Thursday, October 4, 2012

Moving On

I've decided to no longer post on this blog, and instead to focus on writing content for The Vancouver Vantage, my partner's wonderful website all about interesting happenings in our great city. I've been syndicating EVR postings there for a while now, and it makes sense to just write there directly from now on. Please go there now to check out my review of Blind Date at the Cultch!

Thanks to my friends, family and all those random Urbanspooners worldwide for reading my posts this past year and a half. I hope they made you smile and helped you make great decisions about what to see, eat, drink, do and buy in East Vancouver!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Good Timber

It's been a while since we visited the Firehall Arts Centre, and last night's performance of Good Timber made us happy to be back. We've come to expect multi-talented ensemble casts at Firehall shows, and Good Timber fits that mold to a tree. The show features six actor/singer/musicians from The Other Guys Theatre Company performing Robert E. Swanson's logger poetry mostly set to music.

There isn't really a sustained narrative, but each song and poem tells its own story, all against a backdrop of wonderfully curated archival photos and video. Sometimes it was difficult to decide whether to watch the cast or the screen, especially when said screen featured images of handsome, strapping young lads from days gone by.

You might think this production has a fairly limited target audience, and certainly those with any kind of connection to forestry will find it especially gratifying. That being said, anyone with a penchant for rousing folk harmonies will enjoy the show. A caveat for the logging lay people: read the glossary before the show starts, lest all of the jargon sail over your head like a falling widow-maker.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fat Dragon

With a gloriously open summer evening on our hands, we decided to check out something new to both of us and walkable. Enter Fat Dragon. As a reformed vegetarian, I had been hesitant to check this place out, but a quick perusal of their menu online assured me that, barring anyone ordering the half pig's head, I should be fine.

We arrived to see a gorgeous space, which was disappointingly empty. After tasting the food and experiencing the service, we concluded that many people must still be apprehensive about venturing to these parts. There are other relatively new signs of life on this strip of Powell, but this place is certainly a longer term investment. Now, on to the food and drink!

I started with a delicately sweet Junmai Sour, which was so delicious that only my budget stopped me from ordering at least three more. There are several beers available on tap and by bottle, both local and otherwise. M enjoyed his SpeedSpitter from Parallel 49 Brewing Company.

We ordered a selection of dishes to share, and were only disappointed by the crispy cauliflower. Unlike other bloggers, I enjoyed the method of cooking, but the lemon flavour was too dominant, and made it far less delicious than say Najib's Special at Nuba. The lightly smoked tuna was fantastic, as were the complimentary noodles the kitchen sent us (thanks!). We thought we might have to order additional Bao Buns at the end of the meal, but we were suitably stuffed with no room for dessert, savoury or otherwise.

Fat Dragon deserves more of an audience than it seems to have, (at least based on last night), and I hope the hungry masses start coming!

Fat Dragon on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 18, 2012

The one where I get Sweet Revenge on my diet

Last night, M and I checked out the opening of JG Mair's Thought Control exhibit at Little Mountain Gallery. The space lives up to its diminiutive moniker, and after a few minutes, we'd already enjoyed all of the very intriguing text based sculptures. We realized we would need a supplemental activity to make our jaunt to Riley Park worthwhile. Enter Sweet Revenge, a tiny patisserie to match the petite gallery across the street.

As someone with a formidable sweet tooth, I'm surprised I'd never heard of this desserts/evenings only spot, which has been around for over a decade. Better late than never, though, and in we went. The randomly Victorian decor is beguiling in the extreme, and I didn't even mind (too much) that we had to sit side by side on a narrow banquet crammed against the front entryway. The old-timey music playing softly in the background adds to the considerable charm.

We overheard the server explaining that there was one remaining "CSI: Vancouver" chocolate sampler for two, so we decided to go all out. The CSI  is normally only available Monday-Wednesday, and this being a Thursday, ours had clearly been waiting in the fridge for at least a day. The cakes were a little too cold and hard, and much to my dismay, the chocolate shavings and raspberry drizzle garnish were, by this point, solidly attached to the plate. That being said, we could taste the homemade goodness through the oldness, and I'd like to go back to soak up the atmosphere and try something a little more fresh.

Sweet Revenge Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breaking Good

Sorry, I couldn't help myself!

Last night a small group of us went to see IZM at the Cultch's beautiful Historic Theatre. We left with the distinct (and true) impression that the dancers in this troupe are all way cooler than us. I wasn't sure how they would create an entire show around b-boying/girling, but the resulting production is really wonderful.

The choreography is equal parts clever and joyful sprinkled with a healthy dash of narrative. Many of the moves don't even make physical sense, and the athleticism is literally breathtaking at times. M was almost constantly resisting the urge to Shazam all the amazing music.

On top of all that, the eye candy is plentiful no matter your gender or orientation. You'll probably be inspired, (at least for the rest of the evening), to start going to the gym.

The show runs four more evenings, and tickets start at just $16!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Via Tevere Pizzeria

Vancouver, as compared to American cities like Seattle and Portland, is definitely lacking in the neighbourhood restaurant category. Here, your odds of stumbling on a little gem of a place tucked in an otherwise largely residential area are as slim as the crusts on the city's now-ubitiquitous Neapolitan pizzas. Enter Via Tevere, which seems to have continued the trend of victory against archaic liquor licensing laws!

