Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Good news

Hello to all my wonderful readers! It would appear as if my blog has caught the attention of Air Canada in quite a good way. I have been offered to take one lucky reader to Vancouver for an all expense paid trip on June 4th 2015 to June 11th 2015. Is this incredible or what.  We will start our trip by staying in the Fairmount in Downtown Vancouver for 2 days where you will get to pick 4 restaurant of your choosing to eat plus get a free tour of the city.   You had better believe that we will definitely pay a visit to Granville Island! After that we will be flying out to the Vancouver Islands to visit the pristine Nimmo Bay Resort for 4 glorious days of hiking, swimming, fishing and a helicopter tour of the area.  Their chef is super talented and the food is so fresh and so good you may gain weight even with all the hiking.  We will return to the great city of Vancouver for the remaining three days of our trip. While there we will have a shopping trip on Robson St. (Vancouver’s Rodeo Dr.), spend some time enjoying the pine forests on Stanley Island, take in some dim sum in Chinatown and visit as many as the amazing place I discussed in my blog that we can pack into this mind blowing trip.

Now I bet you are asking yourself  “how can I get in on this amazing offer?” Well my friends it is quite simple. All you have to do is write a 400 word essay on why you love Vancouver and want to go see this amazing city. You then must submit you essay to me on my blog by December 25th 2014 and a winner will be decided by me and announced on my site on January 15th 2015!

Now there are some rules to this essay. It must have proper grammar and punctuation. There may be no profanity, racism, creedism, sexisum or any hate speech in the esay. You must be 19+ to be eligible to go with me and have a current passport and up to date vaccine record.  You must have a clean criminal back ground with no past crimes. You may not wear the color blue on Sundays. You may not breath more than 550 times per hour.  Finally you may not use a “S” in your essay.

Best of luck to everyone who submits an essay and may the best one win!

things to do 2

As I said in previous blog posts you will never run out of things to do in Vancouver

and if for some reason you do than there is definitely something wrong with you!  I

thought I would share some more of my favorite places to visit.

Granville Island Public Market is an absolute must visit.  The food there is so

amazing and so fresh.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  When I was

there this past August the berries were so plump and fresh you just wanted to eat

them by the handful.  My mom kept saying she wished she could take a bunch home

and make preserves.  If you can eat and name it you will definitely find it here and if

it is not here then it probably does not exist!  Plan on several hours here so you can

enjoy all the aromas and tastes.  Once you finally select your food (and believe me

that is not easy because there are so many choices) sit outside and watch the boats

go by- just watch out for the seagulls.  The market is surrounded by dozens of

artists’ shops and galleries.  You can literally find everything for 50-cent post cards

to First Nation (we use the term Native American) art costing hundreds of

thousands of dollars.  Great place to get early Christmas shopping done.

Punjabi Market on Main St. is also known as “Little India.”  Here you can find just

about anything from the Indian subcontinent you could possibly want (and probably

some things you don’t want, too).  It is a very colorful area.  Vancouver has a fairly

large Sikh Punjabi population so you are definitely getting the real deal.  A word of

caution thought, just like in Chinatown, keep your eyes on your wallet and be very

respectful of taking peoples pictures.

Capilano Suspension Bridge is towards Grouse Mountain going by Lion’s Gate

Bridge.  This narrow wooden bridge supposed to be the longest bridge of its kind

anywhere in the world.  It literally swings when you walk across it.

Treetops Adventure is in Capilano Park and is a series of cable bridges and

platforms with some as high as 100 feet in the air.  This particular adventure is not

for me because I have an issue with heights, but everyone I have told about enjoyed

it and thought it was a really cool thing to do.  Who knows- maybe some day I will

get my nerve up and go all the way to the top.


As I said before, unlike other parts of Canada that get incredibly, bitter cold and

snowy in the winter, Vancouver is in a temperate rain forest and never gets all that

cold (but it can get really rainy in the winter).  There are all sorts of opportunities

for outdoor activities and here are some of my very favorite things to do.

Of course, as I already mentioned in a previous post, you absolutely have to go do

something at Stanley Park:  that is an absolute must.

Mount Seymour Provincial Park is just thirty minutes from downtown Vancouver

and is great place to go if you are really serious about hiking.  The trails can be very

challenging, but the views are worth the effort.  A work of caution:  be sure to read

any signs posted about the weather because bad weather can real make the hiking


Lighthouse Park, which is in West Vancouver, is great if you want something far less

strenuous.  This 185-acre park has some fairly easy trails the weave through first-

growth stands of Douglas firs and western re cedar.  It is worth the walk just to get

to smell the aroma- think Christmas in July.  Believe it or not some of these trees are

well over 500 years old.  I think that is something truly amazing.  The trail ends at

Point Atkinson Lighthouse.

