Stop # 1 out of 10 was the aquarium. The jellyfish have landed!
My ship came in last week, in the form of an inspiration pass. This is a fairly new program at the library where said pass grants you (as well as 1 additional adult and 4 children) free admission to most attractions in Vancouver. Of course, due to its popularity there is a lengthy wait to get one, but because of said popularity the program may be expanded and additional passes issued.
Stop # 1 out of 10 was the aquarium. The jellyfish have landed!
The cobblestones at Sun Yat-Sen Garden really caught my eye. Drinking tea, admiring the penjing, and noticing the many carefully-executed architectural details was a tranquil way to relax before heading to the the Vancouver Police Museum. There we learned about the Vancouver's early race riots, were chilled by details of various gruesome crimes from the city's sordid past, and saw a replica of a coroner's lab. Then at Science World I discovered that the modern beaver had an ancestor that was the size of a black bear. This fascinates me still.
Bloedel Conservatory was a good place to go to watch exotic birds preen themselves. Other highlights from the weekend included the Museum of Anthropology (including a worthwhile tour), the Beaty Biodiversity Museum (a real gem) and the Maritime Museum (I went in with no expectations, and was pleasantly surprised).
Fuel for all this inspiration included vegetarian poutine at Belle Potate, which ranked a solid 7 out of 10 on the poutine scale. The fries were excellent; the vegetarian gravy was... fine. This sort of lunch was balanced by a healthier dinner later on at Heirloom, which also served up a super tasty strawberry mojito - which will be super easy to make at home too!
Susannah's shop, The Curious Vitrine, is an "emporium of handmade art, curios & vintage collections". She's having a sale until June 9, so go check it out! As a fan of tone-on-tone, this cream crocheted cuff is my favourite item: it's "embellished with distressed vintage lace that has been hand-dyed with rosehip and hibiscus tea, and scattered with irridescent sequins". Charming!
I made a hat. It was actually finished some time ago, but I decided that it wasn't complete until I added gold sparkly bird pins. (Do they look like birds? I'm not so sure, but I do enjoy a pink/gold colour combination.) I shaped the "birds" out of modelling clay, used liberal amounts of awesome glitter from Paper-ya, and hot-glued pin backings on them. The stitch pattern is Little Birds, and the hat pattern is my own (it fits more like a beret than a toque, which may not be clear in this photo). I'm still working on my rose cardigan, but after seeing this incredibly cute hedgehog scarf, well... there's an incredibly cute hedgehog scarf in my future.
In food updates, high tea at Last Crumb was excellent; I'm also excited to find out that Butter has high tea too - this will be an expedition for May. I'm thinking of heading to Patisserie Lebeau for traditional Belgian waffles, and to Miura Waffle Milk Bar for a waffle sandwich (!). In the last while, I've had two excellent home-made breakfast items that are worth sharing: granola (the best I've made yet), and baked oatmeal (a nice change of pace from my regular go-to baked oatmeal with apples and raisins). Lastly, the April cookie of the month!
During a visit with my friend Sheena, many years ago, she whipped up this most delicious thing that she referred to as "spicy noodle sauce". I'm not sure where the recipe came from, but I made sure to get a copy of it. Then, for whatever reason, I only made it once or twice before it was inexplicably left to languish in my recipe binder. However, during a recent cupboard clean-out, I made the sauce again as part of a campaign to use up some aged rice noodles. I wondered if it would live up to my memory of it, if it would be as amazing now as I thought it was back then. And yes. It was. I had sauteed bok choy and tofu over noodles, but you could use this sauce as a dressing for a cold noodle salad, or maybe as a marinade. Try it and see - it's repertoire-worthy!
Spicy Noodle Sauce
Note: I've halved the quantities and tweaked the ingredients slightly.
Whisk together the following ingredients. The sauce should keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp chili sauce (I used sambal oelek)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2" chunk of ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp chili flakes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
In other food updates, The Last Crumb is a new-ish bakery on Main Street. After only two visits there, I'm prepared to say it may just be on par with Thierry (which is Vancouver's best bakery IMHO). It also turns out that The Last Crumb has afternoon tea on weekends; full report coming in April.
(By the way, this is a banana bread pudding with creme anglaise.)
And finally, the March cookie of the month. Solid!
Kitsch: something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste (so says dictionary.com).
Well, when Tara and I were out on Thursday evening and spied the flamingo and fairy-light covered patio of the Rumpus Room, we had to investigate. This establishment definitely appealed to our tawdry and undiscrimating sensibilities. The menu contains items like deep-fried pickles! Breakfast waffle burger! Burger with a side of waffle! To be sure though, they have lots of "real" food to choose from as well, and I was impressed with the extent of their vegetarian options. We stuffed our faces with spicy green beans, chicken for Tara, waffles for both of us, and some delicious strawberry mojito.
As a bonus, we had the nicest waitress ever, who could not wait to go chanterelle picking; apparently she makes a mean boozy chanterelle soup too!
Yesterday Sian and I took our bikes out to the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve Road - a 10km paved trail through the woods (for walking, cycling and roller blading; no motorized vehicles). This was my first time on a bike since my accident, and it was the perfect outing. Nice smooth road, 20km in total (plus riding to and from downtown), no traffic, pretty scenery...
At the end of the trail, there's an old growth loop through the woods, which was just icing on the cake.
The other great thing? This trail is accessible by transit - either take the 210 bus from downtown, or the 228 bus from Lonsdale Quay.
Now that my bike and I have been reunited, I can start planning my summer cycling trips. This route looks particularly inviting... Something to work up towards.
Things around here lately have been about day-to-day life. Appointments and work. I've been doing some spring cleaning, decluttering, and replacing or getting rid of anything that I feel negative about. Goodbye, 3 blackened and gungy cookie sheets and hello beautiful, pristine, over-priced cookie sheet from William Sonoma. Goodbye, old condiments that have been in the fridge far too long; goodbye frumpy functional skirt. Goodbye everyday dishes that I never liked and goodbye jeans that make me feel meh.
This week I've also been having January-in-June: watching episodes of Nigella Express and Nigella Feasts; reading through Posey Gets Cozy archives from fall/winter; watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Swing Time; turning on the fairy lights.
Last night I made a fantastic bagel melt from Rebar: toasted bagel with melted blue cheese, and then pear slices, arugula and rosemary on top. I also made rosemary-garlic olive oil which made my apartment smell amaaaaaaazing.
In the spirit of out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new, I'm finally going to update the pictures in these 4 white picture frames in my living room. This is an excellent opportunity to get into scherenschnitte (traditional papercutting) and to put some black and white designs in the frames. For papercutting inspiration, I go here (wonderful art) and here.
In foodness, Tara and Susannah and I had a lovely Saturday brunch at Bird's Nest. Tara introduced me to the Sweet Sugar Bean blog (the breakfast tacos are fabulous); and last night I was greedily purusing Joy the Baker's archives (why yes, I do believe I'm the very last person on the internet to read Joy the Baker).
Last week, I searched for art on etsy, and came across Janet Hill's work in about 2 seconds. It was a rare instance in finding something perfect on etsy right off the bat; I could easily have purchased her whole portfolio since I love her aesthetic; the print here is the one I ended up getting (now on my dining room table and awaiting a frame).