Sipping and Supping

It must have been post-Olympic nationalistic lunacy that made me walk into a Canada Post Office to send a letter by registered mail to the US. Why else would I utilize the "services" of a Corporation who expend more effort on advertising their politically correctness than they do on providing service?

I handed in a letter to go by registered mail to New York on April 3rd. The 4th was Easter Monday- that's a holiday in Canada so the 5th would be the first working day.  According to the Tracking System two days later, on the 7th, my little registered envelope "left Canada".

Unless it goes to the North Pole for Santa's elves to sort,  it should have reached New York at least by the next day. I mean a passenger plane takes less than 5 hours direct from YVR to any of the New York city airports. So being charitable let's say it landed somewhere in the US by the 8th of April.

Well it is now the 15th April - seven, yes SEVEN days later, and it still is not even showing that it has been scanned in at a US mail destination, never-mind having been sent out for delivery. Unbelievable.

I checked two other shipping companies - you can guess which -  and their standard delivery times are around 5 business days.

gravlax and greensWilliam Tell Restaurant
765 Beatty Street,
Vancouver BC
PH: (604) 688-3504 or Reserve Online

roll sushi platterYuji's Japanese Tapas
2059 West 4th Ave.,
Vancouver, BC
Ph: 604) 734-4990

We were going to see Paradise Garden at the Stanley Theatre and decided to check out Yuji's about a ten minute drive from theatre. Although it was just before 6 PM, we managed to get a parking spot almost outside the restaurant. It helps if your companion has great parking karma - which he does!

I was not sure what to expect -  the words Japanese and Tapas are not usually associated in my mind but I anticipated a sort of fusion of Spanish style small plates with sushi.The menu listed many items under the tapas heading including the usual Japanese dishes like miso soup and sunomono salad but also included items like grilled duck breast and fried Halibut cheek.

crispy green beansP.F.Chang's China Bistro
61 Fortune Drive,
Irvine, CA
Ph: (949) 453-1211

P.F. Chang's China Bistro (Irvine Spectrum) on Urbanspoon

For our last dine-out with kids at family friendly restaurants in South Orange County before I head back to Vancouver, we decided on P.F. Chang's China Bistro at the Irvine Spectrum Mall.

As usual we got there early, around 5 PM but already there was a 35 minute wait for inside tables. Fortunately it was a warm afternoon and early evening so we opted for a patio table .  Three space heaters also added warmth.

"Happy Hour" extends from 3 PM to 6 PM with a special menu of reduced price drinks and dishes. I had a 7 oz glass of Riesling  S.A.Prum for $5.00 and the others shared a large Gekkeikan Sake for $4.00.

sinfully delicious garlic breadMangia Bene Ristorante
27281 La Paz Road,
Laguna Niguel, CA
Ph: (949) 831-0140

Mangia Bene Cucina on Urbanspoon
Why you may wonder would I choose a plate of garlic bread as the primary picture for Mangia Bene? it's because it is simply the most sinfully satisfying garlic bread ever - and the servers keep the supply coming until you beg them to stop.

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse in Laguna Hills
24032 El Toro Rd.,
Laguna Hills, CA
Ph: 749 -848-3747

BJ's Restaurant Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

When you are heading out for an early supper with an infant and a pre-schooler, the key feature you look for is not eclectic  contemporary cuisine but a family-friendly  environment and a children's menu.  Fortunately there seems to be no shortage of such style eateries in the several neighbouring communities of Orange County where my family lives.

One such chain is BJ's, that presently has about 95 restaurants scattered throughout the West, South and Mid-Western states. They began with a pizzeria in Santa Ana in 1978, began handcrafting beers in Brea in 1996 and are about to open several new restaurants to add to the present list.

Merluzzo -pan-seared sable fishLa Terrazza

1088 Cambie Street

Vancouver

Ph: (604)-899-4449 or Reserve Online

La Terrazza on Urbanspoon

When I first moved into the Yaletown area four years ago, La Terrazza was literally a two minute walk from my rented apartment and I enjoyed several meals there. But I had not been back for more than a year, since I moved to my new home a few blocks further away. Each time I drove up Cambie on my way to dance class, I would make a mental note that it was time to check out La Terrazza again - but my mental notes seemed to get misfiled!

Then one rainy Vancouver night I had tickets for a performance at GM Place and it occurred to me that this would be the perfect time for a pre-show dinner at La Terrazza. From there it would be a quick walk to The Garage.

5 appetizer platterShanghai River Restaurant
#110-7831 Westminster Highway,
Richmond, BC
Ph: (604) 233-8885

With its large diverse Chinese community, Vancouver celebrates Chinese New Year in style. This year a group of us, 12 in all, took the Canada Line out to Richmond, for a Chinese New Year banquet at the Shanghai River Restaurant. Arranged by Susan, whose petite frame belies her formidable social organizational skills, the evening promised to be a veritable feast and it was.

As we were led to our table which seated 12 quite comfortably, we passed by the pastry area where the dumplings and noodles are freshly made. We sipped on our hot tea while Susan and Nick decided what needed to be added to the standard  banquet menu for 10 people. The rest of us debated whether to order beer or wine. Five of us settled on a bottle of Mission Hill white wine of unknown varietal. The menu did not specify. We guessed it was a Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris but we got so involved with the various dishes that we forgot to ask them to bring back the bottle so we could check. The others ordered beers.

the crispy oystersMaenam Thai Restaurant
1938 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver.
Ph: (604) 730-5579 or Reserve Online

The last time I visited this location  at its previous incarnation as Gastropod I enjoyed an excellent meal. Since chef Angus An renamed  it Maenam and changed the focus to Thai specialities  in May last year, I have not had an opportunity to revisit. But heading off to the Jericho Arts Centre to see The Vic, we decided to test our taste buds against some spicy Thai dishes.

Lucy and Jamie tend the barThe Wine Bar at The Cultch
1895 Venables Street, Vancouver
 

The renovated exterior Tucked away on the corner of Venables Street and Victorian Drive, a block east of  buzzing Commercial Drive, the creaky old Vancouver East Cultural Theatre had a quaint charm for theatre lovers despite its uncomfortable seats and awkwardly located washrooms.  Originally an old abandoned church that was developed into a theatre space some thirty-seven years ago, the facility suffered from structural and technical limitations and uncomfortable working conditions for casts and crews and has now been extensively renovated.

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