Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vancouver - part 3

     After a fitful sleep, we had an easy morning then walked over the Van Dusen Botanical Garden, a favourite childhood haunt of CC's.  It now has a new, modern building at the entrance which fit in nicely with the landscape.  We felt young amongst all of the wrinklies and there were many beautiful plants and flowers organized according to region of origin, and of course I took many photographs.

       I particularly enjoyed the maze which had a Monkey Puzzle Tree at its centre - clever huh? We had a good long meander through the gardens and afterwards, lunched at the restaurant there, Truffles (hideous name but the food was very good).  We both had pea soup and I had a beef brisket vietnamese sandwich which was fusion at it's tastiest.  CC had a quinoa salad, also very flavourful.

     We went back to the house and I managed to talk to my dad who had talked to my brother on the phone and said he sounded quite lucid and chipper (this after having a three hour operation to have a brain tumour removed the night before!).  After some time relaxing and reading, we caught the bus downtown to Broadway and Granville and met my friend SE for dinner at Portobello.  SE and I had lived in the same house in the Little Portugal neighbourhood of Toronto many years before and have kept in touch over the years but hadn't seen one another in about six years, so it was a reunion of sorts.  While we were getting caught up, an obtrusive waiter kept coming by to see if we were ready to order, and we had to keep sending him away.  I had melon and prosciutto for an appetizer and pasta with salmon and a cream sauce for a main.  After a good long meal and chat, SE drove us through East Hastings (eek!) to an industrial area that had the International Ice Cream House.  It was a mob scene there and once inside I could see why.  After buying a token at the cash which determined what size of ice cream/gelato/sorbet you wanted (single, double, etc.), the real fun began.  You could get small sampling spoons of any flavour you wanted and there were well over 200 to choose from!  Not only that, but there were many odd and delightful flavours to choose from including maple bacon, vegemite, basil pernod, etc.  I have never seen so many happy people in my life and you could feel the energy in the room.  CC had seaweed, SE had porcini mushroom and I had a double of durian and black sesame - wow!  We sat outside in a beautifully lit courtyard, finished our tastes of heaven, then SE brought us home then left us with promises to see one another again soon.  We were in bed soon after.
Bring it on!
     After a good fry-up for breakfast, and a quiet, restful morning, Aunty J took us to the Vancouver Yacht Club for lunch, along with CC's ex-sister-in-law, AC.  It was a loverly, sunny day and we sat out on the deck, overlooking the harbour with great views of West Vancouver across the water.  AC was a bit late and somewhat breathless but calmed down once food was ordered.  I had Fish and Chips in keeping with the water theme of it all.  Afterwards, CC and I went down to the pier and walked to the end of it and back.  After a group photo, we went our separate ways.  Although CC and I had planned to go downtown to see the Vancouver Art Galley, we decided to put on our swimsuits and go down to Jericho Beach for a swim in the water, our first time this trip.  The water was quite shallow and there was lots of seaweed in it, but it was saltily refreshing.  I went in and out a few times and after about an hour, we headed back to the house.  After changing, we headed to downtown Kerrisdale, so CC could buy his mum a birthday card and we could get Aunty J some chocolates from Purdy's.  We also stopped in at Hill's and I bought four t-shirts that had out of print book covers on them (  We then had dinner at the White Spot, a local hamburger joint, walked home, had our evening scotch on the rocks and chatted  until it was time to go to sleep.

     The next day was pack-up day.  We left around 9:30 for a 12:00 flight home, said our goodbyes to Aunty J and Vancouver and talked about when we would next visit.

Scary Apple-head Doll

Monday, August 20, 2012

Vancouver - part 2

     On the holiday Monday, CC, Aunty J and I met CC's brother and sister-in-law, Miss Kitty, at a Dim Sum restaurant, The Flamingo.  I gave Miss Kitty an origami spinning top I made and then we set down to business!  We ordered a few things from the Dim Sum carts, but had the two-course Peking Duck (my first time!).  The first course is the crispy skin with bits of meat still attached that is placed into a thin pancake with some brown sauce (Hoisin?) - droolarama!  There was quite a wait for the second course as a mistake was made but it was well worth it - the duck meat is stir-fried with chestnuts and other goodies and placed inside iceberg lettuce wraps - crispy, watery and succulent - did I say drool?  If we had ordered the third course it would have been soup made from the bones - nothing wasted here.  For dessert we had some warmed up black sesame mochis (glutinous rice cakes filled with black sesame seed paste - not too sweet but very tasty) and mango pudding (topped with condensed milk - oh god!).  We then said our goodbyes to JC and Miss Kitty and came back to the house for a rest.  We then went for a walk in the neighbourhood, had a Scotch and chat with Aunty J, ate a light dinner of grilled cheese and avocado sandwiches with greens then hit the sack.

     On Tuesday, we went on an adventure with GS.  She pulled up in a silver mustang convertible (but wanted to rent a jeep!), loaded us up and headed off.  First stop was Hycroft (the University Women's Club of Vancouver) of which she is a member.  It was once a private residence and there are still many architectural features extant.  It also has a lovely garden, much to CC's delight.  We drove through downtown, across the Lion's Gate Bridge, and ended up at Wycliffe Park.
Wycliffe Park
     It was a quick hike down to the beach which afforded a fantastic view.  We crossed a rocky path in the water over to an island and I Billy-goated up the rocks to take pictures and admire the vistas.  Got a close-up of some Arbutus trees and couldn't get over the red bark.  We headed back to shore and beachcombed (saw a cool, old, rusty piece of metal that looked like it had come from a ship) then went up to the cafe for some lunch.