Pacific Spirit Park is located in West Vancouver near the University of British

Columbia and is over 2000 acres.  It is truly a hidden gem that not that many people

visit (Stanley Park is half this size and it can get very crowded at times).  This park

has beautiful beaches where you and enjoy watching the waves on the ocean in

peace and quiet.  It also has a forest, tidal flats and estuaries.  There are a number of

nice trails and because there are not that many people you have a really good shot at

seeing some wildlife in action in a natural setting.  The views here are nothing short

of spectacular.  I like to come here when Stanley Park gets a little too crowded.

Here, I can enjoy the scenery basically uninterrupted and my walks almost become a

kind of walking meditation.  I debated sharing this spot with you because I don’t

want to see it get too crowded.  I love having a quiet place to go and hang out and

that can be hard to do in a major metropolitan city!  Let’s just keep this our secret.


Vancouver is full of interesting places and unique experiences.  It would take a

lifetime to see and do everything this vibrant city has to offer.  I do, however, have a

number of suggestions to get you off and exploring this amazing and incredible city.

Chinatown is east of the city near Main and Hastings and is the second largest in

North America.  You will truly forget you are in Canada when you are touring the

streets there.  There are tons of Cantonese, Mandarin, Szechuan, Vietnamese and

dim sum restaurants there.  It is definitely best to walk because there is literally now

where to park.  Be sure to pay a visit to the Chinese Cultural Center and Dr. Sun Yat-

Sen Classical Chinese Garden.  A word of caution:  do watch you wallet.  Also, be

careful about taking pictures of people as sum absolutely do not want their pictures

taken and you might find yourself in a situation you really do not want to be in.

Stanley Park is north of the city center right in between Vancouver and West

Vancouver.  It is an incredibly gorgeous 1,000 acre park that was established in

1888.  It is one of the largest parks in North America and may well be the most

beautiful, too.  Inside the park are all sorts of different trails, restaurants, museums,

playgrounds, totem polls and of course the famed Vancouver Aquarium (I’ll discuss

that in another post).  While there you can walk, roller skate, ride a horse or take a

bus tour.  This is a definite place you have to include on any visit to Vancouver no

matter how many times you have been there.

VanDusen Botanical Gardens is just four miles south of downtown at the

intersection of Oak and 37th.  It is the most amazing botanical garden I have ever

seen.  It was originally owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway, and then became a

golf club and then in 1975, after ten years of hard work and planning, it officially

opened as a botanical garden.  The gardens cover 55 acres and there are over

255,000 plants from all parts of the world.  The nice thing about the mild climate in

Vancouver (and remember it is in a temperate rain forest) is that you can visit the

gardens anytime of year and there is always something interesting going on.  The

gardens are open daily from 10:00a.m. to 9:00 p.m. June through August and close

earlier at other times of the year.

More Food

OK, so you are still hungry, but you want something maybe a little more trendy or

something that is a little more on the lighter side, why don’t you check out some of

my other favorites.

Salt Tasting Room is my mom’s absolute favorite place to go plus it is in Gastown,

which is a fun and trendy area to be.  They specialize in artisanal chesses, small-

batch cured meats and she loves what she calls their ‘amazing’ wine selection.  They

keep their menu very simple.  You get a “tasting plate’ and then pick ten cheeses, ten

meats and ten condiments.  Mom’s favorite is the Guinness grainy mustard and the

rosemary marinated olives (I like those a lot, too).  The selections change almost

daily.  (45 Blood Alley) 604-633-1912.

Db Bistro Moderne is one of Daniel Boulud’s restaurants (he is a very talented chef

and owns several restaurants in and around Vancouver).  At this location he

combines traditional French cuisine with Pacific Northwest cuisine.  His menu

varies seasonally and is always super fresh. (2551 West Broadway) 604—739-7115.

Caffe Artigiano is an Italian styled coffee house that is very well known in

Vancouver.  Many of the baristas have won awards.  In addition to their very artfully

created coffees, they also feature Panini’s.  I really like the Brie and grilled veggies.

They have six locations throughout Vancouver.

Tomato Fresh Food CafĂ©’ serves delicious food for the health conscious.  There

salads are loaded with crisp veggies and unique dressings. (3305 Cambie) 604-874-


49th Parallel Coffee Roasters serves the best espresso in town and have mouth

watering almond croissants, too.  This makes a really great breakfast and or quick

pick me up after a day of sightseeing.  (2152 West Fourth Avenue) 604-420-4901.

Solly’s Bagelry has three really popular locations in Vancouver.  Their large

selections of bagels are dense and flavorful and they slather them in all sorts of

cream cheeses.  There soups are good (but maybe not the best for the money).  640-


Go Fish is a very popular (but very dicey looking) seafood shack at the wharf near

Granville Island (a great place to visit and we will discuss that in future posts).  If the

seafood were any fresher is would still be in the ocean!  They do their fish and chips

with a touch of toasted sesame oil and it can’t be beat.  (1005 West First Avenue).


Bella Gelateria makes really good handcrafted Italian style gelato that actually won

two first prizes at the Gelato Festival in Florence Italy.  My favorite is their pecan

and maple syrup.  (1001 West Cordova St.)


