Friday, March 18, 2016

Latab Wine Bar - My New Go To Restaurant

Vancouver's West End, where I am fortunately living, is a great neighbourhood for finding unique restaurants. You want it, it's there - pho, chili, vegan/organic, fish, poultry, meat - as in Must. Have. Meat. - exotic, local products, international, ethnic, wine bars, pastries, the list never ends. Prices range for example from $8.95 for a generous Teriyaki Salmon box with salmon, rice, bean sprouts, salad, california rolls, miso soup and tempura at Osaka Sushi (1361 Burrard- take-out/dine in) to Le Crocodile where it's easy to spend $100 or more (with wine) on an excellent lunch -and well worth every penny (909 Burrard, entrance on Smithe Street - dress codes apply).

I met a friend for lunch at Latab on Helmcken just west of Burrard today. We've heard that their signature roast cauliflower served with wheat berries, feta and herbs is amazing - sadly we arrived too late to order it - sold out. However, if that dish is as good as the bowls of coffee-cured trout with bulgur (I think there was some mango in there, too), mint and other veggies, and the roast squash with smoked tofu, brown rice, kale and radish, then there is obviously a reason the cauliflower was gone by 12:30. The seasonings and sauces were perfectly balanced and complimented each dish - no flavour overwhelmed any other.

The venue itself is small but open and bright, and seating is limited, but hey, it's Vancouver so lunch tables are communal. Kitchen is semi-open, staff smiled a lot, they like doing what they do. Lunch is informal. Coffee and tea served in glasses not cups, european style. Go. Oh! And their evening menu is completely different. Make reservations. More meat. Great wine selection. I'll walk up the hill from my place soon and try out that menu as well.

If you are in downtown area for a conference, the massive annual Sun Fun Run (April 17 this year), or just shopping you really should drop in. It's a quick walk from anywhere! They are right beside the Sheraton Wall Centre.

Don't know about you but it's going to be my new Go To place to take out-of-town visitors and family. Cheers!

Latab is at 983 Helmcken Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2S5   (604)428-7004

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Are We There Yet?" The Eternal Question Solved -

Years ago, husband and I travelled around BC and our little girl frequently came with us. And yes, we often heard the "Are we there yet?" from the back seat. Despite the 'no, not yet'; 'no, soon'; 'no, we've only just got in the car and we have a loooong drive before we get there ' - well, our answers never satisfied her.

There are ways to occupy a small person on a long trip. Counting the cars, counting the cows, counting blue cars, red, yellow; spelling games, reading a book, a snack, a stop to look at something interesting.

When my daughter was just three and half, we moved from Vancouver to a small city in the East Kootenays. My husband drove the moving truck. Mom and daughter flew there a few days later. One of the lasting memories of the flight was the plane flying over the house we had lived in. My daughter was fascinated to see the the horses in the field behind our house, the roads we travelled daily, the supermarket, and the bridge to Stanley Park, too.

For me, that was the Aha! moment.

So I taught her to read maps. Since she was still small, I kept it simple. We would look at books with maps - National Geo magazines and atlases were great for that since she could associate the pictures with the map we looked at. We would make up stories about what we would find at that point on that map. If we were going to travel, we would sit and plot out the route we would take, using road maps and coloured felt pens.

Even before she could read, she could follow the lines on the map and I would show her where on the map the park or town we were passing through was located. As she learned her numbers, she began to associate the mileage numbers on the road map with the distance and time it took to get to the next town.

She also learned directions and symbols - Left, right, straight, winding road ahead; and ordinals. The sun is in our eyes in the morning so we must be facing east. The Rocky Mountains are on the left side of the car - we driving south now. See, we have just eaten dinner, it is six o'clock and the sun is going down behind us; so we are driving east and west is behind us.

At five, she was telling us which way to turn and when.

At six, she was the Official Map Reader.

And the driver in the front seat would ask, "Are we there yet?"

She has kids of her own now. She can look at a map once and get to where she is going without getting lost. She recently thanked me for that.

Not sure how she answers her little ones when they ask "Are we there yet?" but these days, they can always follow along with Google Maps on the iPad or Mom's Blackberry apps. Much easier than trying to refold a map, eh?  :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mushroom Season

Bruno is a great dog friend with whom I walk around the neighbourhood. He checks out every blade of grass, is very particular about where he leaves calling cards and is very patient with me when I stop to admire all the rich diversity of plants and animals that live under the canopy of trees that keep the air clean in the West End.

It is Fall in Vancouver. We have been fogged in for about 10 days and it's gloomy, damp, chilly but the fog blanket helps to promote the growth of some fascinating and very fast growing mushrooms. Here are a few we found over the past month or so within a few blocks of home. I have no idea what types of mushrooms they are but the orange ones with speckles are beautiful, 5-6 inches in diameter. The photo is kind of washed out as the weather was dull; in reality they are a bright deep burnt orange. Not great pics but it's hard to hold a cellphone steady and hang on to a moving doggy at the same time. If you know what types they are, please comment. Enjoy: