Category Archives: Local

The Adventures of Research Girl: Wine is Good

Last time it was diners, this time it’s something a little more exotic (or possibly drunken)…

Photo by Lunchtruck

This past Saturday Lunchtruck and I ducked into the truck, bravely took on the freeway and the bridge, and eventually found ourselves driving along a winding road through some of the prettiest countryside I’ve seen in a while. There’s a wonderful restfulness that comes from clearing your mind of everything except enjoying the view as it rolls by. I must be too used to being a multi-tasking demon, because it took a lot of effort to enjoy what was right in front of me instead of anticipating what was coming next.

The goal of our drive was Fort Langley’s Fort Wine Company. Lunchtruck is in the midst of his final class for his certificate, and his assignment involves designing a wine bar and retail space. There’s waaaay more to it than that of course, and its been a fairly stressful 3 weeks, but that’s a whole other post…

The nice thing about going with him when he does his research is that it’s another opportunity to learn. Maybe not as much about wine as I’d like (my brain seems incapable of remembering all the details), but definitely more about what elements make me comfortable and interested in returning to a shop. It’s a little odd to realize that a combination of too high shelves and too little space between shelves is enough to get a shop struck off my list. I’m not picky, just short.

Now that I’ve been there, Fort Wine has a prized spot near the top – the place is so welcoming, and the smell! Heavenly. They produce a variety of fruit wines, and after trying a a few different flavours at their tasting bar, I have to say that a bottle of strawberry wine really needs to reside in my fridge at all times.

They’re quite smart about their merchandising too – besides the regular wines, cordials, portages and ice wines, they also carry goodies from Milsean (like their Demerara Butter Crunch Bar) and local jams, jellies, BBQ sauces, salad dressings and ciders. Add in some lovely glassware, martini accessories and recycled flag wine bags made by the Coast Society, and it’s pretty easy to start thinking about Christmas and hostess gifts.

We’ve got to go back soon. I don’t think the cranberry wine we got to go with the Christmas Turkey is going to see December.


Geeking Out And Loving It

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I think I’m well on my way to coming to terms with my innate geekiness. Embracing my inner “nerble”, as my friend puts it. That’s probably why I have no problem sharing with you the highlight of my Thursday (besides Lunchtruck, of course… and all those wonderful TT commentators – really, you oughta go visit them).

What’s the highlight, you ask?

My after-work trip to the Vancouver Museum to view the “No Place For a Lady” exhibit.

Yup. I spent a summer afternoon wandering the halls of a museum. Again. I think I’ll have to give my inner nerble a name soon. Not Sybil.

I’ve been wanting to see the exhibit since it opened in November, but life kept getting in the way. By the time I finally set a date to go with a coworker, I caught myself playing the rueful “I’ve built it up too much and now I’ll be disapointed” mind game. But I shouldn’t have worried. The curators worked with local author Barbara Hodgson to create an exhibit that would bring to life the stories of lady travelers from her book of the same name, and it works beautifully. They’ve created tableaus that capture the essence of thebook, and showcase different aspects of the lady traveller; scientist, writer, collector, archeologist, explorer, dilletante.

I had to laugh though. I visited the VM’s website this morning, and it seems Barbara herself will be telling tales at the exhibit this Sunday, July 9th. Yes, the gods goddesses cats are laughing at me.

From the website:

No Place For a Lady: Guided Gallery Tour
Sunday July 9th, 2006, 1:30PM

Hear Barbara Hodgson tell tales about the courageous women who, “endured Russian bed bugs; unveiled secrets of Turkish harems; endured Africa’s scorching heat… plagues of scorpions and traversed raging Tibetan rivers.” A few travellers include: Alexandra David-Neel, the first European women to enter Lhasa, the Tibetan city forbidden to foreigners, archaeologist Gertrude Bell, exceptional travel writer Isabella Bird and Dutch mother and daughter explorers of the Nile River, Alexine and Harriet Tinne.

