Saturday, August 15, 2015

'Treasures of the Chinese Scholar's Studio' opens at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

A Gathering of Literati handscroll, ink and colours on silk attributed to Qiu Ying (1494? – 1552), but an exquisite 18th century copy Intended Gift of Robin Bassett.
Traditional Chinese culture highly values all things related to the scholar's studio -- where most of the nation's art and literature were created. To appreciate the scholar's studio up close, see the new exhibition at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Treasures of the Chinese Scholar's Studio opened August 14 and runs through November 15, 2015. 

According to AGGV's Asian Art curator Barry Till, Chinese scholars were the educated and privileged elite -- officials, academics, poets, calligraphers, painters and connoisseurs. "They were highly esteemed," said Till. "Their tastes and artwork had tremendous influence on their country's culture." 

The AGGV's collection of 200 treasures on display gives a glimpse into the life of a Chinese scholar. The exhibition includes pieces from the Shang dynasty (16 to 11 century BCE), to the later Ming dynasty (17 century ADE) and Qing dynasty (early 19 century ADE). It includes many recently donated pieces that have never been previously exhibited. Among the artifacts are the scholars' studio materials, antiques and works of art.

Till says that a Chinese scholar's studio would have been strewn with brushes, inkstones, paper, seals, paper weights, teapots, wine cups, incense burners and paper. "The most important were known as the four treasures, and they were the essentials: brush, ink, inkstone and paper," said Till.

The exhibition includes 20 important ancient inkstones recently donated to the AGGV. Inkstones are the stones used for the grinding and containment of ink. Because the stone affects the texture of the ink, a good inkstone is as important as good ink for serious calligraphers and painters.

Running in conjunction with the exhibition are a lecture and a tour, both included with Gallery admission or membership:

  • The Rocks, Stones and Seals: An Excursion into Daoist Aesthetics. September 9, 2PM. Dr. Jordan Paper highlights the relevance of sealstones, inkstones and rocks as they pertain to Daoist aesthetics upheld by Chinese scholars. 
  • Curator's Tour led by Barry Till. September 30, 2-3PM. 

Monday, August 03, 2015

Go for the Gold! Discover the Past's Gold Fever Trail Walking Tour in Victoria, BC

John Adams of Discover the Past walking tours. ©SueFrausePhoto

I've been on several of John Adams' Discover the Past walking tours, and they're a fun way to explore Victoria and learn more about the provincial capital's history. This summer, Adams has teamed up with the Royal BC Museum, and is offering a Gold Fever Trail Walking Tour. 

Participants will walk in the footsteps of gold rush personalities, plus see some of Victoria's legendary and lesser-known sites that served the miners of BC's gold rushes. Victoria was the port of entry for merchants, prospectors, card sharks, heroes and villains -- and even a herd of camels. 

During the 90-minute walking tour, each participant will take on a real character, making choices that will determine his/her fate. Along the way, you'll hear anecdotes about the colorful people; see some of the city's famous sites in Old Town; and learn how to pan for gold. 

Tours run daily at 1PM through September 6, 2015. Meet in front of the Royal BC Museum at the gold panning trough. Tickets are $15, and may be purchased online. 

To learn more about the Gold Rush, visit the Gold Rush!: El Dorado in BC exhibition now on display at the Royal BC Museum through October 31, 2015. 

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