Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

These photos are from our visit to the Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden in the Chinatown section of Vancouver.  The garden is small but beautifully designed and maintained.  It was originally built by Chinese workers using traditional materials and methods - for instance, no nails were used in the wood joinery.

"The kiss of the sun for pardon, 
The song of the birds for mirth, 
One is nearer God's Heart in a garden 
Than anywhere else on earth."
~Dorothy Frances Gurney

Friday, August 30, 2013

Visiting Vancouver

For the last two weeks I've been on vacation with my sister Sue, and largely at the mercy of  a shipboard satellite connection that could barely handle simple email, let alone photo uploads.  Here, then, better late than never, is the start of our trip - Vancouver.  We flew in two days before our Alaskan cruise started so that we could spend some time enjoying the "San Francisco of Canada."  The weather was overcast but we only felt a few drops of rain, and we loved the city's laid-back but sophisticated air.  We stayed at the 100% non-smoking Moda Hotel at the edge of the trendy Yaletown district, where we browsed fun little shops and got a start on overeating at Cibo, Uva Wine Bar, the Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar, Joe Fortes, and Boulangerie La Parisienne.  (We found most of these places, by the way, in Secret Vancouver, a great guidebook by Alison Applebe which I was able to borrow from our library as an ebook and take along - with several others - on my Nook.)

Here are some of the miscellaneous photos I took while in Vancouver:

Vancouver Art Gallery

Lunch at the GalleryUninvited lunch guest

Pre-graffittied mailboxes

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra School of Music Inside Canada Place

"Vancouver is beautiful, to begin with. The summer there is unbelievable. The people are so nice. People actually obey traffic signals, it's unreal." ~Erin Daniels

Friday, August 16, 2013

Best. Breakfast. EVER.

The last couple of weeks have been really full.  I had to take my father in to the Eye Institute for cataract surgery (twice).  I needed to buy stuff - like a travel toothbrush and a new (larger) belt - for our cruise to Alaska.  I had to get most of the month's work for the church done (including the layout and text for the monthly newsletter) in the two weeks before leaving so I wouldn't have to email it all in.  At last, however, it's all finished and we are in Vancouver, taking a look around before the cruise sets sail on Sunday.

We are staying at the Moda Hotel, which is located in the heart of Vancouver and within easy walking distance of many attractions plus mass transit.  One of the attractions, right off the lobby, is Cibo Trattoria, where we ate breakfast today.  The restaurant is small but welcoming, with a mix of vintage charm and modern artwork.  I truly think my food was the best breakfast I've ever had.

I had their ethical bean "bold" coffee and the item described as follows on the menu:
crispy polenta with wild oregano, soft scrambled eggs, pancetta, pecorino, pepper

The polenta came in perfectly fried little pyramids, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the oregano (something I wouldn't have put into polenta) gave it an earthy, exotic flavor.  It was excellent by itself, but when eaten in the same forkful as the crisp pancetta and a few flakes of the cheese - astounding.  I wonder if they'd give me the recipe?

My sister had the frittata of the day, which featured heirloom tomatoes and parmesan cheese and was also seriously yummy, and both our plates looked as good as they tasted. Fortunately the portions were moderate, so we may have been able to walk it all off today.  At least I HOPE two museums and a tour of the downtown area were enough.

Tomorrow I'm thinking of returning for the blueberry turnover.  Or maybe a "bio-dynamic" egg.  Or both.  And heck, it's the weekend - why not a mimosa or bloody Mary?

Quality food like this tempts me in a way the all-you-can-eat cruise buffets never will.  If I'm going to gain weight on my vacation, I want to end up with high-class fat.

"Every dish centers on the use of fresh, natural, and unique ingredients from the finest local and Italian suppliers, and organic farm producers. Most importantly, Cibo’s dishes possess a subtle myriad of pleasing flavors and textures, with a simple combination of color and plating, that yield the ultimate in rustic, Italian cuisine." ~from the Cibo website