Bombay Black returns to the Vancouver stage

In a change from the festive fair on most stages around town, next week The Firehall Arts Centre presents Bombay Black.  

Running December 5 to December 15, 2018, the play by the award-winning novelist and playwright Anosh Irani was heaped with praise during its 2017 production at Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Bombay Black : Arshdeep Purba
Photo: Raymond Kam

Bombay Black is set in the bitter reality of present-day India. The iron-willed Padma (Jessie Award nominee Nimet Kanji) takes money from men who watch her daughter, Apsara (rising star Arshdeep Purba), perform an exotic dance. When a mysterious blind man named Kamal (Jessie Award nominee Munish Sharma) arrives for an appointment, his secret threatens to change each of their lives forever.

Bombay Black (l-r) Munish Sharma & Arshdeep Purba
Photo: Raymond Kam

Directed by Mumbai-born, multiple award-winning Indo-Canadian producer Rohit Chokhani, Bombay Black features a poetic text, bold theatrical imagery and a gritty twist. In a first, Vancouver Arts stalwart Chokhani has reimagined Irani’s work to present the play from the perspective of a blind man. An earlier version of this production, which was Chokhani’s directorial debut at the 2017 Vancouver Fringe Festival, enjoyed a sold-out run and received the Pick of the Fringe Award.

Donna Spencer had this to say about the production, “As Artistic Producer of the Firehall, I have always been excited about supporting the work of artists from diverse cultural backgrounds and providing opportunities for emerging directors to have their work seen. Rohit Chokhani’s production of Bombay Black provides just that opportunity to showcase his work as a director and to introduce the creative team and actors in the work to our audiences.”

Anosh Irani’s Bombay Black runs at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street, Wednesday, December 5 to Saturday, December 15th, 2018.

For showtimes and tickets visit firehallartscentre.ca

3rd Annual Pizza Palooza Corners Vancouver Pizza

Wednesday night, the snow was coming down but the pizza ovens were heating up Vancouver Foodster’s 3rd Annual Pizza Palooza.  Guests visited all corners of downtown Vancouver to try out some of the city’s pizzas and flatbreads.  From Neapolitan, to Lebanese, and Indian, to Roman, the ovens and flattops were cranking out the pies for the crowds of guests exploring the world of flavours.

To start off the night, the Pizza Palooza check-in location, Living Produce Aisle in Yaletown brought out some palate cleansing and healthy fresh juices made some some of their wholesome house-grown greens.

 

Then we were off, and pizza hunting.

One of Yaletown Davie Street’s newest spots Manoush’eh, is a recent winner of the Vancouver Foodster 2018 Flatbread Challenge, and you could taste why from their layers of Lebanese flavours in their offerings.  A dual serving of Falafel Flatbread (house-made falafel mix coated flatbread topped with tahini, tomatoes, pickled turnip and parsley) and Lahm be Ajeen (a thin crust, open face meat pie with organic spiced ground beef, with diced tomatoes and onion)

 

Just a couple blocks away, a traditional Neapolitan pizza becomes a one of a kind creation as a “You Build” pie from Firecrust Neapolitan Pizzeria.  Starting with a hand-stretched 6 inch dough we chose from dozens of sauces, meats, vegetable and cheese toppings before our own creations were fired into the stone oven.

 

 

Further along Davie Street, into the West End, Davie Dosa Company turned their Indian pancakes into Indian pizza by topping their dosa with curried lamb on one half and vegetables (bell peppers, tomato, carrot, cottage cheese and cilantro) on the other half.  Alongside a zesty lentil soup dip, coconut and tomato/ginger chutneys added more flavour to the Indian pizzas.

Crossing the city to Gastown, the recent addition to the neighbourhood, Ignite Pizzeria Express near Waterfront Station offered a pair of slices from their rotating selection of artisan Neapolitan style pizzas.  The Ignite crew was quickly turning out a variety of topping combinations hot from their oven, like Four Formaggi, Spicy Soppressata, Pesto Chicken, Fresh Ricotta and others.

Finally the original Gastown location of Stretch Roman Pizza Co. offered another pizza pair; Pancetta e Scamozza (pancetta parmigiano and smoked mozzarella) plus Caprese Pizza (bocconcini, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil) piled on their signature long stretched soft dough.

With the snow lightening up during the evening, the 3rd Annual Vancouver Foodster Pizza Palooza was a great evening of flavour exploration.  If this sounds appealing join the next Vancouver Foodster event, Tasting Plates Coquitlam coming March 14th

Vancouver Foodster Taco Crawl – recap

A sunny autumn evening was a perfect occasion for Vancouver Foodster’s first Taco Crawl.  The selected Vancouver restaurants created their take on their best taco bringing a balance of flavours and styles for the Taco Crawl patrons.

