Christmas Queen 3 – The Bachellorette Edition

Christmas Queen, the malevolent mistress of mean makes her return to the Vancouver Theatresports League (VTSL) stage at the Improv Centre for another year.  In her second sequel, the Christmas Queen, continues to wreak havoc on the spirit of Christmas, this time playing with the hearts of a suite of seasonal suitors.

Who will survive the Rose Ceremony as the Bachelorette seeks to find love, or is she really in it for love?  Will it be Santa, Frosty, Elf on a Shelf, Jack Frost , The Grinch or one of her other celebrity suitors that makes the grade? Host Buttons the Elf guides us through the Cinéma vérité playing out before our eyes.  As with all VTSL shows the audience plays a big part of the performance. With panto-style cheers and boos, the audience input forms the settings and activities of the players.

The revolving cast of brilliant players, create a new show every night as Christmas Queen 3 : The Bachelorette Edition joins the VTSL repertoire until December 23.  Get your tickets now and have a holly, jolly, hysterical Holiday season!

The Day Before Christmas at The Arts Club

Love it or loathe it…no matter what you do (or what you celebrate) the Holidays are going to happen whether you like it or not. The Day Before Christmas, playing at the Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, opens the door on a festival season that many will be able to relate to.

Alex, played by Jennifer Clement, is a multi-tasking caterer/event organizer by trade, who is determined to hold the perfect family Christmas each and every year.  Narrating the story by breaking the 4th wall, Alex welcomes the audience into her impeccable home (creatively dressed by set designer Drew Facey) on the day before Christmas and goes back in time to show us how they got to the this point.

With her children growing up and business booming, family and personal pressures start to take their toll causing cracks to start to show in Alex’s perfectly crafted facade. The tight cast portray a realistic family dynamic with gruff and lovable father Alan (Andrew Wheeler) balancing life between his wife and children; self-absorbed 17 year old Brodie (Julie Leung)  and adolescent Max (Daren Dyhengco). Brother-in-law Keith exasperates Alan as he constantly Skypes into the scene, cleverly projected above the audience along with the ubiquitous mobile phone screen captures.

Writers Stacey Kaser and Alison Kelly along with director Chelsea Haberlin have crafted a tale that most, especially moms, will relate to, as Alex states “…every woman feels like this at Christmas”. Angst and drama, along with a healthy dose of comedy, create a recipe like a Alex’s favourite Christmas cake.  You can feel a love for the Holiday and while it’s cliched to say, the meaning of Christmas, at least for this family, wins out. In reality you could probably substitute any tradition-filled family holiday for Christmas with a similar result.

The Day Before Christmas plays until the day before Christmas, December 24th at the Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre.

Picks of the Week – November 30, 2016

December is finally upon us, perhaps we can find some dry days ahead to enjoy some of the festival fun in these picks of the week;

Bright: Until January 1st, millions of lights fill Bright Nights Christmas Train and Stanley Park Train Plaza to the delight of children young and old

Stage: The Arts Club Theatre Company brings the hilarious Avenue Q back to the Granville Island Stage until December 31st while  The Day Before Christmas is on the Goldcorp Stage at BMO Theatre Centre until Christmas Eve and family fave Mary Poppins starts on Saturday.

Pucks: The Vancouver Canucks are back at Rogers Arena for a pair of games this week; Thursday versus Anaheim Ducks and Saturday against Toronto Maple Leafs

Van Dusen Festival of Lights

Garden: The annual Festival Of Lights brings the dancing lights and illuminations to Van Dusen Botanical Garden from December 1st to January 2

Panto: The 4th Annual East Side Panto: Little Red Riding Hood brings some local flavour to the fairy tale at the York Theatre until December 31st.

Tree: Robson Square is now the spot to be on Friday night to watch the 10th Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.

Laughs: Funny lady, Amy Schumer brings her opinionated, bawdy humour to Rogers Arena on Friday night.

