• Archives
  • Aug20

    Tea House in Stanley Park-3

    A former garrison and officer’s mess during World War II, Vancouver’s Teahouse in Stanley Park is steeped in our city’s history. Post-war, the house served as a military residence, later opening as the Ferguson Point Tea Room during the summer.

    The restaurant was owned by Hungarian couple Steve and Eva Floris who escaped Soviet-occupied Hungary after surviving the Holocaust. They emigrated to Vancouver in 1949, and obtained a lease from the Vancouver Park Board to operate then-named Art Gallery Tea Room in Stanley Park. Steve and Eva sold the restaurant in 1964 and went into real estate. Long retired and more comfortable with his word processing skills, Steve later documented their war-time and displaced persons (DP)-refugee experiences in a memoir, Escape From Pannonia.

    The house fell into a state of disrepair in the 70’s, later renovated and reopened in 1978 as the Teahouse Restaurant.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-7

    The Teahouse is part of the Sequoia company of restaurants, located in the choicest parts of Vancouver: Seasons in the Park in Queen E Park, Cardero’s in Coal Harbour, and The Sandbar on Granville Island.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-20 Tea House in Stanley Park-6

    Over 35 years later, the Stanley Park destination dining spot is still going strong with diners booking into the tea room, drawing room, conservatory, and on fine days, the patio. We were lucky to enjoy dinner with one of Vancouver’s best settings at sundown.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-4 Tea House in Stanley Park-2

    A quick walk just outside the Teahouse, and you’re right at English Bay, where tourists and locals alike gather for the evening show with a stunning mountain backdrop. The restaurant is set amongst lush manicured gardens including colourful flowers and palm trees that take on golden hues with the setting sun.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-9 Tea House in Stanley Park-10

    Clientele here is mixed between families, couples, groups, and out-of-towners. We started the evening off with an array of appetizers, including heirloom tomatoes served with both house-made hummus and marinated bocconcini, smoked salmon on cucumber slices, and gluten-free crostini with wild mushroom, parmesan and mascarpone cheeses, baby shrimp, and balsamic reduction.

    Tea House in Stanley Park starters

    Alongside a list of summer cocktails (Cucumber Smash, Spiked Palmer, sangria, etc.), we ordered the Summer Haze, the current featured cocktail. Oksana tequila is mixed with grapefruit and pineapple juices, cherries, and champagne on top. Very colourful and refreshing alongside our first bites. The cherry flavour comes right to the top of the palate and nicely complements the rest of the juices and champagne making for a great sipper.

    Tea House's Summer Haze

    Assistant Bar Managers Mennie, Jordan, and Rob work together with Floor and Bar Manager Sandy. They like being challenged to invent new concoctions, and often attend a Sunday bartending school to hone their skills.

    BC and international reds, whites, bottled and draft beer, bourbon, whiskey, rye, scotch, liqueurs, dessert wine, and port complete the restaurant’s drink offerings.

    Sockeye salmon, crab cakes, lemon-caper purée

    My entrée featured wild, line-caught Sockeye salmon with crab cakes, and lemon/caper purée dots gracing the artfully-presented dish. The salmon’s crisp crust was excellent and complimented the flavour of the fish and its accompanying seasonal veggies (broccolini, asparagus, and beans, all neatly tucked into a packet wrapped with a strip of greens), plus a roasted heirloom Roma tomato. Crab cakes were moist and contained some filling but not enough to mask the crab. Most of the seafood dishes here are Oceanwise-sanctioned.

    Beef tenderloin, grilled jumbo tiger prawns, seasonal veggies

    My husband was served the AAA beef tenderloin, with a skewer of four grilled jumbo tiger prawns, seasoned veggies and a roasted Roma, alongside herbed potatoes. The beef was juicy and tender, with a nice red wine demi-glace. The shrimps weren’t as tender as they could have been, perhaps grilling for a minute less would have solved the issue.

    The herbed potatoes contained a lovely, soft olive oil taste. We also tried some of Teahouse’s famous (read addictive) double-baked, thin pomme frites. Once our friendly server John mentioned them, we had our order in. Speaking of service, two words: top notch.

    The beef tenderloin went nicely with a glass of Burrowing Owl’s Cabernet Franc 2012, a medium-bodied red that added some spice to the beef.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-13

    Desserts came courtesy of in-house pastry chef Noel, who overseas a small but well-varied dessert menu. The chocolate Milano cake is a triple-chocolate mousse delight served atop an almond wafer crust, while the white chocolate cheesecake has a lovely cherry coulis and graham cracker crust.

