Sipping and Supping

One of my "to-dos" on retirement was to learn a new language. I have managed to acquire a smattering of Italian and a little more Spanish - though it will take a lot more than a beginner course at UBC Robson Square, visits to Mexico and my "Spanish in Ten Minutes A Day" to get me over my reluctance to try out my new vocabulary. But even more than being able to count to hundred in Spanish, new words that have entered the vocabulary of my mother tongue - computer-speak - have begun to assume a major importance in my life.

In the last three years I have retired from one professional career, moved from a family home into a downtown condo, taken up ballroom dancing as a seriously fulltime hobby and embarked on a seriously fulltime new career; namely writing for ReviewFromTheHouse and trying to develop a career in entertainment journalism. In the "old days" when you moved into a new community and took a new job, you just made new friends. Now to build a new life and a new career, it appears that you must develop Social Networks, Business Networks, Facebook communities, Twitter followers, join Xing and Zoom and LinkedIN.

So as an adventuresome individual with a curious mind, I am exploring these various networking options, and will be reporting shortly on my progress. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter but I am not very good at keeping up to the minute with either.  It is really difficult to write when you have to tweet all day.

In the mean time I encourage you to check out the interview with Canadian playwright, Emil Sher, author among many things, of the thought provoking and heart rending play, Mourning Dove, that was produced by Pacific Theatre last year.

sdThe Smoking Dog Bistro
1889 West 1st Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Ph: 604-732-8811

The Bard-on-the-Beach 2009 season has officially begun and we were off to Vanier Park to see Othello. Surfing around for restaurants close by I thought that this Bistro at 1st and Cypress would be a pleasant walk away from the Bard location. Although Kitsilano's neighbourhood Smoking Dog French bistro has been here "forever" as I learned while my dining companion regaled me with its history,  this was my first time trying it out.

Our reservation was for 5:30 - early for dinner in Vancouver, as we approached the restaurant, I noticed that many of the outside tables along 1st Street were already occupied. A good sign. We were shown to the patio on the Cypress side of the Bistro and were able to get a table that was shaded from direct sunlight. Amazingly the air was still balmy. I remember the Bard opening of Twelfth Night on the same date in June last year - it was freezing cold and even with a thick jacket and a blanket I was chilled to the bone. But I thought that maybe tonight we would not even need a jacket.

Within minutes of being seated, we were chatting to our friendly waiter, whose accent declared his origin to be in France; and I was sipping a glass of a delicious white wine blend perfect for a warm spring evening.

SeaSahackSea Shack Seafood Restaurant and Lounge,
Wheeler,
Oregon, USA
Ph: 1- 503-368-7897

It is always great when you can get a recommendation for great food from a local resident. One of the ports of call on my recent  West Coast Ballroom Dancing Cruise was Astoria, Oregon.
Rather than an organized tour, at this stop  I chose to take a drive with some new friends down the South Oregon coast to Tillamook.

SaeThe recommendation for a seafood restaurant for lunch, was the Sea Shack in the tiny village of Wheeler. So that is where we decided to go. When we arrived, a little early, there was no one else there so we had our pick of tables and were seated at the window with a great view of the river and bird life. Shortly after we placed our order several groups arrived and the tables started filling up.

I noticed there was an oyster chowder on the menu and decided to try it.  One of my lunch companions from Charleston commented that he made a fantastic oyster chowder but the friendly server said that she guaranteed that the Sea Shack's soup was out of this world. What a challenge. I couldn't resist and decided to try a plate. Well she was right. I think that this was the best oyster soup I have ever tasted.

Sushi platterHonjin Sushi
138 DavieStreet,
Vancouver, BC
Ph: 604-688-8808

When I first moved into my Yaletown apartment, our neighborhood Yaletown Honjin became our favorite place for take-out sushi.  It is a pleasant 5 minute stroll along the sea wall and then through the park, to the restaurant. We would phone in our order, enjoy the salt sea air on the way to fetch the food, and then hurry home with the myriad aromas of freshi sushi tantalizing us.  A little dash of wasabi in the soy sauce... and sea food heaven!  And now when my family comes to visit, inevitably within the first day or two someone will ask "so when are we calling in the sushi order?"

It has been a while since we have had a family sushi get -together so the other evening, after an energetic Samba class when my friend suggested we go to Honjin for a bite of supper,  I enthusiastically agreed. 

He ordered the sushi  dinner and we shared a small order of vegetable tempura. I had a small portion of local tuna sashimi  (in the photo to the left) and a dynamite roll. The tuna just melted in my mouth - fantastic.  The tempura was hot, fresh and crisply delicious.

Ahi tuna towerLux at Caprice
965 Granville Street,
Vancouver, BC.
Ph:  604-685-3189 or Reserve Online

On Saturday evening I was meeting a friend to see  "Top Girls" at the Vancouver Playhouse. I decided to extend my search range for pre-show restaurants  beyond the three block radius from the Queen Elizabeth/Playhouse complex, and came up with Lux at the Caprice, on Granville between Nelson and Smythe. There is major construction still going on along Granville and they have ripped up the sidewalks so by the time I walked along Granville from Georgia to the restaurant my shoes were coated with dust.  The entrance to Lux was also not well marked and I nearly walked right by it.This construction is really tough on the businesses on the streets affected.  Anyway to avoid the mess on the way back down to the theatre we crossed Granville and walked down Smythe thus avoiding two blocks of dust.

What a week! With no evening dance classes this week I was able to take full advantage of the treasure trove of theatre on in Vancouver at the moment. Starting with True Story last Sunday afternoon, I saw 36 Views at Jericho on Tuesday, Les Misérables at the Stanley on Wednesday,  Antigone Unbound upstairs at the Russian Hall on Thursday,  Palace of the End at PAL on Friday and finally caught Top Girls at the Playhouse on Saturday. 

On Sunday, I rested. Sort of.   Actually I wrote and wrote and wrote, and tried to get a lot of exercise. Had fun with my ladies' dance-fit to wild Latin music in the gym. We are almost at the point of getting little routines together for samba, mambo and chachacha! Spandex and Mamma Mia here we come.

Accompanying this feast for the mind, was a range of dining experiences including r.tl (regional tasting lounge),  West RestaurantKentizen (in the Tinseltown complex),  Lux at the Caprice and Honjin Sushi.

Mind sated, tummy full and wallet empty, I am looking forward to a quieter week this week and time to catch up on my non-review writing.

Sushi buffetKentizen
2029 88 W. Pender St.,
Vancouver
Ph: 778-863-8281

We were planning to see Antigone Unbound later  at the Leaky Heaven Circus Studio above the Russion Hall, so finding ourselves in the general vicinity of Chinatown we decided to wander around and find somewhere for a casual supper. I remembered that there was a place inside the Tinseltown complex that I had wanted to check out so we took the escalator to the second floor and wandered into Kentizen. It was still early,  around 5:30 and so we took a window table and studied the menu. As we were debating the merits of Japanese food versus Chinese food, the manager suggested we check out the buffet.

One look at the sushi portion of the buffet and I was sold. So we each took an attractive oblong transparent blue glass plate and helped ourselves to some of the sushi, edemame and other items.

DessertWest Restaurant
2881 Granville St.
Vancouver, BC
Ph:  604 738 8938 or Reserve Online

VancouverThe best laid plans ...

Well here I am back in Vancouver after a fantastic 7 nights of dance, food, wine and meeting new friends on board the Sapphire Princess. The cruise was a great success - I had a blast! My feet may need a week to recover from dancing till midnight most nights. But on the other hand, despite eating great food and not stinting on the wine, i did not put on any weight! Ballroom dancing is the key!

I walked off the ship early Saturday morning dragging my heavy suitcase - yes I packed too much! Was home by around 8:30 and after putting in a load of laundry went up to Urban Fare to stack up on grocery essentials like cream for my coffee, fruit and yogurt. On both Saturday and Sunday I had arranged to get together with friends I had met on the cruise, so between that, unpacking, seeing True Story at the Cultch and dinner at  r.tl (regional tasting lounge) , I am only partially through creating the record of my trip.

Yes - my intentions of posting a daily travelblogue fell victim to my decision to "live it now and write it later." I have decided that I will post the log of my trip in one single post. That will also help with the issue of chronology that blogging messes up. But watch for it - I intend to have it posted early this week as I have 5 more plays to review by Saturday.

r.tl Regional Tasting Lounge
1130 Mainland Street, Vancouver, BC
Ph: 604-638-1550 or  Online Reservations

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