Caramelized yam and scallion soupThe subtle sweetness of caramelized yam, scallion and garlic blended into a rich, thick creamy soup was my choice for a hearty start to a Thanksgiving lunch.  Canadian Thanksgiving was over 6 weeks ago and today it is the USA that celebrates.

Orange yams, scallion and garlicI have so much to be grateful for that two celebrations seem very appropriate so I raise my spoon to my family and friends in the US and give thanks with them, albeit from a distance.

Lotus of Siam Thai Restaurant
953 E. Sahara Ave., #A-5
Las Vegas, NV
Ph: (702) 735-3033

Lotus of Siam on Urbanspoon

Only the bright neon sign above the entrance hints that behind the non-descript strip mall doorway  is a restaurant that, according to locals, serves up some of the best Thai food in Las Vegas. 

Lucky for us, at the FoodFightWrite 2014 conference, we met up with a Las Vegas friend who writes on SouthEastAsia Cuisine locally and  abroad. For our last dinner before departing Las Vegas early next morning, she took us to Lotus of Siam, one of her favorite local restaurants.

Speed -the-Plow
By David Mamet
Directed by David Mackay
A Mitch & Murray Production
Studio 16 (1555 W 7th Ave., Vancouver)
Nov 13 to 29, 2014

Vancouver, BC: From their opening lines, Aaron Craven and Craig Erickson take off with the hypermanic intensity of Mamet's fast moving script. Bobby Gould (Erickson) is the recently promoted Director of Production in  a major Hollywood studio, headed by Richard Ross. Bobby's long time friend Charlie Fox (Craven), who has been waiting for ever for his own big break, bursts into his office with news that a big Hollowood name from another studio wants to "cross the street" and make a prison film of a script brought to him by Fox. But they have to get the project green-lighted by Ross before 10 am the next day.

 

Carson Kitchen
124 S 6th St., Ste. 100,
Las Vegas, NV
Ph: (702) 473-9523

Carson Kitchen on Urbanspoon

A Las Vegas visitor looking for a casual dining spot in the downtown area would likely pass by the logo-free store front of Carson Kitchen with no idea that inside fresh, wholesome food was being served up.

We were lucky to meet up with a fellow conference attendee who lives in Las  Vegas while watching World Food Championship competitors cooking in an early event. She suggested we walk a few blocks to have lunch together at Carson Kitchen, and we almost walked right by before we found the entrance. But lucky for us we did not miss it because we had an excellent lunch there and bonded happily over the food.

Although like many travelers I love to indulge in the trappings of luxurious surroundings, I have been known to declaim smugly on several occasions that “all I really need is a clean comfortable bed, lots of hot water from the shower, a hair dryer, a toilet where I don’t need to squat, and a fast wireless internet”. During this week long stay at the Plaza Hotel I’ve realized that is not really true. My standards are higher than the basics and there are other minor niceties needed to make me a “happy camper.”

Over many years of attending professional conferences, with sessions starting as early as 7 or 8 AM, I have learned to make a point of staying at the conference hotel. So when planning my trip to Las Vegas to attend a food-writing conference, I reserved a room at the conference hotel, the Plaza Hotel and Casino. The hotel offered a very low rate for the days of the conference.

I have never ever stayed in a hotel that charged less than $40 a night (plus the “resort fee” of about 14.00) but hey! I thought, this is Las Vegas where high rollers stay for free in luxury suites bigger than my condo. I booked partly on-line but ended up having to talk to a reservation clerk who expounded on weekend rates, week rates and conference rates. I should have listened more carefully.

 

Oscar's Steakhouse at the Plaza Hotel and Casino
1 S Main Street, Las Vegas
Ph: (702) 386 7227 or reserve online

Oscar's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

The aroma of warm sour dough bread with embedded slivers of caramelized onion, rising from the white napkin-covered basket compelled me to erase all thoughts of a bread-free dinner. Lightly buttered, the fresh airy slice tasted as good as its aroma promised, and kept me content while I decided on my dinner choices.

 

Urinetown: The Musical
By Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis
Directed by Donna Spencer
Musical Direction by Steve Charles
Choreography by Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg
Firehall Arts Centre
Nov 1- 29, 2014

Vancouver, BC: Take a biologically impossible premise, add songs with clever, funny lyrics, thrown in brilliant choreography with parodies of top hit musicals, provide a big bad corporate CEO in cahoots with corrupt cops and conniving politicians... call it Urinetown: The Musical and you have a hilarious satirical show that adults love, even though they are eons past their preschool bathroom-humour phase.

Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Additional music and lyrics by David Crane, Seth Friedman, Marta Kauffman, Alan Menken and Charles Strouse.
Book by David Stern, Conceived by Michael Scheman and David Stern
Directed by Chris McGregor, Musical Direction by Wendy Bross Stuart, Choreography by Dawn Ewen
A Snapshots Collective Production
Studio 1398, Festival House, Granville Island
Oct 29 to November 8, 2104

Vancouver, BC: What a delightful treat this was on a chilly Halloween night in Vancouver. "Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook" weaves songs from American composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz and others into a love story chronicling the lives of Dan and Sue through old pictures found in their attic. 

Schwartz is the composer/lyricist of Pippin, the 2013 Tony award winning musical still running on Broadway, Godspell and Wicked, among many other musicals. The producers have brought together a stellar ensemble, whose voices complemented each other beautifully, as they blended and separated in changing combinations.

Saint Joan
by George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Kim Collier
Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
Arts Club Theatre Company
Oct 23 to Nov 23, 2014

Vancouver, BC: Wow! This is among the most outstanding productions I have seen in Vancouver. Direction, performance, technical design and implementation  - flawless. Don't think I moved a muscle throughout the play, except to give Meg Roe a standing ovation, something I don't take at all lightly.

The improbable yet true story of the French peasant girl who, during the Hundred Years' War of the 14/15th century led an army to lift the siege of Orleans, and who ultimately crowned Charles Vll at Reims, is familiar to most of us. Joan of Arc, known also as The Maid of Orleans, claimed that the Archangel Michael, and Saints Catherine and Margaret spoke directly to her, telling her to dress as a male soldier and lead an army to drive the English from France.

Today she would be put on anti-psychotic medication but amazingly at the time her revelations were acted on and the banner she wielded inspired the soldiers to many victories. Ultimately captured by the English, she was tried for heresy, and for the "crime" of cross-dressing, and burned at the stake. Two decades after her death she was declared innocent of the charges, and almost 500 hundred years later was canonized as Saint Joan of Arc. Shaw's play begins at the start of her warrior journey and ends with her death.

Hunter Gatherers
by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
directed by Ryan Gladstone
A Staircase Theatre Production
Havana Theatre
Oct 30 to November 15, 2014

Vancouver, BC: I really enjoyed the work of this young theatre company, Staircase Theatre in their previous show Cocktails at Pam's.   Hunter Gatherers by contemporary San-Francisco based playwright, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb was an equally great  choice. Director Ryan Gladstone's finely honed comedic touch and perfectly pitched performances from all four actors, did full credit to  the dark humour of the script. So much so that I made a mental note to myself to read more of Nachtrieb's plays.

 

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