    Triple chocolate mousse cake with almond wafter crust Vanilla bean creme brulee White chocolate cheesecake with cherry coulis

    We also enjoyed a vanilla bean crème brûlée, happy that we’d saved room for dessert! The crème contains vanilla bean flecks, its crackly top golden. All three choices we tried were satisfying, though we were torn between the Milano cake and the crème brûlée. Not to discount the cheesecake—it too had a lovely, soft taste with a juicy amount of cherries on top.

    White chocolate cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake, creme brulee

    The Teahouse in Stanley Park is located at Ferguson Point in Stanley Park and is open for lunch Monday to Friday, 11:30 am to 4 pm, dinner seven nights a week from 4 pm to late, weekend and holiday brunch, 10 am to 3 pm, and small plates on Saturday and Sunday, 3 to 4 pm.

    Check out their Sunday night prime rib dinner, where for $27.50, you can order AAA slow-roasted prime rib with seasonal veggies, or choose the three-course option for $35, including Caesar salad, prime rib, and a piece of that amazing chocolate mousse cake.

    Tea House in Stanley Park-5

    There’s metered parking outside and down the road, but this romantic spot is also easily reached via bike. The Teahouse is ideal for hosting visitors, or for simply getting through a busy afternoon and winding down in our city’s own gorgeous backyard.

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    We were guests of the Teahouse in Stanley Park for the purpose of experiencing the restaurant and its ambiance.

  • Aug19

    Desert Hills wines at Sea to Sky Gondola
    [Image by Paul Bride]

    If you’ve not yet had the chance to experience the Sea to Sky Gondola with its tremendous views, now’s your chance! On Saturday, August 30, an inaugural winemakers dinner will take place at the top of the gondola, in the Summit Lodge’s Diamond Head Room. This promises to be a special night with views over the Howe Sound at 887 meters high!

    Landsea Tours Media Trip-22 Landsea Tours Media Trip-18

    The Sea to Sky Gondola is located between the Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls. Come early and take in the incredible scenery. There’s also a 100-meter suspension bridge to enjoy, just off to the side of the lodge.

    Desert Hills Estate Gewurztraminer Desert Hills Estate Mirage

    The five-course dinner will feature BC’s Desert Hills Estate wines, a family-owned boutique winery located on Black Sage Bench (outside Oliver), some of the most sought-after Okanagan terroir.

    Desert Hills vineyards

    Sitting on 24 acres of some of the finest vineyards on the Bench, the Okanagan winery is located between Black Hills and Burrowing Owl wineries – an ideal source for the grapes. Winemaker George Phiniotis has gradually taken over winemaking from his father, Elias Phiniotis, PhD, for the Toor family. With over three decades of wine-making learned from his Dad (in addition to having worked at Domaine de Chaberton), George produces award-winning wines.

    “The best grapes in BC are the ones right outside this window,” adds Phiniotis, pointing to the vineyard beside the wine shop. “The incredible grape growing conditions at DH’s Black Sage Bench vineyard play an integral role in the wines’ quality but great attention to the craft, like precision blending and patient cellaring is equally important. Details like these are what have garnered the winery two Lieutenant General Governor of Canada Awards”.

    The menu
    Upon Arrival
    Rose ‘Helena’ 2012
    Smoked albacore tuna with melon salsa

    First Course
    Unoaked Chardonnay 2012
    Herb goat cheese tart topped with an apple pear salad

    Second Course
    Gewurtztraminer 2012
    Seafood Thai green curry with jasmine rice

    Third Course
    Gamay 2012
    Grilled lamb leg with sauce verte accompanied with roasted summer vegetables

    Dessert
    Mirage 2008
    Dark chocolate torte with a blackberry compote

    Desert Hills Estate Chardonnay

    Desert Hills Estate Winery Winemaker’s Dinner
    Date: Saturday August 30, 7 pm

    Venue: Diamond Head Room in the Summit Lodge, Squamish

    Tickets: $89 + taxes and gratuity (note price does not include gondola access. Special event pricing for gondola tickets available with dinner purchase.

    Landsea Tours Media Trip-10

    For reservations and tickets, phone 604.892.2550 x 2565 or visit Guest Relations at the Sea to Sky gondola base.

  • Aug11

    Boulevard VIP Launch-9

    Last week, VIP, media, and guests were invited to sample some of Chef Alex Chen’s West coast dishes and seafood at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-12 Boulevard VIP Launch-10

    The elegantly-designed, 290-seat restaurant is home to a variety of beautifully prepared seafood, meats, and seasonal risottos and pasta dishes presented with West coast flair.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-6 Boulevard VIP Launch-21

    Boulevard aims for a cross between a traditional European bistro feel with shades of black and cream, Parisian-inspired domed awnings, and pergolas, mixing old and new styles and detailing. Sleek lighting fixtures mingle with dainty ceiling moldings to create a rich, yet casual atmosphere.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-11 Boulevard Vancouver interior
    [Bottom photo courtesy of Boulevard Vancouver]

    A private dining room, lounge, 12-seat oyster bar and wrap-around patio complete the picture. Located right on Burrard in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Boulevard welcomes diners for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night menu service.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-19 Boulevard VIP Launch-3
    [Professor Suzuki: Thyme-infused vodka, sea buckthorn, cranberry liqueur, cranberry juice, BC honey, lime]

    Signature cocktails, international and BC wines, and beer complete the seafood-focused menu. Bar Manager Justin Taylor and his team shake up bellinis, caesars, wild mules, Van Dusen sours, and others using high-quality local craft spirits, house-made syrups, and infusions.

    Christophe Bonzon of Chez Christophe with Alex Chen
    [Christophe Bonzon of Chez Christophe with Alex Chen]

    Malaysian-born Executive Chef Alex Chen’s previously worked at Beverly Hills Hotel’s Polo Lounge, as well as Four Seasons Hotel Chicago and Toronto. He apprenticed under Chef Robert Sulatycky at Vancouver’s Wedgewood Hotel & Spa. Spending time along the West coast has brought forth his love for seafood, and judging by the dishes that were passed around that evening, he’s passionate about presentation, locally-sourced ingredients, and taste.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-7 Boulevard VIP Launch-8

    Together with Chef de Cuisine Roger Ma, Justin Taylor, Maître d’ Brian Hopkins, Robert “Oyster Bob” Skinner, Wine Director Lisa Haley, and Director of Operations Steve Edwards, Boulevard will likely become one of the city’s most talked-about dining experiences for years to come.

    I’m anxious to return here to try the seafood tower, containing wild sidestripe shrimp ceviche, Albacore tuna poke, Read Island mussel escabèche, Dungeness Crab Louie, snow crab legs, wild shrimp, and local oysters.

    Boulevard VIP Launch-17 Boulevard VIP Launch-18
    [L to R: Gorgeous upcycled chandelier in private room; house-made desserts and chocolates]

    Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar is located at 845 Burrard Street in Vancouver. More of my Boulevard VIP opening photos can be found here.

  • Jul28

    Joe Fortes Brunch-4

    With a wide grin from Maitre d’ Frenchy at the Joe Fortes door, we knew we’d be well taken care of on our recent outing to one of Vancouver’s best-loved steak and seafood restaurants.

    Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House turns 30 next year, its name taken from Seraphin “Joe” Fortes, a Barbados-born sailor who arrived here in 1885 and became a popular figure in our city’s early culture. A competitive swimmer, Joe was appointed the city’s first official lifeguard at the turn of the 20th century, after teaching so many kids at the beach to swim. Before becoming a lifeguard, Joe was a bartender.
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  • Jul25

    Vancouver 2014 Golden Dumpling Cook Off poster detail

    Back by popular demand, Vancouver’s Second Annual Dumpling Cook Off joins forces with the TD Vancouver Chinatown Festival on August 10 for the second annual celebration of one of the world’s greatest comfort foods. Serving the savoury morsels street-side, traditional Chinese restaurants will cook up the classics while the city’s hippest hotspots will plate fresh takes on the filling-and-wrapper format.

    An expert panel of judges will taste their way through entries from 20 restaurants battling to fill, wrap, steam, and fry their way to the top. The victorious challenger will win full bragging rights and claim the Golden Dumpling trophy.
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  • Jul24

    Globe at YVR Airport-6

    One of the first things on people’s minds when checking into an airport is getting through airport security in order to board their plane on time. And while most airports feature the usual selection of chain restaurants (and if you’re lucky, a genuine local favourite), most meals are quickly consumed or taken to-go for the flight.

    Globe at YVR Airport-17

    What if you arrived at the airport ahead of time and indulged in a gorgeous meal, or sandwich for your flight? And what if that restaurant seemed miles away from the bustling gates and their frenzied passengers, yet still in the airport?

    Globe at YVR Airport-5

    Enter Globe@YVR, Fairmont Vancouver’s answer to proper airport dining. Located just off the US Departures level, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport has recently been ranked North America’s #1 airport hotel. Just inside the hotel’s entrance, Globe@YVR seats 130 hungry passengers (and diners) with a prime view of the plane-spotting action.

    Globe at YVR Airport-2
    [Globe@YVR's Executive Chef Karan Suri]

    Earlier this week, I had the chance to meet new Executive Chef Karan Suri and sit down for a seven-course lunch (small plates, I assure you!) while learning about Suri’s background and impressive resume. Chef Suri has worked in kitchens all over the world. He began his career in 2005 in his native country, at New Delhi’s Oberoi Group, and has worked in Singapore, Dubai, Africa, and now—Vancouver.