I drive up Victoria frequently, and I've noticed a queue pouring out of this pizzeria ever since it opened on March 23rd. (Take note, potential restauranteurs...there is a huge demand for neighbourhood joints!) D, E, and I decided to check it out two Friday evenings ago. When we were finally seated, we immediately ordered the litre of house wine ($30!) over which we had been salivating outside for the past hour. I do wish they would accept some reservations, because I can't see myself waiting an hour for a table every time, though I'm beyond pleased that they're so busy.

Our server was friendly, attentive, and apologetic for our long wait. I'm not sure if that's why they gave us a free dessert, but if I were eating sweets this month (which I'm not), I would have been very grateful for it! D and E certainly enjoyed the sweet fried balls of dough.

The vegetarian pizza options are Marinara (no cheese, no thanks), Filetto (not a fan of cherry tomatoes), Margherita (boring), and Quattro Formaggi. I went with the four cheese. It was a little overcooked, but the non-blackened parts were very delicious. I wish there were a more loaded vegetarian option, because even if you start with the $11 Margherita, adding a few vegetable toppings at $3 a pop will quickly make your pizza untenably expensive. I think $3 each for vegetable toppings is a bit unreasonable. Just saying.

At any rate, the charming and convenient location of Via Tevere means it didn't have to knock my socks off to ensure a repeat visit. I'll definitely be back, but I'd love it even more if they tweaked the menu a bit, and pulled the pizzas out of that gorgeous turquoise tile oven just a few moments sooner!

Via Tevere Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project)

Last night we enjoyed the opening night performance of Ubuntu (The Capetown Project) at our favourite little theatre, the Firehall Arts Centre. Somewhat uncharacteristically, I didn't do much research before the show, so all I knew going in was how much I liked to yell the word "Ubuntu!" As it turned out, I liked the play itself just as much, if not more.

The stage boasts three walls made from very cleverly deployed old trunks, which had M and I marveling at the set designer's ingenuity throughout the play. The excellent choreography similarly managed to get the point across and keep the action moving (across the Atlantic and back!) without resorting to elaborate props or extended scenes.

I am not one to (try to) figure out the story before it's finished being told, so I enjoyed the plot's twists and eventual tying up of loose ends. The talented cast mostly refrains from overacting, which must be difficult when dealing with such big themes and emotions.

Produced in partnership with Kamloops' Western Canada Theatre and Toronto's Theatrefront, Ubuntu runs evenings with some matinees until April 21, and tickets are still available!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Eat, Drink & Perch at the ARC Cafe

Recently, M and I were thinking of a very East Van place to take Kits friends on a double date. When I found out the lovely wife had a gluten intolerance, I knew exactly where we would go. I've been to the little cafe usually known simply as Perch several times since their Groupon last summer, but I kept forgetting to blog about it. Dear readers, that is about to change.

Apparently, one generally pays through the nose for gluten free pizzas. Not at Perch, my friends, not at Perch. The (generously) individual sized pizzas are one for $11, or two for $20. It being a Friday, we took advantage of the $14 pizza and pint weekly special. As always, the pizzas were delicious, whether or not you're used to eating gluten free. I can't speak to the rest of the menu, except for the tofu nuggets with maple sauce, which are quite tasty as well as ironically shaped. The service can be a bit spaced out, but I take it as part of the experience.

Judging by the numerous rule explanation signs they've taped up recently, there have been some issues with noise, smoking, and alcohol on the patio. I hope they can resolve whatever has been going on; it'd be a shame to lose this little gluten free neighbourhood gem.

Eat, Drink & Perch at the ARC Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Last night M and I headed to the Firehall Arts Centre to check out the premiere of Goodness, which runs until March 11. It's not exactly the feel-good production of the year, but nonetheless, we both enjoyed it thoroughly.

Weaving together themes of genocide in an unnamed country, the Holocaust, and good old fashioned divorce-induced heartbreak, Goodness certainly packs an emotional punch. At times, the set up of the theatre brings the action a little too close for comfort, but this is by design. Goodness is a play written to make you question what you would do in similarly intense circumstances.

The acting is uniformly focused and crisp, which kept the audience glued to the proceedings. I purposely maintained a bit of distance because the subject matter was so horrific, and I feared making a scene of my own. I especially enjoyed the hauntingly beautiful songs sung by the cast throughout the play.

Goodness has been brought from Toronto as part of the Chutzpah! Festival, which showcases and celebrates Jewish performing arts of all kinds. There are only five performances left, and very reasonably priced tickets are still available!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chelsea Hotel

Librarians citywide must be noticing an uptick in requests for Leonard Cohen CDs. After seeing Chelsea Hotel at the Firehall Arts Centre on Friday night, I've certainly placed more than a few holds myself! My Cohen knowledge used to be (rather pathetically) limited to the much covered "Hallelujah," and "I Can't Forget" (the latter only because of a Pixies rendition). I'm excited to explore the rest of his oeuvre.

I'm guessing this will sound obvious to many people, but I just didn't realize how deeply sad, sexy and romantic Cohen's songs are. They're all the better when used brilliantly here to form an emotional and stunning-in-every-sense-of-the-word performance piece. The cast is amazingly multi-talented, and the set, costumes and props are gorgeously evocative of the words and music. 

It goes without saying that Chelsea Hotel is not to be missed by Cohen fans, but I'd bet any music lover would enjoy it immensely as we did. The play runs nightly until March 3, with Wednesday and weekend matinees. There are even three more talkback performances where you can share your questions and feedback with the cast. Tickets are reasonably priced, and the Firehall Arts Centre has no bad seats!