On Sunday I went to a picnic on the beach. Well, I was at a picnic on the beach for about 45 minutes (Darn!).
The Vancouver Bloggers Meetup (boy, if that doesn’t sound nerdy, then I guess you are a geek, dear reader), had a picnic at Jericho Beach. I had never been there, and it takes a short bus ride to get through Kitsilano to that area, frequented by sail-boarders and volleyball players. The day was warm, but not uncomfortably so, and I met some new friends (and missed some others by having to leave so early in the day). The plan was for everybody to bring their own food, so I went to Granville Island beforehand and got some bread (Thanks to a neighbor, just discovered Terra Breads — wow!) , some nice country liverwurst, some cheese, fruit and juice. ‘How European!’ remarked Heather, who has a nice blog which she calls ‘Freakishly Prompt’. I was amused an flattered, I think. As I said, I just don’t fit the US cultural mold.
So, why was I only at this lovely picnic for a stingy three-quarters of an hour? Onward to the next weekend commitment; Gamelan Rehearsal! I met Tony, who took me to my first rehearsal with the British Columbia Gamelan, which took place at Simon Fraser University (way up on Burnaby Mountain — quite a distance from the beach!)
During the 3 hour or so rehearsal, I realized that I hadn’t played in a Gamelan in nearly 20 years, and I was just a bit rusty, to say the least. I wasn’t a total disaster, but it will take some time for me to get back my kenong chops. (the last time was at Cambridge University, where I did it mainly as a way of becoming an entertainment at the May Balls, so I could crawl from party to party as the night became morning, as a bearded and silly grad student).
The day ended with a discovery of a bistro just at the eastern edge of Kitsilano, The Smoking Dog — with much better food than the name would suggest. Pam had a delicious minty herbed pasta and vegetable entrÃ©e and I had a bunch of appetizers (Vichysoise, Prawns in 2 superb sauces, and a piping hot and buttery Alsatian Onion and Leek tart that was just about the best I’ve ever had). Now, I have a rule that often a mediocre restaurant can have really great appetizers. The Chef can often splurge a little on ingredients when you know the portion is going to be a small one. However, I’m willing to bet that the other entrÃ©es, much of them bistro classics like my appetizers, are also first-rate. We’ll just have to go back and see. If anyone else has been there, let me know. I was surprised and a little worried to see that on a Sunday evening at about 8:30, the place was nearly empty, despite the fact that it was obviously an established venue, and had live music (a pleasant Brazilian guitarist/singer). Service was friendly and helpful — I got a good suggestion on a glass of white wine to go with these dishes. The decor is well aged and there’s a beautiful (and from what I could tell, well-stocked) semi-circular bar. Food and ambience this good back in Boston would have resulted in a packed place on a Sunday night.
Like the rest of my day, I was happy but wanting more. Probably a good thing at this point in time.