    Some of the Michelen-starred chefs he’s had the pleasure of working with include Alain Passard, Phil Howard, and Nicolas LeBec. In Dubai, he oversaw the culinary team at both Fire and Ice, Cellar & Grill, as well as at Azur, during a two-year stint.

    Before leaving Asia, he oversaw the launch of prestigious Leela Palace (as sous chef), working at the resort’s signature restaurants Le Cirque and Megu.

    Globe at YVR Airport-9

    Now in Vancouver, his motto is “locally-sourced, globally-inspired” cuisine. Globe@YVR works with Fraser Valley farmers and only uses Oceanwise-sanctioned seafood in dishes included on a widely-varied menu. After all, according to Suri, “You’re catering to a huge clientele of people in different time zones”. Flexibility is key to keeping travellers happy, whether they’re about to fly or have just landed and are in need of anything from nourishing to comfort-style foods.

    Globe at YVR Airport-10

    We started by preparing our own fish tacos in the kitchen, using Chef Suri’s potato-flecked fish bites and an array of condiments. I decided to sample a trio of craft beers from the restaurant’s draught selection, including smooth, mildly-sweet Fairmont Honey Lager, prepared with the hotel’s own bee hives. Joining the trio is Whistler Black Tusk Ale and Driftwood’s Fat Tug IPA. All provided excellent flavour profiles to both the fish tacos and our starter of lamb croquette, scallops with duck confit, and a Fraser Valley lamb burger.

    Globe at YVR Airport-11
    [Fairmont's own Honey Lager, Whistler Black Tusk Ale, Driftwood Brewery's Fat Tug IPA]

    The lamb croquette is seasoned with sumac and lamb jus, while the scallops have a rhubarb glaze. The Fraser Valley lamb burger is enhanced with baba ganoush, feta cheese, and an in-house made sourdough ciabatta. By this time, two BC wines were poured for our meal: Blasted Church’s 2010 Cabernet/Merlot, and Church & State’s Chardonnay. Unexpected but providing an excellent compliment to both lamb burger and lamb croquette was the chardonnay, with its crisp bite and vanilla oak finish. Let’s just say that both the Cab/Merlot and the Chardonnay went down smoothly with all three bites.

    Globe at YVR Airport-12

    Another unexpected surprise: the kitchen team brought out braised short rib with creamy mashed potatoes topped with a baby balsamic onion—in a sealed tin! When we each opened our tin, the rich, delightful aroma of the short rib came came up to greet my nose. This dish paired nicely with both the Fat Tug IPA and the Black Tusk Ale.

    Globe at YVR Airport-7

    Nothing says BC like Skeena salmon. Chef Suri heightens a simple dish of salmon and leeks by cooking them in vegetable ash; this imparts a lovely smoky flavour to the dish. Adding to the plate is a tiny scoop of dehydrated Roma tomatoes, roasted baby spinach, and a drizzle of herbed oil. The leeks (together with celery) are burnt-on-grill on high heat until charred. Ash cooking is a hot trend in London at the moment.

    This is truly a dish for fish lovers!

    Globe at YVR Airport-13

    A goat cheese and beet root salad followed as a nice palate-cleanser. Toasted walnuts accompany colourful beets prepared four ways: pickled, fresh, chip, and roasted, along with puréed beet root for added flavour and colour on the plate. Mature Valencay goat cheese from Agassiz’s Farm House Cheeses is also ash-laden, to keep in theme with the Skeena salmon. It’s delightful, and we’re lucky to have so many beautifully-coloured beets available in this neck of the woods, AND intelligent chefs who know how to make them sing.
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  • Jul23

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-2

    Last Friday, media were invited to check out the nearly-completed and expanded Chambar Restaurant, located next to the current Beatty Street location in Crosstown Vancouver.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-5

    A city favourite for years, Chambar is three-star-Michelin-trained chef Nico and wife Karri Schuermans’ vision of Belgian and North African cuisine melded into a diverse menu of appetizers, moules frites, plus lamb, duck, venison, and sustainably-caught seafood dishes.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-3

    Karri will oversee the new space’s design, with blood red booths, Italian-designed chairs, and a rotating art collection on the walls. The 1912 heritage elements have been preserved and complement the brick and wood walls. Resin-covered table tops with walnut inlays, plus a custom-designed communal table that can seat up to 10 diners will move to the new space.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-12

    The restaurant’s bar will feature prominently towards the front of the establishment. Although covered at present, we’ve been told that it’s inlaid with walnut and tined resin, perfect for enjoying some of Chambar’s award-winning cocktails, wide range of wines, and beers, one brewed just for the restaurant. We found it immensely refreshing on the warm, late afternoon day of our visit.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-10

