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.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Scotiabank Giller Prize Gala: CBC's Rick Mercer replaces ousted Jian Ghomeshi as host of awards show

CBC's Rick Mercer

With the downward spiral of CBC's ousted Jian Ghomeshi, the on-air journalist's to-do list keeps getting shorter and shorter. So it was no surprise that soon after CBC gave Ghomeshi the heave-ho, the Scotiabank Giller Prize had second thoughts about having him host its annual literary gala -- to be broadcast on CBC Monday, November 10 (times vary). Replacing him will be CBC veteran TV host Rick Mercer. Here's what the Giller Prize had to say about the switch on its website : 

"As our broadcast partner, it is up to the CBC to select a Scotiabank Giller Prize gala host. We respect that decision, and that is the decision we communicated via social media yesterday (Sunday, October 26th) in response to inquiries. We all recognize fans and followers are feeling dismay and confusion. We thank those who have offered supportive words to the Giller Prize as we work to bring our occasion back to a focus on celebrating Canadian literature and our six authors shortlisted for this year’s prize. We will share our further updates and those of our partners as they become available."

Rick Mercer is best known for his political satire on the CBC shows This Hour Has 22 Minutes and The Rick Mercer Report. Joining him will be six presenters who will introduce the authors and their books. They include:
  • The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis will be presented by Kim Coates
  • Tell by Frances Itani will be presented by Yannick Bisson
  • Us Conductors by Sean Michaels will be presented by David Usher
  • The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill will be presented by Jessica ParĂ©
  • All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews will be presented by Naomi Klein
  • The Ever After of Ashwin Rao by Padma Viswanathan will be presented by Deepa Mehta
JUNO-nominated classical pianist Jan Lisiecki, a 19-year-old, will perform during the gala. 

The Scotiabank Giller Prize highlights the best in Canadian fiction each year. Beginning in 2014, the prize will award $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English, and $10,000 to each of the five finalists. The award is named in honor of the late literary journalist Doris Giller and was founded in 1994 by her husband, Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch.
Jian Ghomeshi will be a no-show at the black-tie gala at the Ritz-Carlton.

Watch the Scotiabank Giller Prize Gala live online! Monday, November 10, CBC Books