Friday, July 10, 2015

Vancouver's Raincity Grill morphs into the sleek Beach Bay Cafe and Patio

I was sad to hear of the Raincity Grill's closure in Vancouver's West End. But all is not lost! A new restaurant, the Beach Bay Cafe and Patio, has opened in its space on Denman Street -- just a few steps away from the beach at English Bay. And although I've yet to experience it, the images and descriptions of the new resto have put it at the top of my list the next time I take Amtrak Cascades to Vancouver. 

Now featuring a sleek and contemporary interior, there's also a heated patio for outdoor dining. The executive chef is Scott Korzack, a culinary alum of L'Abattoir. The Beach Bay Cafe's menu features west coast cuisine, ranging from black cod with green tomatoes and grilled cabbage to Carolina gold rice risotto with a soft poached egg, ramps and fresh herbs. The West End restaurant is also a part of Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program, with all seafood on the menu being sustainable. 

Head mixologist Adrian Lindner.
The bar, headed up by mixologist Adrian Lindner (formerly of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise), offers a wide array of cocktails that complement the menu's dishes. Enjoy such classics as a rye Old Fashioned or creative concoctions like the Blanco Sour -- Sauvignon Blanc, lillet, lime, egg white and black walnut bitters. One of my fondest memories of the Rain City Grill is experiencing Burrowing Owl wine for the first time -- it's still one of my BC favorites. The Beach Bay Cafe features both local and global wines, at multiple price points. 

1193 Denman Street, Vancouver
Open Daily: 5-11 PM (future plans include lunch)

Images courtesy Beach Bay Cafe and Patio

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Chef Canada Dale MacKay brings the Prairies to Vancouver for Edible Canada's Coast to Coast Dinner Series

Season One Top Chef Canada winner Dale Mackay is bringing his award-winning talents to Vancouver BC. The renowned chef will be cooking the second of Edible Canada's Coast to Coast Dinner Series on March 2, 2015. Produced by Edible Canada and held at its bistro on Granville Island, the dinner is part of a year-long series celebrating the provinces of Canada (February's Yukon Month dinner sold out). The evening celebrates MacKay's home province of Saskatchewan where he was born and raised. He is currently the chef and owner of the award winning restaurant Ayden Kitchen & Bar in Saskatoon. 

Chef MacKay won the inaugural season of Top Chef Canada and has cooked in some of the country's top kitchens. A former protege of Chef Gordon Ramsay, MacKay took over for Rob Feenie at the now dark but illustrious Lumiere in Vancouver. He returned to his hometown of Saskatoon where he opened Ayden Kitchen & Bar, focusing on modern Canadian comfort food. 

"We are incredibly excited to have Chef MacKay join us behind the stoves as part of this series," said Edible Canada President and Executive Chef Eric Patemen. "Dale is that change-making chef leading the charge in celebrating and defining our food culture." 

MacKay's dinner will highlight the food indigenous to the Prairies and the history and heritage of Saskatchewan. The three-course sit-down feast is open to 75 diners, and each course will be paired with handcrafted cocktails created by Ayden Kitchen & Bar's GM and Mixologist Christopher Cho. 

Tickets for the dinner on Monday, March 2 (6-10 PM) are $125 and may be booked online at Edible Canada. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Victoria's Fairmont Empress features ice skating for the holidays

Victoria, BC is beautiful during the holidays, from its colorfully lit BC Parliament Building overlooking Victoria Harbour to the 12 Days of Christmas displays and lighting at The Butchart Gardens. Another holiday attraction is The Fairmont Empress, glowing both inside and out. And this year they've added an ice skating rink, located on the hotel's expansive front lawn.

The covered rink, measuring approximately 60' X 90', offers public skating weekdays from 5-9 PM and 12-9 PM on weekends through the middle of January. Featured activities include Skate 'n Date Nights, Family Skate Afternoons, Sunday Skates with Santa and Christmas Eve Skating with the Elves (which includes hot cocoa and cider). For groups, there are Office Skates, Holiday Parties on Ice and Break + Skate meeting options.  The cost to skate is $10 per person and $5 for children 10 and under. Skate rentals are available for $5.

Photos courtesy The Fairmont Empress

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Scuba Claus returns to the Vancouver Aquarium for daily dives during the holidays

Scuba Claus. Photo courtesy Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

Scuba Claus is back! And the newly expanded Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is welcoming his annual holiday appearance as he does his daily dive in the Georgia Strait. Santa made his diving debut on November 27 and will continue diving through December 24.

The underwater Santa exhibition features colorful marine life found on BC's coastlines, which includes halibut, rockfish, sturgeon, crabs and sea stars. Other holidays highlights include:
  • Electric eel-powered holiday tree, with lanterns that light up when an electric eel discharges a pulse
  • Jelly swarm exhibit, featuring origami jellies beaming with colorful LED lights
  • 4-D theatre film adventure of The Polar Express, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year 
  • Peter Clarkson's Marine-Debris Tree art installation, built with debris collected during this year's shoreline cleanup along the West Coast Trail
  • Frozen Moments: Images of the Arctic photo exhibit, showcasing the Arctic as captured by five photographers: David McEown, Daisy Gilardini, Mark Robinson, Rob Stimpson, Nansen Weber
  • Outdoor maze of decorated living trees
  • Stories and crafts with Scuba Claus' elves
Holiday highlights at the Vancouver Aquarium run through January 4, 2015.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Canada's Remembrance Day ceremonies include visit to Ottawa by Princess Anne

Homemade poppy at The Peacekeeping Monument in Ottawa

In the United States, November 11 is commonly known as Veterans Day. But in Canada, it's Remembrance Day or Poppy Day. You can read more about the history of Remembrance Day in my previous blog post

I was in Canada on Remembrance Day during my Great Big Canadian Train Adventure in 2009. Poppies were everywhere, including the one I photographed above. It was placed on Reconciliation: The Peacekeeping Monument in Ottawa, dedicated to Canadian peacekeepers, both living and dead. 

Remembrance Day will be particularly poignant in Canada's capital city this year. On October 22, 2014 an armed attacker shot and killed a soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. 

Across Canada, there will be special Remembrance Day events, and Ottawa will be graced with the appearance of Her Royal Highness Princess Anne at the National War Memorial. The ceremony begins at 11 AM on Tuesday, November 11, and will be broadcast on CBC.