Sunday 31 July 2005

How I spent my summer vacation

We headed to Burnaby on Saturday, July 23, to spend a couple days with my friend, Leanne, her husband, Sam, and daughter, Marron. We stayed at the Best Western in Coquitlam. We used airmiles and ended up with a two bedroom suite. Very nice!

It was nice to see Leanne, Sam and Marron as it had been a while since I've seen and hung out with them. We went to a Greek restaurant for supper that night. Very yummy! Then we took a walk around Burnaby Mountain (where Leanne and Sam got married) - great views. After they dropped us off at our hotel, we found a pub nearby called the Foggy Dew and we had a couple pints on the patio.

Sunday, Leanne, Marron, Leanne's mom, Shirley, Gord and I went to Storeum in downtown Vancouver. It's a "theatrical presentation" of British Columbia's history. It was very entertaining. That afternoon, Leanne, Sam, Marron, Gord and I went to Capilano Suspension Bridge. It's a swaying 450 foot bridge that crosses above Capilano Canyon. Once there, we (Marron, Gord and I) did the Treetop Adventure - suspension bridges from tree to tree. Then it was supper at White Spot.

Monday, Gord and I drove to Whistler. We stayed at the Whistler Pinnacle. We had a nice room with a full kitchen, balcony and a big jacuzzi. We loved Whistler! It's such a cute town. We spent the afternoon walking around the Village.

Tuesday (our third anniversary), we took the gondola up Whistler Mountain and went glacier hiking. Neither of us knew what to expect - but it blew us away. We hiked to Whistler Glacier and then got our gear on - helmet, crampons, harness, rope, etc. And off we went climbing up 500 feet over snow and blue ice. Wow! Our guide, Monica, was great! We were surprised at how warm it was - probably about 20C. Then we came back down - it took a lot less time. We had lunch at the Roundhouse - we were starving!! Then we took another gondola to the Peak - what a view! We headed back down to the Village and had a couple drinks at Black's Pub. We were exhausted so it was an early night.

Wednesday, we took the gondolas to the top of Blackcomb Mountain (it takes three gondolas and a bus to get to the top). There were people skiing and snowboarding. The air was so fresh and cool - about 12C. We had a beer at the restaurant patio. Best place we ever had a beer, surrounded by mountains. We had supper at Milestones that night (across the street from our hotel) and then went to a pub called the Dubh Blinn and sat on the patio listening to Guitar Doug.

We headed back to Vancouver on Thursday. We went to Granville Island that afternoon - it was very close to our hotel. There is a microbrewery there and we'd gotten to like that beer (Granville Island Brewery). Then we headed for Robson Street. Natalie, our waitress at Black's Pub in Whistler, said the Cactus Club makes the best Bellini's so we had to check 'em out. They are better than Milestones'. Then we went to Cloud Nine, a revolving restaurant. It takes 80 minutes to make the revolution and you get a great view of Vancouver. We ended up in Gastown for supper. Along the way back to our hotel, we came across a pub called Doolin's. There was a Celtic band playing called the Halifax Wharfrats so we stopped for a while.

Friday, we walked to Stanley Park by way of English Bay. We walked around the park (9 km). We walked to Yaletown on our way back to the hotel and came across a microbrewery. We sat on their patio for a while. Onwards again we stumbled upon a Brazilian street festival. Free food and booze so we stopped in. Later that night we went to a bar called the Two Parrots on Granville Street for a late supper. There was a jukebox and there was quite the selection of tunes being played by the customers.

Saturday, we went for a 75 minute cruise around the harbour. Then we walked up to Yaletown and had a late lunch at Dix - huge meal of ribs and chicken. Way too much food. We sat on the rooftop patio of our hotel for a while before heading out to the casino. I won playing roulette (my first time playing) - I started with $20 and left with $120.

Sunday, we flew home. Just before we landed in Toronto, the pilot turned off the lights of the plane so we would watch a lightening show happening below us.

Great vacation! Amazing weather!

Tuesday 26 July 2005

Happy anniversary to Gord and me!

Gord and I celebrated our third anniversary by
gracier hiking on Whistler Mountain!

Happy birthday to me!!

This is me celebrating my 43rd birthday!
We just spent the day on Whistler Mountain.

Friday 22 July 2005

Jalapeno, Toronto, ON

From ~ True Mexican flavour in the heart of Toronto. Jalapeno's Mexican Restaurant serves common Mexican dishes like tacos and fajitas but also offers more traditional regional dishes. Jalapeno's has a wide selection of meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes and features a live Mariachi band on Saturday nights. The dress code is casual and reservations are recommended.

With much trepidition, we tried Jalapeno. I hadn't heard many good things about it lately. But it's in our 'hood and Gord likes Mexican food.

I arrived early and was able to have a table on the patio. There was a roaming duo of musicians. The service was good. We started off with a pitcher of Sangria. I had a chicken enchilada and deep fried ice cream. I'm not a big Mexican food lover but it was okay. Gord went with the waitress' suggestion of chicken with mole sauce. Neither of us was too crazy about it - it's a bitter chocolate sauce.

