A Walk in the Park with Wanda and Kate

March 7 & 8, 2012.  Not quite what the weatherman predicted, but the sun did come out mid-afternoon.  If it reached 8 degrees it didn’t feel as warm as I would have expected.  First stop was coffee at Milano where I met my friend Wanda Chau and her lovely Olde English Bulldog Kate.  A good strong latte was just what I needed to give me some pep.  Wanda is a chef and operates Bah! Baked at Home – you can find her delectable baking at The Baker’s Market, call her up for a special made-to-order batch of my favourite gingersnap cookies and to-die-for mini cupcakes.  She will also come to your home to prepare a meal for your dinner party or she might be giving cooking lessons at the Cook Shop.  We met while I volunteered with Soup Sisters where she graciously donated her time and expertise in the kitchen to oversee soup-making by groups of like-minded charitable souls at either Quince or The Dirty Apron, two of Vancouver’s fine cooking schools.

Next was a walk in Stanley Park which was teaming with squirrels, ducks, Canada Geese and Blue Herons – all to Kate’s delight.  We dropped by The Fish House hoping to see Karen Barnaby, Executive Chef, but she was busy with a photo shoot.  We continued on our way to the corner of Denman and Davie for our own photo shoot by The Laughing Man sculptors – an incredible sight to see and walk among the giant sculptors of, you guessed it, laughing men, all based on the artist’s own likeness.  It’s part of the Biennale but looks like it may become a permanent installation as the City has the opportunity to keep it for the next 20 years.

Our tour of my ‘west of Denman’ neighbourhood took us along Denman Street where I pointed out the House of empanadas, a new little eatery I tried for lunch yesterday, passed another new shop – Ayoub’s dried fruits and nuts which is as beautiful to look at as is delicious to eat, an authentic Iranian shop with silver display cases and crystal chandeliers, unlike anything I have every seen before.  We walked and talked until we ended up by the Safeway grocery store where we parted ways.

It was so good to get out walking in the fresh air, something it seems I’ve forgotten how to do since I’ve been living in small town Tillsonburg where I have access to my Dad’s car.  In Vancouver, it’s second nature for me to walk everywhere – something I will find easier to do when I return to Ontario as I will be moving to a house which is close to the downtown making walking an option again.

Yesterday I got together with my good friend Claudette.  We’ve known each other since our days in Whistler in 1979 when we worked at the old Cheakamus Hotel. Today we’re a couple of 50+ women, but back in Whistler – well we both have stories we like to reminisce about when we were both a little wild and crazy.  That carried on for a while when we both moved to Vancouver and lived in the same apartment building on Pendrell Street.  In those days we liked to go out and party at The Railway Club, concerts at The Commodore and all the other hot spots at that time.  I still remember playing The Talking Heads full blast on the stereo as our preamble to our night on the town.  I’m sure no one who saw us eating dinner at Zefferelli’s last night would ever suspected we were those same young women!

The great thing about Zefferelli’s – of course the fantastic food, is that their plate of pasta is huge and I almost always take half home.  So tonight was Zefferelli’s Part Two – house made pasta with a crab and artichoke cream sauce.

So a couple more things checked off on my list of things I want to do while here in Vancouver.  Claudette and I started off on South Granville at Starbucks for coffee, we strolled along Granville Street popping in and out of the many independent art galleries. The best was the whimsical and colourful art of Glenn Payan at the Ian Tan Gallery which I can best describe as reminding me of the scenery in Dr. Seus’s movie adaptation of The Lorax. Next we transported ourselves by bus over the bridge to get to Robson Street where Milestone’s was our destination for a pre-dinner Bellini.  Too bad I got several brain freezes which migrated such that I also felt it in my chest.  Can’t say I enjoyed that aspect of the drink – maybe I’ll have to ask them to warm it up to room temperature for me.  Is that a sign of getting old?. And last, but certainly not least, was dinner out at Zefferellis which calls itself a sophisticated spaghetti joint.

Zefferelli’s has hardly changed during the last 20 + years that I’ve been coming.  I wouldn’t be sorry to see them get new chairs – there’s something odd about them that you instantly notice when you sit.  The truth of the matter I think it’s the tables that are too short.  But once you get lost into your glass of wine, their in-house baked bread served with their Italian version of salsa, the chairs almost become a moot point.  I mentioned these things to our server and she assured me that there was at least one change – there is now a heater in the women’s washroom.  It always was mighty cold in there.  Another great day and night in Vancouver.

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