February 2009

For our second ladies' night out exploring the restaurants along 4th Avenue, we chose Trattoria. They don't take dinner reservations so we planned to arrive early, just after 6 pm.  We were seated promptly, and when one of our party asked to move away from the the proximity of the windows, we were rapidly relocated to a more central table.

Vancouver, BC:  Until now, the words " victims of the Holocaust" to me encompassed the dead and the survivors of  the concentration camps, their relatives and their descendants. In a different way, one might also consider that the psyche of every Jewish person, whether directly connected to the camps or not, has been victimised by the attitudes underlying the Nazi's "Final Solution".

Vancouver, BC:  As readers of my theatre columns from the "Rants, Raves and Reviews" days to the current "As I See It" commentaries would know, I am always excited by plays that challenge me to think  in new ways or question my basic assumptions.  I really did not know what to expect when I went off to see "The Glass Box" but this original work developed by the three actors, succeeded in both aspects.

I have come to my ballroom dancing addiction relatively late in life.  When I made a "mid-life" decision to change careers and redeploy myself from left brain physician/scientist to right brain entertainment /travel writer, one of my residual left brain activities was to make a list of the ten things I wanted to accomplish in the next ten years. Top of the  list was to get back to dance, especially the Latin dances, which I had loved in my late teens when my knees were still elastic and my hips could actually swivel. So having tried out a couple of dance styles and studios, I found myself at the Vancouver  Ballroom for a beginner bronze samba class - and after the first lesson I was hooked! Two years later, thanks to the endless patience of Bernice and Aegide, though neither my brain nor my body learns as easily  as a sixteen year old, I am working my way through the medal tests in Standard and Ballroom and rejuvenating myself in the process. Sort of like Benjamin Button.

When I really really really enjoy the first taste of  a dish, I sometimes spontaneously break into an odd little shoulder-jiggling dance accompanied by sounds of appreciation that I don't quite know how to spell. Sort of like - uhuhuhuh! Jiggle,jiggle, jiggle -uhuhuhuh. When I realized some time ago that I have this tendency I worked hard to control it - It's not very dignified to be making incoherent sounds of bliss when you are trying to be objective in your approach to evaluating your meal. Still every now and then I forget - the food is great- and the jiggle appears.

It is probably more than 10 years since I had dinner at this location and it has been on my list of places to check out for ages.  So finally, before heading off to a play at the PTC stage I reserved a table. Although my dining companion described the decor as  somewhat minimalistic, I liked  the spaciousness, the simplicity and the ambience.  The tables are a reasonable size and spaced comfortably apart so that  one can converse easily. The student chefs, who work as servers one night  each week, are polite but not intrusive. 

More than thirty years ago,the first time I sailed on the Aegean Sea, I fell under the spell of the Aegean islands. Much later when our oldest child was in his final high school year, as we planned a vacation in Europe with our children,the first component of the trip that we all agreed on was to go sailing among the Greek Islands. The image of white washed homes reflecting sunshine against cerulean waters has always stayed with me - and made me into an interior decorator's nightmare. In my home I always end up painting the interior walls stark white to recapture the sense of light and airiness.

Vancouver, BC: In a fast moving 75 minute solo performance, Kahlil Ashanti perfoms episodes from his life, from the time he leaves  home to  enlist in the United States Air Force. He brings such fresh energy and immediacy  to the piece that  it was hard to believe that he premiered Basic Training in 2004 and has since brought it to many centres including the Edinburgh Fringe, and  New York.

Visit 1: Chilled by the icy wind and still stunned by the film we had just seen, (the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) we settled gratefully into the comfortable booth we were offered  and began to thaw. It was not quite 5:30 and quiet so we had the opportunity to chat  to Tracey, our charming server, about the restaurant and menus.  Although I was tempted by many of the other a la carte items on the menu, the Prix Fixe special that offered a soup or salad, an entree from the fresh sheet, and a dessert or cheese plate, was too good value to pass up.  And it was a good choice too.

As we walked along Granville looking for Ouisi (with my "infallible" sense of direction,  I had turned right - south instead of north from our parking spot on 12th), we were speculating about the origin of the name.  Since it could be deconstructed as oui and si, we decided that it must mean  "yes, yes." Great name for a restaurant, we thought. But after we found the place and were seated, Catherine, our smiling server, said it came from the middle part of Louisiana.  We should have guessed since it serves Cajun and Creole food.

Vancouver, BC:  It's been a busy week and I was hoping to "laugh myself silly" at this irreverent look at the life of Moses -  who rises from "foundling in the bullrushes" to Egyptian prince, and from exile to leader of the escape of the Hebrew slaves from Eqypt. Much of the opening night audience had a rip-roaring time and did indeed laugh themselves silly.  I can see how this would have been a great Fringe show when it was first performed a decade ago, and clearly many in the audience still think it great fun, so the fault, dear Brutus, must be with me.  I have  always preferred the acrobatic and technically skilled aspects of circus performances to clowning and I enjoy clever wit and satire more than "wonderfully silly" slapstick or farce. So for me  Holy Mo was mildly entertaining rather than "laugh out loud hilarious."  

Vancouver, BC: The thing about experimental theatre is that it it is experimental - and like any experiment sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. For me this one really didn't. I saw Marie Brassard's solo show, Jimmy,  several years ago and became an instant admirer of her work so I guess I expected to be similarly impressed. Unfortunately the brightness of the lights that were so integral to this piece, was so intense that I was either squinting or keeping my eyes closed for much of the time. So much so that when the lights went up my eyes felt as dry and sticky  as they do at the end of an overnight  plane trip when I watch back-to-back movies because I don't sleep on a plane. (Someone has to stay awake to make sure the darn thing is still up in the air, right?)