TacoCrawl_img_8927Meeting at Kalai’s Dosa Hut on Fraser Street we collected our Taco Crawl cards and menus.  Then we sat down for Dosa Hut’s unique variation on the taco, taking one of their signature dosas, and wrapping it around a nicely spiced tomato chicken (or vegetarian) filling.  Watching some of the other dishes and massive dosas coming from Chef Kalai’s kitchen made us put Dosa Hut on the list for a return visit.

TacoCrawl_img_8949Over in Cambie Village, we had a traditional pair of tacos from the always reliable Los Tortas Gourmet Mexican Sandwiches.  Soft tortillas enveloped rich, barbecued pulled pork or Mexican Zucchini, tomato and cheese.

TacoCrawl_img_8943Across the street, Tmix Tea & Dessert served up another unique ‘taco’. Tmix brought together hot and cold for a sweet taco. Wrapping one of their hot-from-the-griddle bubble waffles around ice cream.  From the list of a dozen plus flavours we settled on frozen brulée banana and red velvet cheesecake. The warmth of the waffle softened the frozen flavours enough to make it a soft ice cream sandwich or more like a burrito.

TacoCrawl_img_8955Downtown La Catrina Tacos, said to be Vancouver’s Best Mexican Tacos, presented another pair of traditional style tacos.  Hot tortillas piled high with filling; Papas Mexicanas – Mexican potatoes drizzled with cream and Res En Cascabel -zesty braised beef cooked in cascabel chili sauce. Add hot sauce, pickled onions, hot peppers to taste and make the tacos your own.

TacoCrawl_img_8963Getting into Patron Tacos & Cantina just before the Canucks and Whitecaps let out, let us wrap up Taco Crawl with another pairing with another unique ingredient.  Cochinita is tender, braised pork butt with achiote paste and onion. On the other side Nopales, the tender new leaves from a prickly pear cactus, were cooked with corn salsa and topped with cheese. Served with refried beans to add to the filling or eat on its own.

While we may think we can never get enough tacos, the Taco Crawl certainly satisfied us with great tastes for the evening.

If you missed out on this great tasting Vancouver Foodster event, get your tickets now for Tasting Plates Yaletown on October 19th.

Friday Farewell – Bengal Lounge at Fairmont Empress

Bengal_2016-04-22, 12 46 40Not a usual Friday Find, because the Bengal Lounge at the Fairmont Empress Hotel has been around since the 60’s but rather a farewell since it will be closing its doors tomorrow, April 30th.

The iconic space began as a reading and writing room before becoming the Coronet Lounge, Victoria’s first cocktail bar in the 1950s.  It’s been serving cocktails over half a century, becoming the Bengal Lounge in the late 60s.
The Fairmont Empress Hotel is named for Queen Victoria’s rumoured favourite title, Empress of India, and the Bengal Lounge is decorated in a Victorian-era colonial Indian style to echo this title. Dark wood fixtures and fitting, tiger-skin hanging over the fireplace, punkah ceiling fans, sipping on a 1908 martini  and the famed Curry Buffet are all part of the colonial style charm that makes a visit to the Bengal Lounge a visit back in time.Bengal_2016-04-22, 12 43 29

While the Bengal Lounge will be closing as a restaurant / lounge it has been announced that the 3000 square foot space will be retained as a banquet rental space.  A perfect setting for a meeting, event or even wedding. Watch for the newly renovated restaurant and lounge, replacing the Empress Room, to open in the Fairmont Empress later in May.

 

Eat Naaco pop-up at Hawkers Mercado

Hawkers Mercado is the pop-up food market at the new McArthur Glen Designer Outlet Centre at YVR.  An offshoot of the popular Hawker’s Market events, Hawkers Mercado brings unique dining options to the Outlet Centre until Labour Day.

Naaco_IMG_9297On our last visit we decided to have a bite at Eat Naaco, the first Vancouver effort from the Calgary Food Truck.   Eat Naaco combines Indian and Mexican cuisine using quality, local ingredients.  This pop-up creates three Naan + Taco combinations for their Hawkers Mercado menu;  Bengali Frijoles (vegetarian), Chicken Tinga Marsala, Beef Vindarojo.  The soft warm naan lends itself well to the tender meat fillings and fresh, crispy veggie toppings.

Naaco_IMG_9300
Chicken Tinga Marsala

Eat Naaco is at Hawkers Market until Labour Day but plans to open its first free standing Vancouver location.
Watch for it possibly in Gastown, later this autumn.