Queen: Will the Christmas Queen find herself a beau? Found out if her suitors can melt the mean, cold heart of Vancouver Theatresports League’s Christmas Queen  

Luminate: The third annual Lumiere Festival lights up the night with art-light installations at Morton Park, Jim Deva Plaza and throughout the West End

After-Party: Once you’ve enjoyed the lights and art of Lumiere Festival, head upstairs to XY YVR for ONYX – Lumiere After-Party with DJ Bertossi and host Bibi Souphresh


Lights: Throw on your boots and trek your way through Enchant, the worlds largest Christmas light maze and market illuminating the shores of False Creek (between Cambie Bridge & Olympic Village)

Market: Ride the Carousel, grab a bite or drink as you shop the Vancouver Christmas Market at its new location in Jack Poole Plaza

Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2017 Announced

DineOut-logo-no-datesChristmas comes early for Vancouver foodies as the highly anticipated launch of Dine Out Vancouver Festival events are announced.

We’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out the participating restaurants and menus but now’s the time to start planning which events to attend.  Over the last few years the Dine Out Vancouver Festival events have developed into a flavourful and fun program all of the own.

Robbie Burn Celebration, Secret Supper Soiree, The Grape Debate, are just some of the educational and tasty events in the program, there’s so many Dine Out Festival events to choose from there’s something for everyone.

Some of the series events include:

Cocktail Masterclass with award-winning bartender Lauren Mote as she takes you around the world to learn about cocktails of France, Scotland, Latin America and Bitters 101

Get Crafty with Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co in Kits or on Main as you make your own pizza and pair it with local craft beers

Brunch Crawls from Vancouver Foodster are once again pairing neighbourhoods with Dine Out Vancouver Festival for morning brunch tours around; Gastown, Kitsilano, East Village, Yaletown, West End, and Commercial Drive. Vancouver Foodster also hosts Art, Eat & Sip on Granville Island.

Check out all the Dine Out Vancouver Festival events scheduled today to start planning your festival fun.


East Van Panto : Little Red Riding Hood delivers laughs

eastvanpanto-redNow playing at the York Theatre, East Van Panto : Little Red Riding Hood, brings laughs to your holiday entertainment.  Presented by The Cultch and Theatre Replacement, East Van Panto is now in its 4th season and from the growing audiences, there’s sure to be many more years to follow.
In the long tradition of the British pantomime, the family friendly musical brings the Grimm fairy tale to the stage with East Van flavour.  Hosted by the hipster East Side Holiday Claus, played with abandon by Andrew McNee (who also plays the Big Bad Wolf).  The yellow-garbed, bearded jolly not-so-old elf led the way by educating the audience unfamiliar with ‘the rules’, when to cheer, boo, shout and interact with the players. The fun of a Panto is the interaction between cast and fans the more participation the better.

Photo : Emily Cooper.
Photo : Emily Cooper.

Writer Mark Chavez interweaves the tale of Little Red Riding Hood with our local Vancouver landmarks and personalities bringing familiarity to the tale and providing for plenty of the laughs.  Veda Hille has twisted contemporary pop songs with lyrics that elevates the Panto’s comedic storytelling. Until December 4 Veda Hille performs with the Panto herself, before passing the musical duties to Benjamin Elliott.
Andrew McNee is not the only player to do double duty, most of the cast change hats, pants and dresses throughout the show to hysterical success. Rachel Aberle’s portrays Little Red with power, passion, innocence, and impeccable comic timing in nearly every scene.
Find the laughter while it lasts, East Van Panto: Little Red Riding Hood runs at the York Theatre until December 31st.

