It’s the May Long Weekend here in BC and for many that means getting the boat out of hibernation, pitching a tent for the first time this year, lazy days at the beach, and tuning into daytime TV and wondering what happened to Bob Barker. The long weekend is due to Monday being Victoria Day and if you’re wondering what Queen Victoria’s influence has been on our province here are some quick facts:
- The city of Victoria (BC’s capital) is named after Queen Victoria
- The Empress Hotel in Victoria’s harbour is named after the Queen, who was the Empress of India
- Victoria Peak on Vancouver Island was named after her.
- Richard Moody (one of the most important figures in Greater Vancouver’s early history) named the area we now know as New Westminster, “Queensborough” – in honor of Queen Victoria. She then actually suggested it be named New Westminster and because of this name change, it became known as the Royal City and capital of the Crown Colony of British Columbia. [source: VancouverHistory]
- Queen Victoria passed away in 1901 and all of the nations in the Commonwealth mourned her death after her 63 years as monarch (she reigned longer than any other). Her birthday was May 24th 1819 and the holiday we now celebrate is in honor of her birthday.
Now that we know a little bit more about the origins of today’s stat holiday we can get back to our BBQs, movie marathons, and head out to a local outdoor pool that is opening for the season as of this weekend (as long as the weather holds).
To celebrate a successful (yet somewhat soggy) Bike to Work Week I ventured out this morning for a tour of downtown with Dave from Opus. I was going to take photos along the way but I thought it best to pay attention to the routes, the perspective, and the glorious weather at atmosphere that was all around. I know Roland has mastered the art of snapping photos and taking videos of his daily bike commute using small devices but my camera just wouldn’t be able to handle that. However, I did collect tons of information about cycling in Vancouver.
We started off by crossing downtown with ease, using bike lanes and maneuvering the streets of the West End (that are sometimes like a maze for a car). Dave said his favourite spot to scope out the latest bikes is in front of the HSBC building on Georgia Street, where all the couriers hang out. We then headed over to the new convention centre although the bike paths are not yet complete – this meant we had to carry our bikes down several flights of concrete stairs to reach the seawall in Coal Harbour. Over to Stanley Park, Second Beach, English Bay, and up to Burrard Bridge we went as we made the crossing to Kitsilano. Winding down to Vanier Park (where the Childrens’ Festival is taking place) Dave showed me the proposed location for a new BMX and mountain bike park.
While we were in the area, we stopped by Museum of Vancouver to pick up some information about the upcoming Velo-City exhibit (June 4th, 2009 – September 7, 2009) before heading back over the Burrard Bridge.
The entire time I was riding a Cervin Urbanista bike, by Opus. An upright cruiser-style bike that had 8-speeds, hand brakes, fenders, kickstand, and a basket (that made me want to go pick up some groceries on the way home). We’ve been living car-free since 2005 so we’re mostly just walkers and transit takers however getting up on a bike, crossing town in a breeze, and realizing that this city actually is highly accessible for cyclists made me want to go out and pick us up some two-wheelers. We’ve talked about it a lot and would use the bikes for things like getting to work and more importantly, the beach in the summer. I really liked the Cervin because it was comfy, casual (not hard-core mountain bike style) and still totally functional with the multiple gears. I used to BMX in my punk teenage years (and mountain bike before that) but I find this type of bike best suits our needs as it’s not only functional, it’s a step up from being a simple cruiser.
In case you’d like to check out an Opus bike for yourself, you can head to Mighty Riders (Broadway and Ontario & 4th and Burrard), Ace Cycle (West Broadway), Jubilee Cycle (Imperial, Burnaby), Obsession Bikes (Lonsdale, North Vancouver) and Cove Bikes (Main St, North Vancouver).
Remember it is the law to wear your helmet and please be alert when you’re out on the roads. Bike to Work Week is coming to an end but check out the Vancouver Cycling Coalition for upcoming events and information. This is a city of cyclists and I look forward to being a part of it all in the very near future.
Last night we were invited to a special dinner at Irashai in Coal Harbour. It features upscale Japanese cuisine and tapas and is quietly tucked away on West Pender, between Jervis and Broughton. Within walking distance of home, and in close proximity to Stanley Park (or the #19 Stanley Park bus), this gem’s been hidden from us for far too long.
John and I sat down at a table with Heather, Sherman, Joyce, Daniel, Eddie, and Irashai’s hired gun marketing whiz, Danielle to enjoy the following feast from their dinner menu.
We began with specialty cocktails (that start around around $8.5) and had our choice of Yuzu Crush (sake, cointreau, rum, yuzu, melon), Sake Martini (sake, vodka, gin), Litchi Whisky Sour (rye, litchi juice, whisky sour mix, soda water), and the Mango Cosmo (mango juice, malibu, vodka).
The first course was the Asparagus Salad with ikura and egg sauce.
This was followed by Rib Eye Beef Tataki with garlic ponzu jelly and ponzu sauce.
I really enjoyed the Tai (Snapper) Sashimi — and as you can see their presentation is just lovely as well.
This was followed by Hamachi Sashimi with daikon salad and pommery mustard dressing.
The Yam Fries were awesome, deep fried in a super light tempura batter.
Fresh Spot Prawns were up next. “They were swimming just 2 hours ago,” said our server, Christine. She also took the heads once we were done, had them deep fried, and brought them back for us to sample. This dish was a real highlight for the group.
