Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mountainview Cemetery

Well, today I served breakfast and then ran out of the house! Perhaps a little more dramatic than what really happened which was that I rushed out of the house to get to Mountainview Cemetery for 9:45 because at 10 am me and my SSAG group were going on a cemetary tour. The SSAG group began in Dublin last year. Four of us had gone to Europe on a cruise on the Baltic and then met a friend in Dublin, Ireland. The 5 of us were walking Grafton Street and then to the St. Stephens Green (park) and we were having the best fun - Penny and I danced a Rhumba to a busker on the street and we'd just strolled through the park, everyone was having a great time seeing new things. Why would we go 8,000 miles and do that there but not at home? No good answer, so we decided to have our little group do interesting things when we went home, we would share the responsibility of the organization of the event and it would be a surprise. We called the group - SSAG - St. Stephen's Activity Group.

So this was Doc's event - the Cemetery Tour. The location was Fraser and 41st avenue and it is a huge city owned cemetary. We went to the old section of the cemetary to see some notable tomb stones - one of them is Joe Forte - his photo is hung on our wall in the Guest House. We also heard a few other stories along with the tomb stones. It was pouring with rain - thank goodness for my heated seats in the car when we finished. If this is your thing and you want to hear from Vancouver history I would recommend it.

Next on the SSAG agenda was to go to ChinaTown for lunch. The restaurant chosen was "East of Main". It is a mediterranean inspired restaurant, it is casual and not expensive, lunch for 6 (oh yes, we acquired another SSAG member when we got home from Ireland) with two bottles of wine, 6 entres and 3 deelish desserts was only $175.00. The restuarant supports a not for profit organization in the Chinatown area for youth and performance arts - a very worthy endeavour. Apparently on Monday nights you might even see local actors reading or whatever actors do when they have an audience. And servicing us was my favourite waitress, Andree from the Twisted Fork - another great restaurant on Granville Street - included in our Victoria Tour Package.

Of course when we were all done the rain stopped but we had to go home. Chinatown has changed - morphed really and isn't the same place it used to be. Less touristy and more local. I have to go back and explore...apparently there is a pie shop bakery I need to find! And of course if I am hungry I would definitely find my way back to East of Main.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Vancouver Tourism Outing

Today was a staff event day.  Normally we work within the house and concentrate on our guests and making things as perfect as possible.  But we have to know stuff too so today was an exhibition of things about Vancouver put on by the Chef Clef D'Or (Gold Key Concierge) and Tourism Vancouver.  It is held every spring and it is where we can go to find out all the interesting bits of information we can pass on to our guests.  We have bags and bags of brochures and tickets and maps and even a flashing rubber diamond ring from a Casino.  So much to see, so much to know and so many people who are there for our guests all summer and all year long telling us what they do.

After the event we had lunch at the new Cactus Club restaurant at Canada Place / Convention Centre.  Master Chef Rob Feenie was hard at work trying new dishes, pacing the floor, seeing how the food was being appreciated and probably interviewing more staff.  We found out that this 500 seat restaurant has a staff of 300 - our waitress only knew a few of the other wait staff!  The view from our booth was stupendous.  It was of the SeaWall leading away from the Convention Centre, looking at the marina with all its beautiful yachts and sail boats (we didn't see the houseboats till our walk home along the SeaWall) and Stanley Park in the background.  Pretty amazing view.  I think the view was only rivaled by the Helicopter which flew in and landed just a hundred yards or so from the Cactus Club's front door.  The Helicopter had advertising from the Fairmont Hotel Pacific Rim so everyone was speculating about which important personality would be emerging.  When we sat down and saw our view and was greeted by a very friendly server - Tanya S - we lost all interesting in celebrity.  Lunch was very good, my favourite was the Ceviche, although I also had the Quinoa salad because I know so many guests just want a "salad" after traveling all day - well this could be the place to have it!

This evening after Sherry Service I had to get a couple things for breakfast from the corner store.  I took a couple of snaps of the flowers along the way, they are not great photos but if you can see beyond the iPhone camera with a bag of groceries hanging from my write you'll see beautiful Tulips infront of Weeks House and a Cherry Tree in full pink blossom.  It is a glorious time to be in Vancouver.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Vancouver Sun Run

Vancouver Sun Run is happening on April 21st. That's tomorrow as I write this. We have guests participating and we wish them well. The weather should be perfect - no Rain, not hot but very comfortable and a great turn out as always. 50,000 people will be taking to the streets. Downtown Vancouver will be a busy and vibrant place. West End Guest House is in the centre of it all and our guests won't have to worry about driving because it is all within walking distance.

Granville Island is busy these days too. Street entertainment, Buskers, I even saw a Magician today...sort of a Merlin type with a long cone shaped hat and silky robes...don't know what he was doing there but he must have been there awhile because he was pretty old. Went to see Craigslist Contata plat at the Revue Stage - Part of the Arts Club. Very funny and clever. If it is still playing when you get here I would highly recommend it.

Tried out PidGin restaurant in Gastown. This is an Asian influenced cuisine. Between 3 of us we had 7 dishes. Everything was really different and really tasty. One of those meals where your palate is treated to different textures and flavours so you don't need to feel full. I didn't even after the Elk Saam and the Duck with carrot cake mousse - OMG! Good. Ya, so I was saying I still had some room so we tried 2 desserts both delish as well.

After dinner I had to say a thing or two to the protesters outside the restaurant. They are protesting Gentrification of Gastown. Sadly no one was old enough to remember Gastown when there were thriving retail businesses and just about anyone would go there. The protesters are just assuming that having new businesses returning will mean there won't be housing for the people who are living there now. I'm pretty certain no one lived in the corner store that was closed for 20 years before it became the Restaurant. The Gastown Culinary scene is where it is happening in the city. No miss it, even if you have to cross a picket line. (this is the only place being picketed).

Speaking of culinary treats; we also visited Vancouver Olive Oil Company on Broadway. What an experience that was. Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar tasting. I bought an Espresso Balsamic and a Pear and Cinnamon Balsamic and a Herb de Provence Olive Oil....can you imagine tomorrows strawberries with Espresso Balsamic and plain Persian Yogurt!

Good luck if you are running tomorrow and Bon Appetit if you are sitting at my breakfast table tomorrow.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Breakfast Shot

Part of what we do for breakfast is a shot of pure juices.  It is just a little blast to the stomach before introducing the rest of breakfast....for those guests who've had too much coffee this really helps to aid the appetite.  Up until a little while ago we always bought our juice.  It was a good thing, a local company who made several different types of juices so we could have some variety.  But that has all changed.  I now have a NutriBullet and we have been making our own smoothies.  For those who like cooking I can tell you that a banana and spinach with a few other things go pretty well together...who would have thought?  Check out our Recipes page for our latest Smoothie creations.