A Bunch of Evening Events and A Hill of Beans

Mon­day: STC
I’ve already been to the offices of ActiveS­tate half a dozen times. The Ruby on Rails, Van­Tech and oth­er groups meet there, and it’s a great loca­tion — cen­tral­ly sit­u­at­ed on Granville street, a block away from the Sky­train sta­tion down­town. It takes all of 15 or 20 min­utes to get there, depend­ing on how long I wait for the bus. So tonight, Pam and I both attend­ed a meet­ing there, this time a joint one for STC (which Pam is already very active in) and a group I had not heard of yet, the HTCE (Hi-Tech Com­mu­ni­ca­tors’ Exchange). The meet­ing top­ic was ‘Online Influ­ence: What Blogs Mean to Your Busi­ness’ and was giv­en by Susan­nah Gard­ner of Hop­stu­dios . She gave a great talk about Blog­ging for Busi­ness and how to use this new com­mu­ni­ca­tions medi­um as a busi­ness for mar­ket­ing, cus­tomer engage­ment and oth­er stuff that blogs do so well, if you are will­ing to give up a lit­tle con­trol. Most mem­o­rable quote of the evening from Susie (as I think she’s known around here): “I was in Sin­ga­pore, and they asked me what gov­ern­ment min­istry was in charge of blog­ging.” Yikes.

Wednes­day: The Van­cou­ver Art Gallery

We took advan­tage of a free entry to the Picas­so exhib­it at the VAG (sor­ry if this page shows as a big blank. It seems to be bro­ken at the time I’m writ­ing this.) as part of an evening spon­sored by sev­er­al Trav­el Agen­cies, who showed up with moun­tains of trav­el brochure. It was jammed with peo­ple, who lined up for food and wine (bad BC Vine­gary stuff, I’m afraid). We had a brief taste and then went straight to the exhib­it.

The exhib­it was pret­ty good — most­ly draw­ings, par­tic­u­lar­ly from the 20s and 30s. It’s always amaz­ing how large Picasso’s out­put was; he must have cranked out these draw­ings at 3 or 4 a day, and some are quite intri­cate. Some nice stud­ies for Guer­ni­ca, as well as many pieces that remind­ed us of work we’d seen at the Picas­so Muse­um in Antibes this sum­mer.

We did stay for one pre­sen­ta­tion, an old­er cou­ple where were adver­tis­ing their Culi­nary ‘tour’ of Spain. They had an old mill in Mala­ga that was con­vert­ed for tourists to come stay and learn Span­ish cui­sine as well as paint­ing. After a few min­utes, it was pret­ty clear that this was not for us. The Eng­lish cou­ple were very sweet but also very flakey. They claimed that some­one had made off with their pre­sen­ta­tion DVD, so they showed anoth­er, which was a slideshow of the inn. They bragged about how old the place was. I’m sure that it was prob­a­bly a very pret­ty place, but supreme­ly uncom­fort­able, and the Eng­lish like both of those things, par­tic­u­lar­ly when they occur simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. Any­way, we know for sure what culi­nary tour we won’t be tak­ing.

Tonight: The Van­cou­ver Blog­ger Meet­up
I sus­pect that this will be the last time this takes place at Steam­works. It’s cen­tral­ly locat­ed, but kind of expen­sive, and you real­ly are part­ly pay­ing for the pret­ty view (the Bur­rard Inlet, with ships, Seabus, Sea­planes land­ing and tak­ing off, etc.), which we nev­er see because we’re there at night and down­stairs in the base­ment of the brew­ery. It’s all also kind of noisy. Even Heather and Jamie (film­go­er­juan) say they’re not com­ing because nei­ther of them like the venue. So, the next venue will require a vote, or at least an agree­ment by some of the peo­ple. Hope­ful­ly, things will revive after the move, as these mee­tups seem to be get­ting a lit­tle less atten­dance each month.

The Cas­soulet is Here!
About a month ago we signed up with the sausage ven­dor at Granville Pub­lic Mar­ket for some Cas­soulet as part of their annu­al fes­ti­val of this dish. As Wikipedia says:

Cas­soulet is a rich slow-cooked bean stew or casse­role orig­i­nat­ing in the south­west of France, con­tain­ing meat (typ­i­cal­ly pork sausages, mut­ton, or goose), and white hari­cot beans.
Numer­ous region­al vari­a­tions exist, the most notable being from Castel­naudary, the self-pro­claimed “Cap­i­tal of Cas­soulet,” where the casse­role con­tains only beans, pork and the local sausages, from Car­cas­sonne, or from Toulouse, where, if it is not cooked with spicy Toulouse sausage and con­fit d’oie, it is not a tra­di­tion­al cas­soulet Toulou­sain.

All the recipes I’ve seen for Cas­soulet seem to be mul­ti-day affairs involv­ing lots of dif­fi­cult-to-get ingre­di­ents if you’re not on a French Farm and have a wood-fired oven. I remem­ber hav­ing it when I vis­it­ed my Grand­par­ents and I dragged them (my Grand­fa­ther in par­tic­u­lar) to a French Restau­rant in Philadel­phia called The Gar­den (which appears to be long-gone, sad­ly). I dis­tinct­ly remem­ber the meaty and rich-tast­ing bean casse­role and have not had it many times in the inter­ven­ing years. The dif­fi­cul­ty of prepar­ing the dish, along with the rise of lighter French fare has seen a decline of Cas­soulet on menus out­side of Langue­doc.
So we picked up our Cas­soulet today (we were num­ber 13 on the list, bien sur), along with some Duck con­fit and Duck sausage that goes on top of it when serv­ing. For­tu­nate­ly, my par­ents brought some red wine and good French bread is near­by, so we are all set for a great high-class bean feast.