A Sunny Saturday and Chilly Evening

Sun­rise, 8:02 AM, Sun­set 4:15 PM and count­ing (only 4 days until the Win­ter Sol­stice, the short­est day of the year).

I was a lit­tle tired from the week, which showed just how out of shape I am when it comes to work­ing. Only 4 of the 5 days and here I am wait­ing for the first week­end! Thank good­ness, when the week­end count­ed, the sun came out. And boy, was a it a beau­ti­ful day today. More about that in a bit. First, about last night: My com­pa­ny had a Christ­mas par­ty. I only found out about it the morn­ing before, and for­tu­nate­ly was dressed well enough to go there direct­ly from work. I did­n’t know that spous­es were allowed or I would have had Pam come as well, but only found out too late. I hope there will be a next time, and I’ll have a bit more notice (like a cou­ple months rather than hours!)

In Cana­da, work­ers (and boss­es) take their hol­i­day par­ties much more seri­ous­ly than they do in the US. In the States, I remem­ber some half-heart­ed attempts at a lit­tle par­ty, often for employ­ees only or a pot-luck for employ­ees, spous­es and chil­dren. This is after the cut­backs from the dot-com crash of the 90’s, and I think we just got used to that lev­el of aus­ter­i­ty. In Cana­da, I think it’s seen as an impor­tant perk of employ­ment. Even for the tiny com­pa­ny I’ve just joined, there was a huge spread at a local hotel, with prime rib, York­shire pud­ding, salmon, door prizes, games, and wine or beer (cash bar for oth­er drinks). I actu­al­ly won one of the (sev­er­al) draw­ings, and the prize was a gift cer­tifi­cate at the excel­lent Cana­di­an hi-tech chain, Futureshop. I was very impressed (and per­haps a lit­tle embar­rassed. After all, I had only been with the com­pa­ny for 3 days!)

Any­way, that brings us to today. This morn­ing, to be exact. Pam and I took a short trip to Main Street, which is indeed one of the main streets into Van­cou­ver, although it’s a good 2 kilo­me­ters or so from us (we took a Broad­way bus there to make the trip a bit faster).

Among our stops along Main, we went to the KEA food store, a very ‘crunchy’ organ­ic gro­cery, which has real­ly good raw peanuts in the shells (we roast them in the oven and the house smells won­der­ful from the peanut‑y aro­ma). We also vis­it­ed Urban Source, a fan­tas­tic resource for the cre­ative per­son hope­ful­ly lurk­ing in all of us. Urban Source is a sort of scav­enger of indus­tri­al waste — not the scary, poi­so­nous kind, but the more banal, and poten­tial­ly use­ful junk that comes from light man­u­fac­tur­ing and the like. Look­ing for some small dolls heads, card­board cones and cylin­ders, sil­ver mylar, glit­ter, foam­core scraps? This is the place for you! You don’t have to be even that handy or skilled. Some­times projects can be found-art from the com­bi­na­tions of the above items. On high shelves above much of the stuff (and there’s real­ly no bet­ter word to describe what they sell), are toy robots, the skele­ton of a wick­er bas­ket out­fit­ted so that it looks like an enor­mous house­fly, and oth­er assem­blages that look down like in a dare to all below: ‘See how cool I am? Bet you can’t make some­thing this neat!’ That may be true, but the oth­er cus­tomers (and there are tons of them) and I accept the chal­lenge. Pam did, too. Noth­ing involv­ing pow­er tools or weld­ing. A cou­ple of clay tiles and sil­ver mylar will do just fine, thank you.

After that we met Oana and Matt for a walk and even­tu­al­ly din­ner at the very unusu­al and fun restau­rant the Liliget Feast House, on Davie Street (not too far from the hotel where Pam and I had stayed a few times before mov­ing into our cur­rent place). We had­n’t planned going there, but both Matt and Pam had heard about this restau­rant that spe­cial­izes in First Nation cui­sine and had want­ed to try it out (and I was cer­tain­ly inter­est­ed as well). I had a very tasty Alder-Grilled Veni­son Chops mar­i­nat­ed in Maple Syrup and Vine­gar and served with Mashed Rus­set Pota­toes, Sea­son­al Veg­eta­bles, and Wild Blue­ber­ry Sauce (as the menu describes it). Pam had their Veg­e­tar­i­an Meal, which includ­ed Toast­ed Sea­weed (Kelp) on a Wild Rice Med­ley, Sweet Pota­to Pie, Spinach Quiche Pie, and the same veg­eta­bles. She liked it a lot, and I sam­pled some of those pies, which were real­ly charm­ing sin­gle-serv­ing size tarts. Oana and Matt went for the Lileget Feast Plat­ter for two, which includ­ed Alder Grilled Wild Salmon, Hal­ibut, Mus­sels, Veni­son Strips, Buf­fa­lo Smoky, Duck Breast, Sweet Pota­toes with Hazel­nuts, Liliget Wild Rice Med­ley, Veg­eta­bles and Wild Blue­ber­ry & Dill Sauces. It arrived in a very impres­sive ‘boat’ with First Nation dec­o­ra­tions at each end. I’m very intrigued by this kind of cook­ing and hope to get some recipes for these dish­es or ones sim­i­lar to them. In some ways, it was very much like the kind of cui­sine I used to love in Ver­mont, where you could real­ly enjoy and appre­ci­ate the spe­cial­ness of the local pro­duce. I’m not a mac­ro­bi­ot­ic zealot, but I can cer­tain­ly see the advan­tage in mak­ing the most of your local game, fish, fruits and veg­eta­bles, espe­cial­ly if there are lots of them year-round, as they are here in the BC area.

I should add that desert was par­tic­u­lar­ly mem­o­rable. It was a sort of syl­labub (whipped cream, no wine or sher­ry though) made with Sopalali berries. What do they taste like? Actu­al­ly quite bit­ter, like Angos­tu­ra Bit­ters, or tamarind. It was a sur­pris­ing­ly com­plex tast­ing fin­ish, and def­i­nite­ly not some­thing for the kids.

After din­ner we all took a chilly walk by the north shore of False Creek toward the Bur­rard Bridge. By chilly, I mean right at about freez­ing. The night was lit by a huge tree by the beach with Christ­mas lights all over it, as well as the the lights of the city and ships off­shore. I think Matt got some good night photos.

Update: Mat­t’s pic­tures came out pret­ty well, espe­cial­ly of the food at the restaurant.

Also, a very dra­mat­ic, if sub­tle pict of 3 of us in front of that tree: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mussels/74829338/in/photostream/