    A side patio will seat 50 diners away from the street. There’ll be enough space to accommodate 270 diners between the restaurant’s two levels. I personally can’t wait to see what the lighting will look like together with all the thoughtful touches when opening day arrives.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-4
    [A much larger kitchen downstairs]

    Chambar is also proud of their extensive wine collection, including eight wines by the glass, 50 international whites, 75 international reds, 25 BC wines, and 15 sparkling wines.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-6
    [Summer sippers between the construction]

    The restaurant’s name is derived from a loosely translated French saying, “When the teacher leaves the room, all the kids go crazy”. In other words, enjoy a fun night on the town here with friends, good food, and drink. In addition to dinner, Chambar will also start offering breakfast, lunch, brunch, and a late-night tapas menu.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-8

    As we walked through the main floor, downstairs kitchen, and side rooms, we kept imagining the finished product through the dust and machinery. An outside rooftop deck with gorgeous city views in the adjacent building is also available for booking special dinners and events.

    Chambar Restaurant Preview-7 Chambar Restaurant Preview-9

    Chambar as we know it will close in two weeks, with the larger space opening shortly thereafter at 568 Beatty Street in Vancouver.

  • Jul3

    Pizza Fabrika-9

    Take three friends (and former restaurant owners) and a straightforward menu and you’ll arrive at Pizza Fabrika, a West End pizza joint on Robson near Cardero Street, open for just two weeks. This fully-licensed pizzeria aims to please with yeast-leavened sourdough thin-crust pizzas, side dishes, and dessert jars.

    Pizza Fabrika-6

    Owners Michael and Steven formerly co-owned La Brasserie on Davie Street. Recognizing a need for a cozy, family-style pizzeria in town, they united to form Fabrika, a term used in several European countries that translates to factory in English.

    Pizza Fabrika-8

    The menu contains Canadian, Australian, and German-inspired dishes, including the Flammkuchen pizza (double-smoked bacon, crispy pork crackling, house-made crème fraîche, and caramelized onion), Dukkah, a tasty Middle Eastern dish (currently popular in Australia): bowls of crushed toasted hazelnuts mixed with aromatic spices and extra virgin olive oil (both great dipping companions!) with warm bread sticks, plus favourites Margherita Fabrika pizza and beer bison meatballs.

    Pizza Fabrika Dukkah appetizer
    [Pizza Fabrika's Dukkah]

    White, red, and rose wines are poured by the glass, carafe, or bottle. Beers are mostly served in cans and bottles, ranging from Red Racer ISA to Pilsner Urquell. The 25-seater keeps Steamworks on tap; there isn’t much room to expand their draught offerings just yet.

    Pizza Fabrika interior
    [Photo courtesy Pizza Fabrika]

    A couple of high tables in the center of the room and at the window form the main seating; a row of booths against the wall seats smaller groups. Industrial-strength Metro shelving holds wine bottles, beer, and supplies above, making productive use of their limited space.

    Pizza Fabrika-10

    Large sacks of pizza flour sit inside the front window. The interior’s sleek design features dark wood and concrete table tops, and it doesn’t take long for us to settle in and feel right at home here. The owners and staff are friendly and efficient. Even though we dined on Canada Day and a large birthday party took up the majority of the space, we were looked after and our food arrived hot.

    The owners believe that using sourdough in their pizza recipe is better suited to take-out orders — Neopolitan pizza tends to go soggy after about 10 minutes.

    Their sauce recipe uses raw San Marzano DOP-certified tomatoes, with extra-virgin olive oil and Kosher salt, while the cheese is a combination of full-fat Canadian mozzarella and Danish Fontina.

    Pizza Fabrika Bison meatball/roasted red pepper pizza
    [Pizza Fabrika Bison meatball/roasted red pepper pizza]

    The rustic-style pizzas have an airy and crispy crust, and their 12” size will serve one to two people, especially if you order a couple of sides. Prices range from $16 to $18 (there’s a kids pizza for $13 called the Bambino, with Fabrika cheese blend and tomato sauce).

    Pizza Fabrika Caprese salad appetizer
    [Pizza Fabrika Caprese salad]

    The Caprese salad has delightfully fluffy fior di latte, fresh basil, thinly-sliced onions and yellow tomatoes, an excellent way to start dinner.

    Pizza Fabrika Duck proscuitto/fresh pea shoots pizza
    [Pizza Fabrika Duck proscuitto/fresh pea shoots pizza]

    Both our pizzas were divine. My husband ordered the bison meatball with roasted red peppers in a spicy tomato sauce, and I went for the lighter duck proscuitto with a fine sprinkling of fresh pea shoots brushed in extra virgin olive oil. Super tasty with a subtle bite to the shoots!

