Monday, April 28, 2008

Figmint of my Imagination

If asked, I will deny that I work in retail. As a kitchen designer, I'm in more of a service industry. But we have a showroom, and the showroom needs to be staffed, even on Saturday. I started a tradition about 5 years ago. Whenever I work Saturdays, I treat myself to a big breakfast so I don't have to leave the showroom for lunch. This is a story of one such Saturday ...

My story actually begins on Friday. The folk at Figmint Lounge & Restaurant in the Plaza 500 Hotel were launching their new cocktail menu and I managed to snag an invite. In addition to relaxing after a tough week of work, this was a great opportunity to support one of the businesses in our neighborhood. The Canada Line construction has been dragging on for 2 years now. I think we all needed a drink!

My choices for the evening were the Rosso, Sherry and Pinot Noir, while J opted for Brut & Prosecco. What did I like about the new menu? It would have been really easy to simply adopt the same classics that many other bars have on the menu. Instead, these are some fresh takes on the classics. General Manager Alain Canuel has incorporated fresh ingredients and his excellent wine programme into a really unique collection of drinks. Our favorites? The Rosso and the Brut. Gotta go find us some ginger liqueur!

I don't get to take Skytrain all that often, so when I work weekends I try to do the "green" thing. It also gives me a chance to explore some of the neighbourhoods on my way into the office.  There are some real gems in Vancouver.  At Commercial Station I was pleased to discover the new Ethical Bean kiosk. "Green" thing #2! I'm really surprised that they've been able to get right into the station and that nobody else has thought of it already. They're located right at the top of the stairs from the Millenium Line side. If they're not rolling in dough within a month there's something seriously wrong ... and its not going to be their coffee.

Onto breakfast ... Recently I've discovered the Hash at Figmint and having just been there the night before it seemed a good choice. The Hash: Corned Beef, Chorizo Sausage and Potato Hash with Toasted Brioche, Hollandaise and Poached Eggs. Add yet another coffee (49th Parallel Roasters) and the Globe & Mail and Saturdays at the office are almost bearable.

UPDATE (February 2011):  Regretably, Figmint is now closed.  The Plaza 500 has been taken over by the Indigo Hotel Group and will be converted into a boutique hotel.  No word on a new restaurant, but one is almost guaranteed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oogie Oogie Oogie

Further to a post I made back in February about sporting snacks, I felt a research trip was in order to Swanguard Stadium. The Whitecaps were opening the season against the Montreal Impact (cheats! losers! cat beaters!) and the weather had briefly decided to cooperate. Janine and I hopped on transit and let the #28 weave its way through Burnaby to Central Park.

The weather had brought out the fair-weather fans (I include myself among them) and the grounds around the stadium were packed! It was a nice sight, and I hope those who oppose the Waterfront Stadium took note. Swanguard, as lovely a setting as it is, is woefully inadequate as a serious soccer venue. Let's get this damn thing built!

We'd spent the day doing yardwork, and had deliberately gone light on lunch so as to save room for some serious noshing. Prospects looked good as we smelled the smokey wisps of open air grilling. Burgers, dogs ... and a monstrous line-up. Now, I'm all for a good burger, but waiting for 20 minutes is another issue. We pushed on to see what else we could find.

I'm sorry to say that aside from a couple concesion stands under the seats, there's slim pickins at Swanguard. However, we did find a pretty awesome gyro stand. Chicken, beef, lamb and falafel were on the menu, and the lineup was considerably shorter. 2 lamb were procured (extremely tender and tastey!) and we set off for beverages.

Here, I am happy to say, Swanguard has done a pretty good job. One word won me over: Guinness! They had the standard Molson, Labatts, OK Springs, Granville Island ... but Guinness made me smile the smile of a footy fan with nothing but a weekend derby and a flat of cans to keep him company.

Oh, and we beat the Impact 1-0. Eddy Subrango was the goal scorer.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Non-Smokers Beware

First, my apologies for being negligent in my blogging duties. Life got busy ... yada yada yada ... and today I found some time.

Weather here on the west coast has been nothing short of bizarre. Last weekend we were treated to almost summer-like temperatures. This weekend we had snow/hail/sleet on Friday and sunshine on Saturday. If this is Spring, I'm not a fan.

The net effect of all this has been a rush to do all the necessary yard work to prepare for the BBQ season ... and by BBQ I mean smoking ... and by smoking I don't mean inhaling. I am the proud owner of two Weber Smokey Mountain smokers (aka Bullets) and one Weber One-Touch 22" Gold grill (aka the Kettle). There's also the Jackson Grill on the back patio, but it works on natural gas and as such must NOT be included in the first group.

Charcoal grilling and smoking became a passion of mine about 5 years ago. The BC BBQ Championships at the Eat! show was a revelation, as was Rockin Ronnie's presentation on the joys of pork butt. I had grilled before, but low-and-slow smoking was something completely different and infinitely better. I wanted more, so I bought my first bullet, a couple books, and began experimenting.

This is the first incarnation of the BBQ Pit at our house. The major issue for smokers around here is weather. So the primary function of any structure around he Bullets has to be protection from the weather. The tent served its purpose nicely, but as it aged, and the winter storm season whipped through the back yards of Metro Vancouver, it proved quite inadequate.

Enter the Grill-Zebo. Home Depot may be the Evil Empire in the world of home improvement, but occaisionally they bring in some really cool items. When I first saw the Grill-Zebo I immediately started planning the landscaping to support it. We ordered lanscaping ties, lanscaping fabric, dirt, pavers ... and my son and I spent the sunny weekend digging, cutting, shovelling and levelling.

This is the end result.  No bad for an amateur if I do say so myself.

Stay tuned. Smoking season has started.
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