Finding Beauty – in My Back Yard

Sometimes, you don’t need to look far…

I’ve been shooting photos for my landlady so she has a collection of the flowers and trees she has on her property. No photo walking here – all the beauty I need to find is right outside my door! It’s an #EyeOpener we should all remember.

Enjoy.

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Blind Tastings – It’s Not Always About Food. It’s About Comfort

Just a thought prompted by a conversation I had with a lovely friend a few days ago…

A restaurant can be so much more than a place to eat a favourite dish, or grab a few drinks with friends. It can be a sanctuary, a refuge, a source of warmth.

Three and a half years ago, my husband Dave was very ill in hospital with heart and kidney failure. Everyone, except he, knew he would’t make it this time. And every day, I was there, for five months. And every evening, tired, drained, I would stop by one of my Yaletown haunts to grab a little something to eat before I went home to the cats and get ready to do it all over again the next day.

I had three favourites – Hapa Izakaya, where I could satisfy my nigiri fix when I felt the need to eat extra healthy; Cactus Club, where I could sit in one of their cosy little booths in the back and silently cry and no one would notice; and Society, where the staff treated me so kindly, they would stealthily take my dinner off my bill and I’d only pay for my wine. They all gave me solace when I needed it most – and I never really thanked them, or acknowledged their kindness. I regret that.

I remember one night so vividly. It had been one of those hard days, when nothing went right, nothing was good and everything looked grim. I was so tired, so sad, that all I wanted to do was grab a bite and go home. I slipped into Hapa, was greeted warmly, and ordered a light meal. It didn’t take me long to notice that the young man sitting beside me was ordering some interesting dishes.

Naturally, I thought he must have been a food writer (I know a few!). But when I asked him, he laughed and said no. He just knew the chef and was a kind of guinea pig. Then he asked me if I lived in the area and if this was one of my local places. So, I told him that this was one of my go-to places on the way home.

He was still well into his meal when I finished, so I said good night and called for my bill. And he laid his hand on mine, and told me to go home. He was taking care of the bill.

I almost fell to the ground in gratitude. And I hugged him, in tears. I’ve never forgotten.

Why is this memory so strong this week? Because I’ve again been blessed with kindness from a variety of people, and again, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude.

I think we forget sometimes how fantastic humans can be to each other.

Let’s not forget.

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My Roving Eye – Windows, Doors, Wheels and Wanderlust in Paris

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I’m feeling very nostalgic today. Maybe because it’s spring, maybe because I’ve just discovered some photos I thought were lost – but my mind and heart are back in Paris, where I was two years ago…wandering. I’m not saying that … Continue reading

Blind Tastings – Finger Lickin’ Goodness at Earls Yaletown

“Some 30 years ago, Leroy Earl Fuller and his son Stanley Earl Fuller had a simple idea: a laid-back burger & beer joint. When the restaurant started, there was no question about what the name would be. It had to be called Earls.”

Until I read the history of Earls Kitchen and Bar, I had no idea how this iconic chain got its start. And, until this week, I hadn’t eaten dinner at an Earls, ever. Well, that will change. I’ll be going back for the food, the atmosphere and the service. And for another reason, which I’ll save for the end…

So, what drew me to Earls on a pleasant spring evening? Ribs. Succulent ribs. Intriguing cocktails. All part of Earls’ #ThisCallsForRibs promotion.

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And a wonderful group of people brought together by Host Extraordinaire Marc Smith.

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My dining companions also included Dianne ChowMary SheridanBrian Webb, Adrian and Jeremy AKA The Food Gays, Christa Leigh and the awesome Cate Simpson of Earls.

Cate introduced us to the cocktail of the evening – the Mad Hatter. The presentation was fantastic and would have been a perfect addition at Alice’s Tea Party, with a warm vodka-based brew poured out of individual smoking teapots. It was delicious! (And I’m not a cocktail drinker.)

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And as for the main course…what do YOU think??

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And until June 17, you can get this delicious meal for $25. An extra $4 will get you an Alexander Keith’s IPA.

Normally after a feast like this I don’t even have the capacity to even THINK of dessert. But I did take a piece of Key Lime pie home and had it for breakfast the next day:-)

We all obviously had a ball. Thanks to Marc and to Cate – and to Megan, our awesome server.

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There’s another, important reason I’ll go back to Earls. When I was looking at their web site, I came across something that made me very happy. An #EyeOpener for sure.

Earls posts its own Guest Accessibility Policy.

How can you not love an establishment that uses words like ‘dignity’ and ‘independence’ when talking about disabled people? We don’t hear them often enough. Thank you, Earls.

 

“Your Menu Was Burning…”

I can’t lie. I love eating out. Discovering terrific bars and restaurants, experiencing the joys of new taste sensations, savouring an outstanding wine – have been a passion and a pleasure ever since I was a student at McGill almost 40 years ago. I just wish that I had had my trusty iPhone and digital camera around to capture all of my dining experiences over the years.

I’ve been fortunate to attend many food and drink related events in Vancouver and document my experiences through the eye of the camera lens. But because I was out of the loop for much of last year, I’ve missed out on many opportunities to add my unique perspective to the food scene.

I’m here today to say I’m back – with Blind Tastings. (Pardon the pun…)

I’m ready to share my eating and drinking experiences in the Greater Vancouver area and beyond, and as usual, I can promise you photos that will hopefully have you almost smelling and tasting what I shoot.

But I’m going to provide an additional twist. And it’s all because of a candle and a menu with a mind of its own.

Many years ago, when my late husband Dave and I lived in Toronto, we went out to dinner at a small cafe. Unfortunately for me, the menu was very hard to read, so I pulled the candle on the table over so I could read it a bit better. It was a long thin menu, and as I worked my way down the list of offerings, I was unaware that the menu curled itself right into the candle. I was shocked into reality by a cup of water poured over me and the server’s voice saying, “Sorry, ma’am, but your menu was burning!”.

That encounter has stayed with me, and over the years, I’ve had cause to reflect how my own dining adventures could result in an improved and more accessible experience for disabled and senior diners.

So, I’ll still be taking great pics, and sharing my favourite menu items with you – but at the end, I’ll add a small tip on what the venue could do, or did do to improve my time there. It may be a real #EyeOpener.

And my very first Blind Tastings post will be up tomorrow!

Now, where do I head next? I’m open to suggestions…

 

 

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