 101 – The local cooking school does a three course lunch for $20, dinner for $25. Half price wine Wednesday means the bottle is as cheap (or cheaper than buying at the liquor store).

Kitsilano Daily Kitchen – Chef’s tasting menu for $65 – which doesn’t seem like a deal but for 6 fantastic courses of food, it’s worth it

Pad Thai Restaurant – Definitely not the most authentic thai restaurant, but their lunch deal of $6 is a huge plate of food.

The Patty Shop – Jamaican patties. That’s it.

Great Han Mongolian Barbecue – Throw food in bowl, they cook. Good deal! (Not by weight!)

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32.

September 17, 2013

Today was my 32nd birthday. It’s also my last day in Vancouver as I pursue a new career path in Ottawa next week.

While this blog is a record (and a broken record at that) of all the things wrong with Vancouver, it did become home. Edmonton is my hometown; Vancouver was my home.  Truth is, I’m sad to be leaving. But I won’t miss the entitled masses and the superiority complex driven by some studies saying this is the best place in the world to live.

A friend put it more eloquently than I can:

“Vancouver is a city, a very nice one at that. But it is a lot harder to leave the people you love (or like, choose whichever word you prefer) than it is a city. There are lots of cities in the world, and they will always be there when you are. Not so much the people.”

He is struggling with the fact that during an extended travel, many of his friends will have left this city. Opportunities, adventures and love take us elsewhere. I tell friends, this is a permanent move, but it is not forever.

I have few close friends from Edmonton these days. Moving here gave me a good idea of who would make the effort and who would fail. It’s not a judgement of character. You can only have so many friends (or at least that’s the case for me) and inevitably, some don’t last.

So it will be a chance to see who sticks and who doesn’t. In my 8+ years on the West Coast, I’ve made some great friends – the kind you hope will last forever. We’ll see.

We will be back. Hell, we’re now about 8 months from our wedding – to be planned from across the country. If I was blogging regularly, all I’d do is complain about that process and the expectations driven by the wedding industry. But I digress..

My birthday was a familiar day in British Columbia. Grey, rain, a lengthy wait for a ferry, infuriating traffic, and take-out sushi. While a move 4,700km is not going to clear up all those issues, it is going to give Orgle and I our own little adventure.

It all starts after this sleep.

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Cursed border lineup. Went hiking. Watched friends get married. So beautiful.

August 23, 2013
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Damn I miss prairie storms

August 7, 2012
Vancouver storm, August 8th, 2012

Vancouver storm, August 8th, 2012

I was a bit late grabbing the old camera, but man do I love storms regardless of the photographic proof.  Makes me miss the homeland.

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The best liquor stores in Vancouver (and my new blog)

August 6, 2012

First of all, let me get this out of the way. I have a new blog: The West Cider

It’s a cider blog, because *surprise* I like cider.

In the past five years, craft beer brewing has taken off here in BC, following the lead (somewhat) of our friends down south (especially in Oregon). I think craft cider can’t be far behind.  I know it will never be to the extent of other beverages, but some variety would be appreciated by…well…me.

So, how about the best liquor stores in Vancouver? Sure, I got you here with that promise. The truth is, these are just my favourite liquor stores.

My favourites are those with a good cider and craft beer selection.  I like wine too, but you can find something decent in pretty much every store (even Newfoundland!).

Honourable mention (and probably better than #5 or #4 if I take the sentimentality out of it): Darby’s Liquor Store in Kitsilano

5. Lennox Liquor Store in City Square Mall – For the last five years, it’s been the closest liquor store to my work (and at times, my home) which means, it has been the source of many most of my drinks.  Your options for hard liquor aren’t wide-ranging, but it has a little bit of all the things I like.

4. Viti Liquor Store – I avoid downtown Vancouver. I only go there if I have to. (Now that I’m soon-to-be unemployed, that may change if an opportunity arises.)  Viti does a good job of bringing in lots of different stock in a small space.   Prices aren’t the best, but I’d rather pay a bit more for something different than less for the same old.

I didn’t really feel like putting these three in some arbitrary order, so they all are number one:

1. Firefly Fine Wines and Ales – (Not just for Vancouver! If you’re in Maple Ridge, there’s a location there!) It’s not a big back cold room, but I get lost in those two aisles of beer.  There’s only about one shelving unit that I need to ignore completely, and there’s a good choice of ciders as I walk in.  Note: It can be very cold in there.

1. Legacy Liquor Store in the Athletes’ Village – I talked about getting lost in the beer fridge at Firefly, but Legacy, if not for its high ceilings, you’d get lost in the store itself. It’s really big. I took a friend there last week. You could see her eyes light up as she walked in the doors. It was also the only place I could find Tempt Cider. It’s no longer there, but I hear it’s coming back. (Check my Cider blog for more info.)  Also, they host some cool events.

1. Brewery Creek on Main Street – Remember how I said I work by Lennox Liquor Store? Well for several years, this was the closest liquor store to my home.  Even before the renovations, they were bringing in lots of great craft beers, but since they expanded, the selection is just fantastic. It has had a great cider selection as long as I can remember.

Note: Government liquor stores are fine. I don’t like the hours. I don’t like the cider selection (which is none). I don’t like the fact that beer is not sold cold. However, the prices are decent.  But, like I mentioned, I’d rather pay an extra quarter or buck to support an independent store bringing in creative options.

Where do you pick up a brew? Are there Vancouver liquor stores I’m totally missing out on…

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iPhone Faces gone wrong – Riot edition

March 11, 2012

iPhone Faces gone wrong - Riot edition