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.