Sipping & Supping

Cactus Club Cafe, Coal Harbour
1085 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC
Ph: (604) 620 7140

Cactus Club Cafe (Coal Harbour) on Urbanspoon

On a glorious sunny Vancouver Sunday, twenty-three of us arrived at the Cactus Club Cafe Coal Harbour  for an family out-of-towners post-wedding lunch. Canada Place was humming with activity. There were a couple of cruise ships docked, the open-air market was crowded and everywhere, people were enjoying the beauty of the mountains and the water.

Fable Kitchen
1944 West 4th (between Maple and Cypress)
Vancouver
Ph: (604) - 732-1322 or on line through OpenTable

Fable Kitchen on Urbanspoon

It was definitely time for me to get back into my dinner-and-a-show routine that had been so neglected as I ticked off items on my  travel bucket list like the Amazon River,  and a transatlantic crossing  on Queen Mary 2.  It was also time for me to catch up on some of the  restaurants that have opened outside my regular walking range of Yaletown and downtown  Vancouver.

Minami Restaurant
1118 Mainland Street, Yaletown.
Ph: (604) 685-8080 or Reserve Online

Minami on Urbanspoon

With some time in between appointments in Yaletown I decided to drop in Minami restaurant on Mainland for a quick sushi lunch. It is quite a while since I ate there (Minami Restaurant review) as I have been away traveling on the Amazon River (An Amazon River Journey into the Jungle of Peru) and other places in South America and South Africa, as well as cruising from Cape Town to New York on the QM2.

I was thinking hungrily of the aburi sushi that I had eaten,  both at Minami and the sister restaurant (Miku - also reviewed previously) and so I got an order of the aburi salmon oshi sushi - local wild salmon with miku sauce as well as the soft shell shrimp roll.

In the afternoon of the third day of our Amazon adventure, we made our first actual foray on foot into the jungle. Rather than viewing the vegetation and the birds and critters from the boats, we were actually going to hike to the Kapok Camp where we going to spend the night.

From the time we arrived at the airport in Iquitos and were taken to our coach for the ride to Nauta, we were in the capable and highly organized hands of the naturalist team who were leading our Amazon explorations. In my professional career I have encountered many people who were experts in their field, but Juan-Carlos Palomino and Robinson Rodriguez have made an indelible impression on me that I will never forget. How they could spot a tiny black dot high in a tree as we were speeding down river in our motorized skiff, and instantly identify the type of bird, simply blew my mind. Specially when our skiff driver, Darwin, would stop the boat so we could see the bird. Even through my very powerful binoculars I could often barely make out the shape of the black dot- which now just looked like a big bird-like blob to me. But they could point in the bird guide to the exact type of bird. And then when I zeroed in on the image captured (usually by Robinson, for me) on my camera, and zoomed in on the image - there it was. No longer a black blob.

Before supper each night, we were entertained on the upper deck by the ship’s band of whom the mainstays were brothers, Oscar and Edgar Rachi, and Blumer Arica, all of whom sang as well as playing multiple musical instruments. We danced lots of salsa and merengue with the occasional rumba for variation. It was quite a surreal experience to  be dancing on a river boat in the Amazon jungle!

 This is the INDEX of posts for the travelblogue of my trip to Peru for a week-long cruise on the Amazon River.  I signed up for the Amazon River Expedition travel program sponsored by the University of British Columbia Alumni Association.

 From Lima we flew to Iquitos in Northern Peru, took a coach to Nauta and boarded our riverboat, La Turmalina. During this trip we traveled beyond the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañón rivers, visiting the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (the largest wetland reserve in the world), Pacama village and spending a night in the Kapok Camp.

A small skiff took us on several excursions. They are numbered 1 to 14 on the map which is the key to upcoming posts. Along the way we saw birds, monkeys,  river dolphins and a fascinating variety of medicinal plants and trees

The  Verandah Restaurant on deck 2 at the Grand Lobby of the Queen Elizabeth features French cuisine from Cunard's Culinary Ambassador, Jean-Marie Zimmerman. Dining is a la carte but the prices are reasonable for the quality of food and service provided. The ambience is sophisticated and elegant with quietly efficient service. 

Once seated and your meal order taken, you are presented with an amuse bouche. When two  people are dining, each receives a different amuse bouche. 

On my second day in Athens I woke to another warm and sunny day. Highs were predicted to be around 24ºC. The first task on my mind was to find the local Post Office and buy stamps for the postcards that I planned to  mail to my grand-children. I gave them a map of the places that the cruise will take us to and hopefully getting the picture postcards will mean something to my grand-daughter, who has studied the continents and the various countries and their capitals.Today is the day of the big transit strike so I was curious to see what difference this made in the traffic through these narrow streets.

As I exited the hotel ready to walk in the direction of the square where the Post Office was located, the first thing i noticed was about thirty policemen on the opposite side of the road. They were just milling around and it did not look as if anything serious was happening but I wondered. 

Kuzina,
Adrianou 9 (Thissios),
Athens, Greece

We finished our Hop On Hop Off Red bus tour of Athens around 5:30 and although it was really early, we were both famished and ready for some good Greek food. The restaurant Kuzina had been recommended to us, and although we passed restaurant after restaurant as we walked along Adrianou Street, we persisted until we found it.

It was still quite warm although late in the afternoon so we chose to sit outside and enjoy watching the passing throngs. Being Friday and the end of the week, people were out in droves, walking and shopping and people watching was fun.

The service was prompt. We decided to start with the obligatory Greek salad. Interestingly this version had  arugula and caper leaves with luscious red tomatoes, capers, cucumber, olives and feta cheese. The croutons were of  crispy Greek bagel. And the dressing was olive oil.

Miku Restaurant
1055 West Hastings Street,
Vancouver, BC.
Ph: (604) -568-3900 or  Reserve Online

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

After enjoying an excellent lunch at Minami, the sister restaurant  to Miku that recently opened in Yaletown, I arranged to meet a friend at  Miku for a sort of follow up lunch. The aburi style of saba and salmon that I enjoyed so much at Minami was introduced first at Miku. My friend was late so I enjoyed a glass of Three Blancs wine while I waited. Although the menu only listed it as from Okanagan Falls, I believe it is the blend of Pinot Blanc, Gewürtztraminer and Muscat from the Tangled Vines Estate Winery, one I have yet to visit. Anyway the wine was a perfect summer sipper, light and fruity, just to my taste.

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