March 2009

One evening over dinner, the discussion came round to memorable meals away, and the topic of roast beef, English style came up.  Recalling wonderful meals in London, and a few restaurants in the US, that serve  beef slices carved at table-side from a large roast, a fellow diner bemoaned the fact that he had not found a restaurant in Vancouver that served up such meals.  When I tried to remember when I had last had roast beef or for that matter, roast lamb or ham served in that way, I could only think of events such as  buffets at conference banquets or cruise buffets!   And at the conference buffets, there were usually long line ups to get a bun, smear it with mustard or other condiments, and then have a cook slap a semi-congealed piece of meat onto the bun. Hmmm. Not too appealing.

Since this is my "hood" I felt it was time to re-explore more of Yaletown's fine restaurants. We were going  to the Arts Club at Granville Island to see The Real Thing but instead of re-visiting one of the places I have already reviewed and walking to the show, I decided to try  the "dine and dash". No, in my lingo that does not mean leave without paying - but eating more than a short walking distance away and then zipping over the Granville Street bridge to the theatre.

Continuing my exploration of the dining scene in the Kitsilano area I decided to check out The New Bohemian before going off to see The Idiots Karamazov at the Freddy Wood Theatre at UBC. It has been open about a year, I was told, in the location where Fiction had been previously. I appreciated that they opened up the wall between the lounge and bar area  - the place  seemed larger and more open than I remembered. We recognised scenes from The Graduate projected on the wall as we entered.

Tom Stoppard's play is about  honesty and dishonesty in love and  relationships; using the metatheatrical concept of a play-within-a play with the adulterous interactions of the "actors" mirroring the "real life" characters on stage. The whole premise sounded intriguing and it worked before for him.  I  really liked the only two previous Stoppard plays that I have read and seen, namely  Arcadia  and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. So I was expecting that this show would top off a week of excellent theatre. But alas, not.


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Strong as the draw to California is, it is great to be back in Vancouver and watching the sun glint off the water as I write. Yes, I should be outside with the other hordes on the sea wall but mail piles up when you are away and laundry takes forever, now that I actually separate colours and delicates. Mind you I still don't iron. It's been a matter of  principle for me since my days as a medical resident. If it needs ironing don't buy it is my motto.

Vancouver, BC:  I was really happy to be able to catch the closing night performance of Toronto Mississippi, the day after I returned after three weeks away from Vancouver. The play itself is one that I had often heard discussed but had never read nor seen performed and I expected that Dean Paul Gibson would draw strong performances from the cast of Colleen Wheeler (Maddie),  Meg Roe (Jhana), Bill MacDonald (King) and Alessandro Juliani (Bill). 

This review covers my latest two visits to Cassis Bistro although I have been there several times before. Cassis is about two blocks away from the Vancouver Playhouse so it is very convenient  for pre-show dining. On previous occasions at Cassis I always opted for their entree of Muscovy Duck braised with oranges, so I thought it was time to try their other dishes.

While I am enjoying the simple pleasures of cuddling a newborn, spending time with family and taking long hikes through the nearby  ravine and park, I am missing much of the exciting theatre activities in Vancouver.  However the band of dedicated and astutue audience members from my home complex are not missing much.

To kick off  RAProductions SOLO Series of fundraisers for PAL,  Willy Russell's classic play Shirley Valentine featuring Nicola Cavendish was the inaugural pick. 

On Sunday we headed down to the Farmers' Market in search of a particular type of bread that is a household favorite. The market  turned out to be located in the parking lot just in front of the dance studio where I have been taking a couple of classes, mainly Latin dance- samba, rumba, jive, chachacha.

Even for a directionally challenged individual like me, driving in South Orange County is a pleasure. Each time I come here I appreciate the ease with which one can get around - by car.   Streets are clearly identified, the traffic lanes are wide (and so generally are parking spaces and parking is usually free) - and best of all, almost all major intersections have left turn signals. Sure one waits a little longer at a light but the traffic flows smoothly and you don't have idiots shooting through on the yellow and red and potentially causing a lethal accident. Compared to the speeding, tailgating, lane swerving Vancouver drivers who drive faster the harder it rains, people seem to drive more calmly here.

Since I often seem to be travelling when Dineout Vancouver and A Taste of Yaletown are on, I was pleased to note  that  Orange County has a Restaurant  Week  in Orange County - a similar program, it seems. Although the dates on the web site indicated that it  officially ran during the last week in February, a number of restaurants extended the program by a week, till the 7th March.  Our decision to go out for a nice meal on Saturday, meant that we e caught the tail end of the program.  We went to OPAH Restaurant in Aliso Viejo, which was one of the places that had extended their Restaurant Week special.   

We decided that we should try to fit in a nice dinner out one night BBC (Before baby comes) and decided on OPAH Restaurant and Bar which was about 5 minutes away by car. Thinking that our party of three adults and a  4 year old would be better off  away from the bar area, we decided to try the patio. I was a bit sceptical at first but the  overhead heaters worked fine to take the slight chill out of the air and we were very comfortable.

Today on a poster at my grand-daughter's preschool, I read that insects make up 75% of the world's species. Together with termite colonies, wasp nests and protective mimicry, the poster illustrated the process of metamorphosis. Aha I thought, I too must be part insect (evolution and all that) because I step on the plane in Vancouver as an energetic, literary, fit, ballroom dancing gourmet and oenophile, and emerge at John Wayne Airport as ... Granny - good for cuddles, stories and snacks.

When you live in Vancouver and your children live in Ontario, New York State and California, geometry and physics begin to loom large in your thoughts. As I sat at the departure gate at San Francisco airport, watching the activity outside and munching on my avocado and cheese on sour-dough bun from Bourdin (my favorite way of dealing with the stop over at SFO), I thought about distances, direct flights and trapezoids, and learned something interesting.