The Ice Wine Tuna that came after was delicious – you could really sense the sweet, supple taste of the ice wine in this dish.
The Pearl Chicken Karaage was made with tiny pebbles of rice cracker, which gave it a great crunch.
The Summer Roll (prawn tempura, masago, and cucumber, topped with tuna crunch avocado, sweet soy and spicy mayo) was served alongside the White Slope Roll (real crab and avocado topped with scallop and spicy sauce). The summer roll was also a huge hit with our group and I tell ya, there’s nothing like a California-style roll made with real crab.
Probably my favourite roll of the evening was the Alaska Crab Leg Roll (Alaska King Crab, mango, masago and lemon mayo, deep fried before serving). I’ve had mango in a roll before but this was so subtle that it didn’t overpower any of the other flavours with its sweetness. I’ve also become a huge fan of the lemon mayo.
We called this the “cheeseburger roll”, the Spicy Beef Volcano (beef, cream cheese and asparagus, sprinkled with cheese and baked, topped with spicy sauce) was indeed topped with melted cheese. It’s taking fusion to a whole other level and I must say, it tastes pretty darn good (though may be a bit too rich for some).
Following the rolls we sampled some Sable Fish with savory Yuan Sauce.
The final dinner menu item of the evening was the Aigamo Duck, which didn’t disappoint.
There were too dessert options including Macha CrÃ¨me BrÃ»lÃ©e as well as Mascarpone Tiramisu. I’m regretting the fact that I didn’t get any photos of the green tea crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e once we cracked into it but it was gobbled up pretty fast.
Irashai is located at 1368 West Pender and they’re open for lunch with bento box combo specials that range from about $8-$16. Given the quality of the food, the taste, the atmosphere, and the presentation, I think it’s a decent value for a nice sit-down meal — this ain’t your average one-roll sushi joint. They also have a few strategically-placed televisions that don’t distract too much unless you’re a hockey fan.
For more information you can follow them on Twitter @Irashai, join their Facebook group, or even add your delicious photos to their Flickr group. They also have a special event coming up near the end of the month so it will definitely be worth paying attention.
You can view the rest of my photos from the evening in my Irashai set on Flickr and Sherman’s got his review up already on his site.
The Victoria Day long weekend is here. That’s right – somewhere between #snowmageddon and #bcvotes2009 spring happened and it’s time to get out and about. Here are some great ways to do just that with the entire family…
Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair
Friday May 15, 2009 – Monday May 18, 2009
Rodeo competitors, saloon concerts, country fair goodness, midway rides, and a whole lot of cowboy hats. The 63rd Cloverdale Rodeo and 120th country fair also host BC’s largest parade and will have a kick off concert with Terry Clark on Thursday night. You can follow @CloverdaleRodeo on Twitter for updates and event news.
Saturday May 16, 2009 (starting at 10:00am)
A mini Star Trek convention, Khan Con, is happening this weekend at the Rio cinemas on Broadway and Commercial. They’ll be showing episodes along with fan-generated content, hosting a costume contest and will screen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (2:00pm) and the latest Star Trek film (4:30pm). More info is available on the Facebook page.
Hyack Festival Week
Saturday May 16, 2009 – Sunday May 24, 2009
This weekend kicks off the time-honored Hyack Festival in New Westminster which will feature an antique fair, Family Days, the anvil battery, rose planting, a street fair, and the ever-popular international parade. Things will kick off opening day this Saturday at Royal City Centre at 11:00am with a ribbon cutting by local dignitaries, Hyack representatives, the Miss New Westminster Ambassador, and Leonard the Royal City Centre Lion. There will also be a fireworks display at the New Westminster Quay that evening.
Spring into Summer
Sunday May 17, 2009 (10:00am – 4:00pm)
It’s the season opening of Burnaby Lake Nature House and you can take a guided walk to learn about birds and plantlife in the area. You can also check the view from the new tower overlooking Burnaby Lake. Park and meet at the Nature House on Piper Avenue off Winston Street, or park at the Avalon Avenue lot and enjoy a half-hour walk to the Nature House [MetroVancouver, Events]
Wilderness at Your Doorstep
Sunday May 17, 2009 (10:00am – 2:00pm)
There will be an open house at Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. “Volunteers, local experts and park enthusiasts will be on hand to share information about Lynn Headwaters cultural and natural history, hiker safety and trail details. Explore the 100-year-old B.C. Mills House that contains lumbering and mining artifacts from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Sign out one of our new family-friendly Discovery Packs to help you explore the headwaters. Check out the delightful Varley Trail, named after one of Canadaâ€™s famous Group of Seven painters.” [MetroVancouver, Events]
Celebrate Vancouver Day
Sunday May 17, 2009 (10:00am – 4:00pm)
Stop by the Vancouver International Children’s Festival over in Vanier Park for Celebrate Vancouver Day and get hyped for 2010. There will be local musicians, dancers, story-tellers and various other activities. You can also make your own “celebration torch” then participate in the parade at 2:00pm.
Should you have anything you’d like to add or promote, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.
Update: Some great ideas for day or afternoon trips can also be found in my Park Series (which contains contributed articles) and my Day Trip series.
Update: There are some great events listed in the comments section and here’s one more: Learn to paddle Sunday beside Science World 1:00-4:00 pm visit DragonBoatBC.ca for more information. There’s also the Seattle Cheese Festival if you’d like to head south for some fun.