Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bivalve Blessings

This past weekend my wife was away in Las Vegas to celebrate her sister's birthday. She is violently allergic to bivalves (oysters, mussels, clams, etc.), so when we're apart for any length of time (which is rare) I make haste to the closest source of oysters, mussels or clams.  And so, on Saturday night, my sons and a group of friends sat down at Kits Daily Kitchen and indulged in four dozen "Little Wing" oysters.

The oysters were as perfect as could be. Briney, sweet and rich ... washed down with a nice Pouilly-Fuisse they were worth the wait. Conversations flowed, more food was ordered (Pork cheeks, King Crab belly, stuffed Zucchini flowers), more friends joined the table throughout the evening. The restaurant emptied out around us. Dessert arrived, we caught up on each other's lives, and then it was time to go.

But somewhere between the slurps of a great oysters, lively conversation with my sons and friends, and dessert, I began to count all the blessing in my life that had combined to make the evening.

I am blessed with the love of my life.  My wife is truly my better half.  She knows me better than anyone.  She comforts me when I'm down, and kicks my ass when I feel sorry for myself.  I am a better man for just knowing her.  Her alergy is no burden on me ... in fact without it, the oyster-fest wouldn't have happened.

I am blessed with a family.  My sons are becoming fine young men.  And even though they are at the age when they are more interested in spending time with their friends than with their old man, we always find time for each other. 

I am blessed with friends.  I believe the saying "You don't get to pick your family, but you pick your friends" is only partially correct.  I believe your friends pick you.  The people that have included me in their lives add dimension to mine.  They challenge and inspire me.

For some this was just another meal. For others, it was their first time enjoying raw oysters. For me, it was a chance to revisit with some old friends and be thankful for all that I have ...

... and the oysters.  I was definitely blessed with the oysters.

Kitsilano Daily Kitchen
1809 W 1st Ave
Vancouver, BC

Monday, September 20, 2010

NIM: Just Hangin' Around

Heating is something I haven't discussed a lot on useful spaces.  It's not that it's not important ... ask anyone who walks into a cold bathroom every morning at 6am ... it's just that it's not really all that design oriented.  In North America the majority of homes have some form of central heating which is primarily hidden from view.  Localized heating (electric or water) really gives us the only opportunity to bring any design into the equation. Sadly, most heaters are utilitarian at best, and downright ugly at their worst.

I am completely unsurprised to find that the Italians have once again come up with an elegant solution to this problem.  Ad-Hoc design features a wide variety of electric space heaters to work with practically any decor.  My favorite of the group is the Tiki (pictured left) which is suspended from the ceiling.  Available in "satin" or "white", the Tiki is rated at 750W.

Would you even guess that it was a heater?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Street Eats - Re-Up BBQ

It's been a long time coming, but Vancouver finally has a street food scene. And by street food, I'm not talking about hot dogs, or those roasted chestnuts you see around Christmas.  No, the streets of the city are now home to a wide variety of food, including burritos, fish balls, crepes and pizza.  It was actually the visit to Roaming Dragon at the PNE that inspired me to visit some of the new additions to our culinary scene.  If what I ate there is any indication of what Vancouver is about to offer, then I may not have to travel to Portland or Seattle to get my street food fix.  One can only hope.

My first visit was Re-Up Barbeque.  As a barbeque practitioner myself, I'm always thrilled, and then sceptical when I hear about someone offering pulled-pork sandwiches.  For such a simple dish, pulled pork, at least in our part of the world, is done poorly more often than well.  Approaching Re-Up's tiny cart at the corner of Hornby and Georgia it would be easy to lower you expectations, and that would be a mistake.
From within their tiny stainless steel box, Re-Up BBQ serves up pulled pork sandwiches for only $6.  The pulled pork and a couple of home-made sodas ($2 each) make up their total menu.  But what they lack in variety they more than make up for in quality and flavour. 

The sandwiches are generous in size, and are made the way I like them:  with a large dollop of coleslaw on the top and plenty of sauce.  The sodas were fine.  Not great, but for $2 I'd rather have them than an over-priced bottle of water.  An amazing value for a top quality lunch.  In addition, you have the added benefit of being able to grab your lunch, and take a seat on the steps of the Art Gallery overlooking the fountain.  For a brief moment, Vancouver feels like a grown-up city.

700 Hornby St
Vancouver, BC

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gallery - Extremely Entertaining

This gallery also appears on the Paradigm Kitchen Design Blog, but since I designed it, I wanted to share it here as well.

Get the flash player here:

This doors in this kitchen are wrapped laminate, which is a very cost-effective way to achieve a very modern aesthetic. The countertops are Caesarstone Lagos Blue, done with a 6cm edge rather than the standard 3cm thickness.

This kitchen is designed for entertaining.  The cooktop situated on a large island allows the cook to interact with guests.  That's a steam oven below it and the standard ovens are behind the island in their own "baking" area .  The large pro-style fridge keeps all the food near the main cooking area, and a nearby wine-fridge keeps thing conveniently near the dining and living room.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Too Good For The PNE?

After last weeks culinary foray into the annual PNE gut-busting festival, I thought I'd share with you a discovery that had me thrilled and dismayed at the same time.

Along the bottleneck that connects the West end of the fair with the Playland end, you would have found red and black catering van.  The venture is called Roaming Dragon, and it was without a doubt the best food I've ever had at the fair. 

Roaming Dragon is the fortunate result of Vancouver's decision to join the 21st century and allow vendors to offer street food just as cities around the world have been doing for eons.  While Vancouver's offerings are slim at the moment (and no I don't count hot dog carts other than Japa-dog) my visit to Roaming Dragon gives me hope for the future.

Pork-belly sliders.  Served on a bao-style bun, these are garnished with some marinated veggies.  Perfect little bite-sized hits of porcine goodness.

Korean short rib tacos.  Could have used a hit of spice ... kimchee or sriracha perhaps ... but also excellent.

So while I am thrilled to see Roaming Dragon will be a permanent fixture on our streets, it makes me a little sad that all the food at the PNE couldn't be this creative.  Of course there's always going to room for Jimmy's Lunch and Deep-Fried Butter, it would be great to have some more options of a higher calibre.  Regrettably, I fear that such food is just too good for the fair.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Leather - Not Just for Jackets Anymore

Leather as a wall or floor covering is nothing new. Do a quick internet search and you'll find hundreds of examples.  Not only has it been used for ages, it has been on the current palate of interior designers as a "hot trend" for the last few years.  So why bring them up now?  Well a couple products came across my desk this week that put a new twist on the standard leather tile look. 

The first comes from Cuir au Carré of France.  Their leather series brings these tile into a new dimension, adding depth, and details like stitching.  They offer a wide range of leather and imitation leather panels made in their Parisian workshop. Available in several sizes and numerous colours, the leather and mock leather tiles, with refined finishing touches, can be fitted to a variety of applications (doors, headboards, furniture, walls, floors etc.) to highlight any design.

Looking for something more suitable to a wetter environment, like your bathroom?  Alfa Ceramica's Pelle series uses porcelain to recreate the look of the real thing.  A full line of field tiles and listello inserts are available in a wide range of colours/

As is the case with most materials from Europe, getting product in North America is dependent on a local distributor.  Now, if someone wanted to fly me to Paris for the Cuir au Carré I'd be happy to help out.
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