Smokehouse Sandwich Co – Richmond

Smokehouse_photo-2016-11-18-13-36-57After hearing good things from my colleagues about Smokehouse Sandwich Co, I finally had to try it for myself. The unassuming little shop is tucked away in a small commercial building on Westminster Hwy (at Tiffany Blvd), there’s also an outlet downtown in Cathedral Place.  A rustic, cozy interior matches the housemade, uniquely stacked sandwich menu.
Smokehouse_photo-2016-11-18-13-54-49With just 5 signature sandwiches on the menu, Smokehouse Sandwich Co makes sure they’re done right.  There’s no ham and cheese or cold turkey club on this menu, instead we’re intrigued by coffee-crusted strawberry glazed beef brisket, salt-cured pork belly, pulled tamarind chicken, cumin spiced pulled pork or a vegetarian option of Portobello mushroom. Aioli, salsa, slaw, red peppers, sesame oil dress up the meat stacked on the white or high-fibre bun, double up or mix and match the meat to customize your own sandwich.  I tried the pulled pork “Billie” and enjoyed it but look forward to trying some of the other names on the menu.
Add on a side of housemade crisps, Asian Slaw or regular coleslaw, Brussel Sprout salad, green salad, veggies and dip or fresh fruit to round out your lunch tray or take out brown bag.  Eat in, order take out or even order ahead by phone or email for pick up if you’re in a hurry.

Smokehouse Sandwich Co. is located at 5188 Westminster Hwy in Richmond or in Cathedral Place at 925 West Georgia St. in downtown Vancouver.

Tasting Plates Chinatown – Recap

A damp night didn’t dampen enthusiasm of the restauranteurs and patrons for Vancouver Foodster‘s Tasting Plates Chinatown on Wednesday evening.  The five eateries, scattered around the neighbourhood, exemplified the diversity in Chinatown as new and old make the National Historic Site their own. From traditional Chinese, to European flavours, to modern Asian fusion, and 35 years face off against 4 months of history.

TP_Chinatown_img_0525Checking in at Floata, the traditional Dim Sum & Seafood restaurant, closed off part of their large space for the Tasting Plate diners. While their Tasting Plate of Chow Mein, Egg Roll and Sesame Ball didn’t show off their kitchen to its best,  I’ve been to Floata for Dim Sum before and know they’re capable of bringing good flavours to the plate.

TP_Chinatown_img_0537The next Tasting Plate brought totally different flavours to the palate, Klaus’s Kaffe Haus.  The Coffee and Strudel cafe offered hearty, fair that was perfect for the night’s weather.  A quartet of tastes graced their plate; rich Vienna Gulasch Soup, Chinese Strudel (Pork, Bamboo Shoots, Water Chestnut, Mushroom), Asparagus & Mushroom Vegetarian Strudel and a sweet Apple Strudel.  All four items were full of flavour and filling, enticing us to want to return for a full-size strudel soon.

TP_Chinatown_img_0543Next we wandered over to the longest established Treasure Green Tea Company, on E Georgia since 1981. The welcoming tea shop is pristinely merchandised, like a museum, filled with tea, gifts, accessories and other tea-infused items.  The tea hosts prepared and served a trio of Tasting Cups of premium black tea; the 2016 seasonal blend Symphony of Light, sweet floral Romantic Peony and the tart Citrus Melody.  As an accompaniment baguette was dipped in Treasure Green Tea’s Camellia Tea Oil, infused with Dragon Ball jasmine green tea reduction.

TP_Chinatown_img_0566On Main Street we next found the Le Tigre Food Truck, outside of their restaurant, Torofuku.  The truck dished up a plate of zesty fried chicken. Even though it’s called “Don’t Order This Chicken” you really should, order it! The crispy but tender friend chicken was complimented by  7 Spice Mayo, and mixed herb Thai Chilli.


TP_Chinatown_img_0583Across the street was the most recently opened participant, Lise Lou’s Chocolate Bar, is a bar that I could regularly be found propping up! The small chocolate, confectionary and ice cream parlour offered a cross-section of their handmade wares.  Marc Ice Cream, inspired by their Marc Chocolate Bar – bourbon caramel, marcona almonds, Ruth Bar – strawberry raspberry jelly with crunchy peanut praline, then we got to choose a flavour of Salted Caramel and one of their nearly two dozen signature Truffles

All five restaurants showed their flavours and that the neighbourhood continues to evolve and develop.

If this sounds like a taste excursion, join Vancouver Foodster’s next events, Noodle Mania and during Dine Out Vancouver Festival, Brunch Crawls.

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