Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Transit & Poached Eggs

Have you seen the price of gas lately? It's enough to make you reconsider that 2nd vehicle, or at least the size of the first. I'm pretty pleased with the Subaru we have. Nothing fancy, but it's been really reliable and is pretty decent with the gas.

Still, it seamed to me that many days I simply drove to the showroom in the morning, and drove back at the end of the day. A few Saturdays back I started taking transit to the office. It saves on gas, makes for a more relaxing morning, and gives my wife the vehicle if she needs it to run some chores. I just hop the Skytrain to Commerical Drive and take the B-Line to Cambie.

This past Saturday, being a particularly warm one, I decided to skip the Cambie Ditch fiasco and get of the bus at Main. A nice walk up through the Mount Pleasant streets always relaxes me, and there are some nice breakfast stops on Main Street as well. My original destination was Bert's ... or Slickety Jim's. Both excellent choices. But Jim's was packed that morning, and before I could get to Bert's, I came across the Sunny Spot Cafe.

We've all seen places like the Sunny Spot. They're non-descript diners with Formica tables, hand-written signs scotch-taped to the windows announcing the specials of the day and a pile of newspapers near the front door, none of which are current. The Sunny Spot attracted me for one reason ... the breakfast special. It was called The Pacific Benny: toasted bagel topped with poached eggs, smoked salmon, Hollandaise ... and caviar! I kid you not.

Now, I did not have the Pacific Benny. Caviar is NOT a very Pacific product (not yet anyway) and I support truth in advertising ... and caviar for breakfast without a glass of Cava is just wrong.

I chose the Corned Beef Hash. True, the corned beef was of the pre-formed sandwich variety. But the potatoes and other veggies were freshly cut and cooked that morning ... a truly top drawer hash. And to top it all off, the eggs were poached nice and runny, just the way I likes'em. A few mugs of really god coffee and working Saturday was almost tolerable.

The Sunny Spot Cafe
2543 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V5T 3E5
(604) 872-1816

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Boys Are Back

The great baseball tradition Vancouver has remains unknown to many. This tradition involves much more than local Major Leaguers like Larry Walker, Ryan Dempster, et al and includes teams like The Capilanos and The Mounties. It also includes Nat Bailey (formerly Capilano) Stadium at the foot of Little Mountain. Even if the C's aren't winning, an afternoon on the 3rd base line is pretty spectacular.

Baseball has touched my family too, if only slightly. My grandfather was aparently quite the hurler in his day and was given a tryout with the Mounties in the 50's. In the 80's, when Tripple-A ball came back to Vancouver, I worked a couple summers at the Nat as an usher. So the opportunity to take my sons to a game is pretty special. Last Friday, the C's had their first "nooner" of the season, and I took Matt (just finishing his exams) to enjoy the afternoon.

The new owners have done a great job of sprucing up the stadium. A fresh coat of paint, a new souvenier store and baseball "museum", and a renewed commitment to terrific ballpark food! They are one of the few stadiums in North America to serve Nathans hot dogs, and they also serve up Johnston's Brats. A little 'kraut and a pale ale and all is well with the world.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Community Spirit

One of the things I look for when I chose a place to live is a sense of "neighbourhood" ... a part of town where you can drop by for your daily shopping, some dinner or a cup of coffee ... where you run into at least 2 or 3 people you know ... a place where you feel at home. For us, The Heights is that place. From Beta to Boundary, this stretch of Hastings is home to our butcher, deli, green grocer, coffee shop, and countless restaurants.

The first Saturday of June, the Heights Business Association holds "Hats Off Days," their "thank you" to the patrons of the area and an introduction to the shops and services for new visitors. For us, Hats Off Days means just one thing: FOOD. Once we get through the Show and Shine between Beta and Willingdon, we graze like we haven't eaten for a week. Some food is inspired, some is just this side of PNE food ... but it's all great. Even the dogs get into the spirit of things, their noses mere centimetres from the pavement looking for dropped delicacies.

Here then is a sampling of some of the best of Hats Off Days:

Barbecue Chicken at the Legion Hall. Also home to the only beer garden during HOD. If you missed the chicken that weekend, don't worry. The Legion holds the BBQ's several times throughout the summer. Just drive along Hastings any Saturday morning and you'll know by the smells wafting down the street if dinner is on. The food is great, and at $4.50 for lunch, the price is right too.
A recent addition to the Heights is Burrito Del Rey. While I'm thrilled to have Mexican food in the 'hood, I'm sad that it's replaced an old favorite; la Salza Deli. The HOD offering made up for my loss ... their tamales are top notch.

Even Bocuse d'Or chef Scott Jaeger and his wife Stephanie get into the act. Their contribution this year was a spot prawn ceviche. Rediculously underpriced at $3 and very refreshing .

Pulled pork sandwiches from Burgers Etc.!

Grilled sardines from Fortuna Bakery. Not photographed but equally as memorable was the elderly Portuguese gentleman playing the accordian.
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