     It was then up along the coast with mountains on one side and the water on the other - I felt quite vulnerable being in the back of the convertible, but was happy for the unobstructed views.  We turned around just past Squamish and stopped at Shannon Falls for a quick break and photo-op.

      There was a lot of traffic on the way back into Vancouver, and after a coffee stop, we went to Vij's restaurant.  
The art of Vij's
     Even though we were there early, there was a 90 minute wait for a table (they don't take reservations).  We sat and had wine while they served us nibblies and got a table after about an hour.  The wait was worth it!  There were so many incredible sounding dishes to choose from and the scents coming from the kitchen were heavenly!  I started with Eggplant with rapini in a thick yoghurt curry, CC had curried chickpeas and sweet potato-ricotta "cookies", while GS had Jackfruit in black cardamom and cumin curry.  For mains, I had Rajasthani style goat meat with mildly spiced vegetables, CC had pork tenderloin on mushrooms and pearl barley pilaf with braised pork hock, tomato and mustard seed curry, while GS had splitpea and spinach mash and spicy millet/bulghar dumplings with vegetables sautéed in pomegranate curry (!!!).  What can I say?  The best Indian food I have ever had.  We rolled out of there to our first rainfall and I had a good chuckle watching the other two try to figure out how to secure the convertible top.  Home then bed.  *Also found out that my brother was taken into emergency earlier and had to have emergency surgery to have a brain tumour removed!*

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vancouver - part 1

New tree growing out of old stump
     For our summer vacation, CC and I flew out to Vancouver for a week where he has family and we both have friends. I had only been there once before and was looking forward to seeing it through CC's eyes, who has been there many times before.  I managed to use all of my Airmiles points to get us both there and back and we stayed at his Aunt J's house in Kerrisdale, so it was a cheap holiday.
     We arrived in Vancouver (courtesy of Air Crapada) mid-afternoon on a Friday and took a cab to his Aunt's place.  She's an animal lover and there are many trees and shrubs on the property and many birds at her bird feeder.  Saw my first Stellar Jay ever - looks like a punk Blue Jay!  We unpacked and walked to downtown Kerrisdale to pick up some much-needed supplies (Scotch) and walked back through Maplegrove Park where there are remnants of some giant trees.  It was an early night for all of us as we were cream-crackered.
The Kitsilano Beach on English Bay
     On the Saturday, we walked from Kerrisdale to downtown, a three hour hike through lots of interesting neighbourhoods with tremendous gardens.  It was spectacular seeing the view to the harbour with the mountains in the background.

     In Kitsilano, everyone was enjoying the sun and the water and I loved the air and the smell of the water.  We continued through Vanier Park, past the Museum of Vancouver and across the very Art Deco Burrard Street Bridge.

     We ended up on Robson Street and stopped for a much-deserved lunch at a Korean restaurant, ApGuJung, and had a seafood and chive pancake, small pork dumplings, shrimp skewers and vegetarian BiBimBop - all very tasty and filling!  We then walked some more and took the bus back to Kerrisdale as our dogs were barking.  After a rest, a chat with Auntie J with some scotch, we walked into downtown Kerrisdale and had dinner at a neighbourhood pizza place, George's.  It was then back home and another early night.
Ready for dinner
     Sunday was our day for making dinner for CC's family, so we went to the grocery store in Dunbar, got our supplies, then headed back after a detour along the coast and past UBC.  CC prepared dessert while I prepped the vegetables during which Aunty J and her friend, I, came in.  Being ladies of a certain generation, they had lots of comments for  CC on his pastry and then talk turned to what the best apples are for apple pie - Northern Spy apparently!  I made a leek and cauliflower gratin with bacon and prepared the mushroom, sun-dried tomato and prosciutto filling for the chicken breasts.  It was a team effort cutting, stuffing and tying up the chicken breasts.  CC set the table while I prepared the fresh apricots with blue cheese, which were to be broiled.  I also folded origami cranes for the table settings, and threw together a quick cucumber and yoghurt salad and a simple green salad.  Auntie J came upstairs and then CC's niece, brother, sister-in-law and friend, GS, arrived.  We had a nice bottle of champagne with the appetizers and wine with the dinner, which went very well.  The family stories were very entertaining and CC's cake was a hit!  After everyone left, we cleaned up and hit the hay.

To Guelph Lake and back.

Guelph Lake
     Catch-up time!  On July 27-29, I had two old (as in a long time!) and very dear friends come and stay with us for the weekend, which is becoming something of an annual visit.  I have known them for 30 years plus as we went to Nelson High School together in Burlington.  They now live in The Big Smoke, so it was good to get them out into some fresher air and idyllic countryside.  They came to farmer's market with us on Saturday morning, but we didn't buy Gherkins and get their help with making Dill Pickles this time around.  There were a couple of interesting events that made the weekend memorable.  1.  We were in a book store together and I found a humorous book containing odd photos of people and their pets ( - check it out for some laughs.  Well, we left the store and right after we saw two large people  walking along the sidewalk, each carrying a 25 lb. cat!  From there, we entered the mall and saw a young, pinky woman with a lizard on her head!! Talk about coincidence.  2.  We checked out my old high school year books and were chuckling at our pictures and the comments they had written to me many years before.  The following day, we went to the Aberfoyle Antique Market and found a stall that had two old yearbooks from our high school.  We flipped through them and were amazed to see many of the teachers we had as younger versions of themselves - some didn't look much different and there was a difference of 10-15 years.  On the Sunday, we got up early and hiked out to Guelph Lake to get some exercise and fresh air.  There are lots of different vistas along the trail we took and it took us a good three hours to get there and back home.  They left later that day and I'm looking forward to their next visit.

and back