    Pizza Fabrika Lemon tart dessert jar

    We wound down with a Lemon tart dessert jar ($5 each; $6 and you keep the jar to take home). The chilled lemon mixed in with what tasted like bits of crushed graham pie crust offered a refreshing end to a warm, sunny day. There’s always two sorts available with a rotating offering (made in-house). The other choice at the moment is mascarpone chocolate mousse.

    Pizza Fabrika-5

    Reggae music (and later funk and soul) played over the loudspeakers on the night of our visit. Take-out service is also available. Find Pizza Fabrika at 1680 Robson Street. They’re open seven nights a week from 5 pm to midnight.

  • Jun20

    Earl's Summer Kick-off-2

    Last night saw the launch of Earl’s Restaurants’ summer kick-off, to celebrate longer days, patio weather, and a summer menu.

    Earl's Summer Kick-off-1 Earl's Summer Kick-off-8

    A fun new campaign with a ‘It’s on a school night’ theme includes a menu with salads, cedar-planked salmon, crispy Thai prawns, and a Sunday through Thursday special with $5 tacos, nachos, tequilas, margaritas, and Coronas. These deals will last through September 9.

    Earl's Los Cabos chicken tacos
    [Earl's Los Cabos chicken tacos]

    In addition, each day has its own food and drink specials (an excellent Tuesday deal: 12 oz. Driftwood IPA sleeves for $3!).

    Alongside tried-and-true favourites BBQ back ribs, burgers, and a wealth of salads, soups, and sharing plates, comes a very tasty, light prawn and quinoa salad, made festive with avocado, feta cheese, strawberries, candied pecans, in a citrus honey vinaigrette (perfectly paired with a crisp glass of white wine or a sangria).

    Earl's Prawn + Quinoa salad
    [Earl's Prawn + quinoa salad]

    The salad was a great combination of tastes, with the quinoa and crumbled feta so well paired in the citrus honey vinaigrette that I’m hoping to replicate it at home. Los Cabos chicken tacos (served three to an order) are served on soft corn tortillas with Valentina hot sauce.

    Earl's BBQ pork buns
    [Earl's BBQ pork buns]

    Another discovery was the BBQ pork buns, created to look like mini tacos, dressed in a flavourful, not-too-spicy hoisin sauce, garnished with cilantro and roasted peanuts. So tasty!
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  • Jun20

    Peggy's Cove lighthouse

    Peggy’s Cove is a sweet little fishing village located just under an hour outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Known for its lighthouse, the most photographed in North America, the tiny village was founded in 1811. Peggy’s Cove’s settlers relied on fishing, but also planted gardens and raised cattle on the surrounding land.

    Peggy's Cove village

    It’s also been declared a preservation area; The Peggy’s Cove Commission Act, passed in 1962, prohibits development in and around the surrounding village and restricts development within Peggy’s Cove.

    A view from Peggy's Cove lighthouse Nova Scotia June 2014-73

    Artists and photographers embraced Peggy’s Cove, and with road improvements, visitor numbers began to grow. Although the village is laced with numerous souvenir shops, this charming spot remains a working fishing village.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-75

    Nearby Oceanstone Resort is located in Indian Harbour along a calm stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. It was voted as one of the Top Five Wedding Destinations in Canada by Elle Magazine in 2012, and it’s easy to see why couples would want to tie the knot here.

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    The quaint cottages are filled with books, seashells, old china cups and antique furnishings. There’s also rooms and suites at the Inn, ideal for both large and small groups and meetings.

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    Many of the cottages are situated with decks that face onto the water for relaxing with a cup of tea or coffee and a good read. I stayed in the Dovekey (named after the world’s smallest duck), a one-bedroom cottage with living and dining areas, a full bathroom, queen bedroom that opens from the living area via French doors, and a fully-stocked kitchen (with fridge, stove, oven, microwave, toaster, etc.).

    Nova Scotia June 2014-80

    Each cottage is lovingly designed and furnished with romance and relaxation in mind. Across the water sits Paddy’s Head Lighthouse (a pepper-pot style lighthouse), built in 1901 and manned until 1945 after which time power arrived in the community. I spent some time on the deck in the late afternoon admiring it through the trees, with a green glowing lamp burning inside, making for a stunning photo op.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-77

    The Oceanstone Resort’s current owners (the Moore and Dodds families) purchased the property in December 2011, and spent that winter renovating the entire resort.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-83

    The evening following our arrival, our group was invited to dine on the deck at the Captain’s House, where chef Bryan Corkery prepared lobsters, a mean chowder, some fresh corn on the cob and salads, topping the evening feast with strawberry shortcake. Every ingredient is locally sourced, right down to the mint on the shortcake that had been picked mere moments before our arrival.

