Monday, September 26, 2011

Specials on a Sunny Saturday

This past weekend I volunteered again for the Vancouver Special (House) Tour. We were blessed with what was surely one of the last really nice days for a while. I hate to be pessimistic, but…
The tour houses were all in East Van, and though I didn’t have time to visit the rest, I definitely enjoyed having a look inside my appointed house at 608 Union. It's actually one of the Joe Wai Specials that were designed particularly for Strathcona in the aftermath of the (mercifully) failed freeway proposal. 
I recognized one of the other volunteers’ names, but it was only when we were stationed together at the front door that I pried a bit and found out why. For about an hour, I was happily ensconced in conversation with Michael Kluckner, longtime Vancouverite (aside from sojourns in Langley and Australia), author, artist, and local historian. What a treat for both the librarian and Vancouver lover in me! We chatted about our mutual love of East Van, and he mentioned that Grandview now is what Kits was back in the day. Very interesting stuff.
I was eventually (and reluctantly) reassigned to a post in the master bedroom, where my greatest entertainment was when people asked if this was my house, and I got to sigh “alas, no.”  But anyway, the tour is fascinating, both for those with a genuine interest in vernacular architecture, and those whose tastes run to simply looking through other people’s houses! Check out the Vancouver Heritage Foundation for all kinds of information and tours.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Community Thrift and Vintage

A couple weeks ago, my very stylish sister was visiting from Calgary. She wanted to go shopping, so rather than hit mall standbys on Robson at a seven per cent premium, I suggested we poke around in Gastown. Of course, with the gentrification, there are designer shops aplenty, and even more stores that are just slightly too rich for our blood. Imagine our delight when we stumbled upon Community Thrift and Vintage at 41 West Cordova. The store, which opened several months ago, has been beautifully renovated in a cozy Gastown style.

In high school  I wore almost exclusively vintage and I still pepper my wardrobe with secondhand bargains on a regular basis. It is exceedingly rare to find this kind of handpicked selection at these perfectly reasonable prices. Better yet, the store is a social enterprise which offers jobs to “women with barriers to traditional employment…and…[donates] all profits back into the community through key programs of the PHS Community Services Society.”

From now on, when I feel that familiar longing for something new (to me) to wear, Community will be my first stop. Check the website for how to donate your used clothing in good wearable condition.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pizzeria Farina

After spending almost a whole workweek daydreaming about their Miele pizza (apples, honey, ricotta, oh my!), I cannot overstate how disappointed I was to arrive at Pizzeria Farina last night to find it removed from the menu, for lack of interest. What is wrong with you Vancouver? How could you let something as surely delicious as this pizza must have been slip through your fingers? The cool and friendly staff (owners?) were sympathetic, but what could they do? The people had spoken. I can only hope they bring it back as a daily pizza speciale sometime that I happen to be there.

Calmed somewhat by the loaf of bread A bought (to make me happy; she knows me so well), I settled in to wait for my funghi pizza. As far as consolation prizes go, this one was a winner. The arugula was fresh, abundant, and perfectly complemented the delicate flavours of the mushrooms and onions. E proclaimed her finocchiona the best pizza she's ever had in Vancouver. And the crust! So good that I took A's crust scraps home with me for later. You just don't throw away crust that good.

I was charmed by the spare red and white decor, and special touches like side by side taps offering free still and sparkling water, butcher paper for those leftovers not quite warranting a box, and the mostly communal dining set up. The very cute pizza chef certainly did not go amiss. The only thing lacking is the vino, but a liquor license is in the works!

Pizzeria Farina on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Though I find its name singularly off-putting, I nonetheless seized the opportunity to finally try L'Abattoir when my mom and sister were in town recently. A joined us so we were Slaughterhouse Four. (Sorry, couldn't resist). A recent issue of Vancouver magazine rightly lauded the "attentive but unobtrusive" nature of L'Abattoir's service, and of course it has topped many a list of bests.

The menu is carefully curated with rather limited options but everything we tried was, without fail, beautiful, creative, and delicious. Of the cold dishes to start, we sampled all but the vegetable salad. For mains, our table was split down the middle with two of us going for the superb halibut, and the others the delectable steak Diane. Dessert was a round of warm chocolate tarts with one insanely yummy apple and olive oil cake thrown in for good measure.

L'Abattoir is at a higher price point than neighbouring Cork & Fin, and thus will be added to my repertoire of special occasion restaurants rather than random dinner out places. If you have something to celebrate and/or some spare cash to burn, you could do a hell of a lot worse than L'Abattoir. Enjoy!

L'Abattoir on Urbanspoon