Barbara Hodgson is a Vancouver-based writer, book designer, photographer, traveller and collector. Her novels include: The Tattooed Map, The Sensualist, and Hippolyte’s Island. Her non-fiction works include: Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon, The Rat: A Perverse Miscellany, In the Arms of Morpheus: The Tragic History of Laudanum, Morphine and Patent Medicines and Good and Evil in the Garden. She is also co-author of Paris Out of Hand, a fictional guidebook to Paris.

Normally I don’t follow horrorscopes so much as I chuckle at them, but
this particular writer has the uncanny ability to write things that seem possible.

So you can imagine my thoughts when I saw this:

Once you open a can of worms, the only way to re-can the buggers is to use a larger can. So says Zymurgy’s First Law of Evolving Systems Dynamics. I urge you to keep that in mind during the coming week, Taurus. You or someone close to you may suffer from a blissful mania or temporary insanity that leads them to think that liberating the canned worms is a wise idea. Maybe it will ultimately prove to be the right thing to do, but it could cause a ruckus in the short run. In any case, make it your job to have a barrel-size can on hand for the re-containment.

See this makes me a wee bit nervous. I’ve got family dinners this weekend (one with Lunchtruck’s family, one with mine) and we’re a fairly boisterous lot. The last thing I’d want is a can’o’worms at either one of these family functions.

Your turn – do you follow horoscopes or things of that ilk? Why or why not?

Research Girl Strikes Again!

So last week I donned my research assistant cap and went with the darling Lunchtruck on a tour of 50’s style diners throughout Vancouver. His goal: check out decor, layout, circulation paths and all that interesting stuff designers consider when putting together a plan for a restaurant. Mine was easier – I meant to sit back, enjoy the decor, and focus on the food. And oh,what food there was to be had!

First stop: Sodas at 4497 Dunbar Street in Kerrisdale. This place has been around for 20 years, and according to our waitress was once a garage. The atmosphere is casual and fun, brightly coloured with comfy booths to sink into. They have a nice enclosed patio and counter seating at heights for adults and for little ones, which I thought was a nice touch..

If you go by on a hot day, spoil yourself and try one of their milkshakes, or the fruit smoothie. I got a chance to try both (my shake of choice was mocha) and both were deee-light-ful.

An added bonus is their bathroom mural, which took me by surprise with it’s originality, so I had to share it….

Next up on the research trail was Moderne Burger at 2507 West Broadway. I’d been there before with the darling, but this was when the only thing on our mind was how hungry we were and how good their burgers smelled. We had intended to go back, but then there was a fire next door and they were closed for what felt like forever…

The burgers there are fabulous and huge – do yourself a favour and come hungry. I normally don’t have shakes but I tried their Creamsicle shake and had my heart stolen. Best. Damn. Shake. Ever.

I really wasn’t sure what I was going to walk into at Diner (1269 Hamilton Street, Yaletown), but I knew exactly what I’d had once I walked out, slightly tipsy Lunchtruck in hand. Heather Clark is a culinary genius and deserves all the fawning comments she’s received. Seriously, that may have been one of the best meals I’ve ever had, and unlike most restaurants, her desserts were not a boring after-thought.

My suggestion? If you do one thing, have her chocolate souffle – it takes a while, it’s not always available, but if you’re a chocolate fan you may end up pulling a Meg Ryan in the restaurant a la “When Harry Met Sally”. Not a chocolate fan? No problem – I tried the pavlova with fresh strawberries, lemon gelato and mint leaves. Yum.

Sunshine Diner at 2649 West Broadway is just plain fun. From the first time I laid eyes on it, I knew no matter what the service, I was going to be a happy camper walking out, and I was right. The decor is a happy blend of the typical black and white tile flooring, red and blue walls and accents everywhere, and neon,neon, neon.

The memorabilia is amazing; mostly Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, James Dean and the Beatles, other famous icons such as Betty Boop, James Cagney, Audrey Hepburn are highlighted. A great touch are the framed photographs of diners from across Canada and the US. As for the food? You won’t be disappointed. This place is known for it’s eggs Benedict, so naturally I’ve been working my way through the different variations. Shakes don’t go well with breakfast, so I opted to enjoy a cup of tea instead, and even that rocked. Between their food and their music (70’s disco, would you believe??) the place has a happy energy that’s hard to resist.

So there you have it. Bon Appetit!