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    We gathered around the kitchen where chef Bryan demonstrated the fine art of prepping a lobster. The evening was filled with great conversation and Nova Scotia wine.

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    Although there’s a restaurant on the property, Chef Bryan cooks for resort guests. We enjoyed a self-serve continental breakfast in the same spot the next morning before our reluctant departure.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-81

    After just one night here, my relaxation level was high and stress level low. This well-loved gem is worth seeking out if you’re planning a visit to the area. Oceanstone Resort is located at 8650 Peggy’s Cove Road, Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-87

    One of the most rewarding aspects of this trip was a visit to Peggy of the Cove. At first, this brightly-coloured home with a lighthouse and lobster traps appears to come out of nowhere on the road, resembling another tourist stop, but if you take the time to walk up and knock on the front door, you’ll be greeted by Ivan Fraser, wearing his Sou’wester.

    With author Ivan Fraser

    This is Ivan’s childhood home, and he’s lovingly preserved artifacts of his youth in a house that’s been in his family for six generations.

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    There’s a few stories out there describing how the area came to be known as Peggy’s Cove. While the village is likely named after Saint Margaret’s Bay (Peggy being the nickname for Margaret), a popular legend exists, claiming that the name came from the sole survivor of a shipwreck at Halibut Rock near the cove.

    Peggy (of Peggy’s Cove) was the sole survivor of the shipwreck. Her real name was Margaret, but everyone called her Peggy. The story’s hard to prove, and the locals don’t buy it. No one did anything with this legend, until 1996, when Ivan took a photo looking out at sea. An American man pointed out Peggy’s form in the photo; Ivan, an artist, painted the picture, later penning a song (the CD’s for sale in his house, featuring vocalist Melanie Ross), then setting out to write the books.

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    In his first book, he begins Peggy at the age of eight, following the shipwreck at Halibut Rock. Peggy is rescued at daybreak, then rushed off to the closest home to recover. Ivan’s story, Peggy of the Cove, tells the tale of the little girl who survives and is taken in by a local family. She has no recollection of her whereabouts or her given name, so the family decides to call her Peggy.

    Ivan is full of energy as he recounts the tale in his books, showing us his favourite memories on both floors of the home.

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    A movie is in the works after the series of novels. His house is part art gallery, part homage to his family. The books, although works of fiction, show Ivan’s imagination in painting a somewhat realistic story of Peggy and her life here after the shipwreck.

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    Ivan’s a 2009 bronze medal winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Peggy of the Cove: Secrets, his second novel (Best Regional Fiction). A third novel has just been completed.

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    Visit Ivan’s Peggy of the Cove Museum at 10235 Peggy’s Cove Road in Glen Margaret.

    Acadian Maple Products, Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia

    Passing Ivan’s childhood home, a bit further along Route 333 (headed back to Halifax), you’ll enter Upper Tantallon, home of Acadian Maple Products.

    Acadian Maple Products, Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia

    This gourmet family-owned business produces maple syrup and maple syrup products ranging from maple butter to maple chive mix and BBQ sauce. There’s even a maple wine and a Cumberland County maple coffee. All coffees are small-batch 100% Fair Trade certified and organic, and roasted on the premises. Find Acadian Maple Products at 13578 Peggy’s Cove Road in Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia.

    Acadian Maple Products, Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia

    I stayed as a guest of Oceanstone Resort via Tourism Nova Scotia.

  • Jun19

    Nova Scotia June 2014-59

    From my ground-floor queen bedroom, I can hear the early evening final calls of the birds outside in the trees. Such a blissful moment, particularly after a late afternoon spring shower.

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    We’re checked in at The Halliburton House Inn for a night, and I’m happy with everything in this room, from the cozy bed to the period furniture and fireplace.

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    A coffee maker sits on the desk in a corner. A wing-back chair will serve as the perfect spot to relax before dinner at Stories Restaurant next door. As I step outside the room, my eyes are immediately led upward to the curvy wooden staircase.

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    Back in the room, I begin reading about the history of this place, dating back to 1809, when Sir Brenton Halliburton, a soldier, lawyer, and ‘brilliant politician’ purchased the lot, with the house’s construction beginning seven years later.

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    Halliburton presided over the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, retiring from his role as Chief Justice when he passed away in 1860. The siltstone home contained a library, wine cellar, drawing room, dining room, plus seven well-appointed bedrooms. In 1885, the house went up for auction.

    In that same year, the Dalhousie Law School was also looking for a home, purchasing the building to use as its Law School. And through the years, the building was sold, rented, converted, and eventually became an inn.