As promised here is my list of my favorite ethnic restaurants in Vancouver.

Montri’s Thai is a very small- only twenty tables- restaurants that serves food that is

going to make you think you are absolute royalty.  In fact their chef- Montri

Rattanaraj- has actually cooked for the King of Thailand!  This restaurant has also

won a lot of awards including a popular vote from Vancouver Magazine for the Best

Thai Restaurant, which they have won since 1999.  Now that is saying something

about the high quality of their food! (3629 West Broadway) 604-738-9888.

Imperial Chinese Seafood Restaurant is a restaurant I cannot recommend highly

enough.  It has absolutely incredible Chinese food plus it has spectacular views of

Stanley Park. (Burrard and Hastings) 604-688-8191.

Won More Szechuan Cuisine is similar, to Imperial Chinese Seafood but the dishes it

serves are quite a bit spicier.  This is the perfect spot after a relaxing walk along

beautiful English Bay Beach. (1944 West Fourth) 604-688-8856.

Le Crocodile is known for their outstanding French food.  I really like this

restaurant, but sometimes the food is a little too rich for me.  It is in a very quite and

secluded setting. (Berrard and Smith) 604-669-04298.

La Quercia is renowned for its hearty Northern Italian food that is extremely

delicious.  They make great use of local and organic ingredients.  The atmosphere is

very casual, but beware this restaurant is very expensive (really worth every penny,

though).  (3689 W. Forth) 604-676-1007

Star Anise is another very popular French restaurant.  It is less expensive than La

Quercia is, but it is also smaller so best to have reservations (in fact it is almost

impossible to get into without them).

Tojo’s has some of the top quality sushi and is definitely Vancouver’s number one

choice as a Japanese and sushi restaurant. (777West Broadway) 604-737-1485.

Hoshi Sushi is probably Trojo’s biggest competition.  I actually prefer Hoshi because

it is right in Chinatown and you can’t beat the atmosphere. (645 Main St) 604-689-


Vij’s is an interesting Indian restaurant and one my mom really likes a lot.  They use

Indian spices and techniques and combine them with locally sourced ingredients

that has gotten them much critical acclaim in the local press.  One of their more

unique dishes is a wine-marinated lamb ‘popsicle’ in fenugreek cream curry.  Yum-

need I say more. (1480 West !1th Avenue) 604-736-6664.

Legendary Noodle is a Malaysian inspired restaurant that serves heaping portions of

noodles that are fairly inexpensive (at least in terms of restaurant costs in

Vancouver).  Watch out because their food can be addictive especially if you love

pho as much as I do.  Their broth is super flavorful and the garlic lamb is especially

tasty.  I don’t know why, but they are closed on Thursday. (4191 Main St.) 604-879-


Monday, November 24, 2014


Vancouver has more than its fair share of great food and wonderful restaurants.  It has it all everything from cute little neighborhood bistros to fashionable downtown restaurants.  Many of these make great use of regional seafood and locally grown produce.  Also, since Vancouver has such a high immigrant population- especially Chinese- there are tons of ethnic choices, too (but those are for another post).  These are some of my favorites and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Bishops is considered to be one of the very best restaurants in the city using a lot of organic and regionally sourced ingredients.  The food is very eclectic and is known for its super fresh seafood dishes.  Their desserts use a lot of fresh berries (at least in the summer) and melt in your mouth (Yew and W. Fourth) 604-738-2025.

Hawksworth in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia is known for its contemporary Canadian cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. Their breakfast plates are huge so you will not need lunch.  (801 W. Georgia St.) 604-879-7000.

Chambar Restaurant is a Belgian restaurant with fantastic food in a relaxed atmosphere.  The signature dish (which is really popular in Belgium) is moules-frites, which is one of my very favorites:  mussels and fries. (562 Beatty) 604-879-7119

CinCin is where you might see some celebrities.  It is a rustic Mediterranean style restaurant that is kind of Old World meets New World.  The service is incredible.  (1154 Robson- heart of the shopping district) 604-688-7338

Tapastree is known for its enormous tapas style small plates.  They have incredible salads, vegetable plates, seafood and meats and really tasty side dishes, too.  This restaurant is very casual which I like. (1829 Robson almost to the corner of Denman) 604-606-4680.

Aurora Bistro uses local ingredients in innovative and creative ways and calls it “modern Canadian cuisine.”  (2420 Main St.) 604-873-9944.

Nicli Antica Pizzeria is known for its authentic Neapolitan pies.  They have great soups, salads and antipasti, too.  The one thing you absolutely have to try is one of their out of this world thin-crust, wood-fired pizzas.  They have both traditional and seasonal toppings, but no matter what you choose you can’t go wrong.   Enjoy. (62 E. Cordova St) 604-669-6985.

Raincity Grill is absolutely legendary and is considered a Vancouver classic.  They are known for their Northwest cuisine and their seafood is super fresh.

Well, now my mouth is watering and I’m really, really hungry. Creon’s anyone?