    In the mid-1980’s, the building again changed ownership and underwent a complete renovation into the Halliburton House Inn. December 1985 saw the building’s registration as a Heritage Property. In 1992, the Inn went on the market, and was purchased by Dr. Bruce Petty and his son Robert (currently the General Manager).

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    The hotel is well-situated near the waterfront, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Pier 21 National Historic Site, Halifax Citadel, and the Old Burying Ground, where I snapped photos one sunny morning of a few of the city’s first citizens, including men of the British Army and of the Royal Navy.

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    [Gravestone of Major General Robert Ross, 1766 - 1814]

    High-speed internet access and a printer can be found in the charming library next to main lobby. A garden courtyard serves as a relaxing green space for guests. A self-service continental breakfast is included with your stay, enjoyed in Stories Restaurant.

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    I can’t say enough great things about Stories. Our group dined there on the evening of our stay. Executive Chef Scott Vail always uses local, fresh ingredients in his dishes that range from breast of guinea hen to Yellowfin tuna grilled rare. Starters range in price from $11 to $16; mains from $28 to $33. The menu changes daily.

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    Freshly-caught Yellowfin tuna was brought in only a few hours ahead of our meal. Pan-seared, rice paper-wrapped sea scallops are gorgeous, served in a ginger sesame vinaigrette.

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    Stories has a a few Nova Scotian aromatic white wines on their menu: Jost Vineyards (Muscat Prost), Blomiden Estate Winery (Tidal Bay), and Nova 7 (Benjamin Bridge). Read more about Nova Scotian wines here.

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    International reds, whites, sparkling wines are also available. I enjoyed a Propellor Brewing IPA with my meal.

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    Desserts are equally beautifully presented and delectable. Our table ordered a flourless chocolate cake and panna cotta to share. Specialty coffees, port, dessert wine, and Fair Trade coffee complete the dessert menu.

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    The Halliburton and Stories at Halliburton Restaurant are located at 5184 Morris Street in Halifax. We were guests of the Halliburton Hotel through Destination Halifax.

  • Jun6

    Saladworks Yaletown-1

    A salad might be the easiest thing to prepare at home, but when you’re on the go, what options do you have for fast, healthy dining? US-based Saladworks has arrived in Canada, having recently opened their first store in Yaletown just over a month ago.

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    Earlier this week, I sat down for lunch with Saladworks’ Canadian Founder/Owner/CEO Paul Lalli, a former Squamish city councillor and family man. Paul is excited to bring this 27-year-old chain north of the border, and owns the Canadian rights to open more shops across the country (Langley will be the next location, with Alberta to follow).
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  • May28

    ARC Dining at Fairmont Waterfront-2

    With the Fairmont Waterfront’s recent $20 million renovation project came time to renew the hotel’s long-standing Heron’s, now minted ARC Dining. Gone is the bar towards the back, replaced with a very accessible chef’s table.

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    Airy, wooden ceiling fixtures now grace ARC, along with a vamped-up, modern menu with branded motto “Life is complicated. Good food shouldn’t be.”
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  • May8

    Hotel Grand Pacific

    When I stayed at the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria, BC last year, I featured the amenities, dining, service, and attention to detail in the rooms and throughout the hotel. The trees were still waiting for their spring leaves, the evenings were somewhat chilly, and I was in town to tour the harbour city and provincial capital.

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    [The view at dusk from my harbour view room]

    On this occasion, I decided to make the Grand Pacific my base for the Fifth Annual Social Media Camp, held at nearby Victoria Conference Centre and focus this article on the convenience of this hotel’s location.

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    I enjoyed a similar harbour-view suite with imposing views of the waterfront, close to both Black Ball Ferry (service to Port Angeles, WA) and Victoria Clipper (passenger service to Seattle). The hotel offers Seattleites ferry/hotel packages to make this an attractive car-free holiday or business trip.

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    The three-hour ferry will take you right from Seattle’s downtown harbour to Victoria, directly opposite the hotel. You can also indulge in a romantic getaway complete with champagne, chocolates, a Lush bath bomb, and breakfast for two.
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  • Apr30

    Black Forest Restaurant-8

    Wandering off in our Volvo XC60 (this sporty, very comfortable car handles the country roads so nicely!) on a late afternoon drive to Harrison Hot Springs, we parked right at the Esplanade and headed into the The Black Forest Restaurant for an early dinner.

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    The place was packed with families, tour groups, and locals as Wednesday is Schnitzel Night at The Black Forest (soon to end though as the restaurant revs up for the busy summer season). Dozens of schnitzel varieties were being served up along with healthy portions of red cabbage, bread, and other German specialties.
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