I wouldn't be heading back too soon - only because I'm not a big fan of Mexican food.

Jalapeno's Mexican on Urbanspoon

Wednesday 20 July 2005

Book ~ "False Profits" (2005) Patricia Smiley

From ~ When investors accuse Tucker Sinclair of doctoring a business plan, they approach Sinclair's boss and mentor, Gordon Aames, and demand their $11 million back. Sinclair goes in search of the plan's primary author, a neurologist, Milton Polk, and discovers Polk is dead. In an unlikely scenario, Sinclair injects herself into a charity luncheon given by Wade Covington, a powerful man connected both to Aames and the murder victim. Clarification of Covington's murky relationship to Polk and of a convoluted insurance scam take up most of Sinclair's energy, though she finds time for sparkless visits with her ex-husband and skirmishes with her Aunt Sylvia, who's determined to get her hands on Sinclair's beachfront cottage.

It wasn't a bad read - it was slow in some parts but has the possibility to become a good series.

Saturday 16 July 2005

Sightlines, Roger Centre, Toronto, ON

Gord and I checked out Sightlines, a restaurant at the Rogers Centre (formerly known as the SkyDome) with our friends/neighbours, Monica and Mark. It's a nice restaurant that overlooks the field so that's where we watched the Blue Jays get beat by Tampa Bay :(

The buffet is set up in stations - Italian, Asian, Southwestern, desserts, etc. There was a lot of choice and I ate soooooo much. The only puzzling thing was that there was no chicken in the meals. You get to eat until the end of the seventh inning.

Friday 15 July 2005

Fred's Not Here, Toronto, ON

From ~ Fred may not not be there to greet you, but the staff at this smokehouse and grill reserve neither tables nor courtesy solely for their tuxedo-clad clientele. Suits, guys 'n' dolls, and camera-carrying tourists receive the same welcome. But do reserve a spot at this formal bistro-style destination in the heart of the theatre district--it gets busy. The fusion cuisine offers a cornucopia of flavors, from Thai to New Miami: U.S. prime steak, rack of lamb, and fresh game in the winter, including venison, rabbit, pheasant, and, you guessed it, emu and ostrich. There's also a fine assortment of pastas. Many of these items come right out from the smokehouse and off the grill.

Gord and I went to Fred's Not Here (King Street W) tonight. We were lucky enough to get a table on the patio. I had pork quesadillas, fish and chips and apple normandy. Gord had duck instead of fish and chips. The food was yummy and the service was good, considering how busy it was. We would go back.

It's amazing how busy King Street is on a Friday night. The restaurants are packed and there are people continuously walking around.

Fred's Not Here on Urbanspoon

Sunday 10 July 2005

Book ~ "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" (2004) Jenna Jameson

From ~ Jameson's career began at 16, when she fell for Jack, a tattoo artist. At a party, Jack's neo-Nazi uncle raped Jameson. Unable to face her father, a Las Vegas cop, she moved in with Jack. Within a year, she went from high school cheerleader to stripper to nude model to porn actress, with a stop along the way to become a crack addict. But, as the porn world would have it, the harder she fell, the more everyone wanted her, and she quickly became a top nude model and porn star, and the country's highest-paid feature dancer.

This is the latest book that our neighbourhood book club is reading. It's the biography of porn star, Jenna Jameson. To be honest, I'd never heard of her (still haven't though I've IMDBed her and she's done a ton of movies).

It was an interesting read - discovering how she became one of the most famous porn stars. If you are looking for a light read (but a heavy book - there are lots of pix of her) and enjoy learning about others, you'll enjoy it. Warning: the language is quite colourful and descriptive.

There is quite a variety of books read in our club. Everyone gets a turn to pick a book. We've read stuff by James Joyce, Lance Armstrong, Janet Evanovich, Nino Ricci, Alastair McLeod and many more.

Saturday 9 July 2005

Southern Accent, Toronto, ON

From ~ Stroll up to the 1940s bar for Cajun martinis, fresh-lime margaritas, and bourbon sours. Then step over to your dining table for entrees from a menu that changes every two weeks. Of course, certain basics don't change, such as the preference for organic ingredients and the insistence on fresh foods. At the same time, there aren't too many joints in town where you can enjoy catfish, as well as staples like calamari, steamed mussels, crab and lobster.

Every summer, we have Summerlicious here in Toronto. 120 restaurants around the City offer fixed menus/fixed prices. It's a good chance to check out restaurants at lower prices than usual.

We checked out Southern Accent tonight (Bathurst/Bloor). It's a Cajun restaurant. I had mixed greens salad, blackened chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and rhubarb/strawberry crumble. Gord had a chilled cucumber soup, jambalaya (with chicken and shrimp) and bread pudding. The food was very good and we'll be back. We split a pitcher of sangria.

Saturday 2 July 2005

"Black Donnellys", Stratford Festival, Stratford, ON

From Stratford Festival ~ Evil erupts in the seemingly innocuous setting of rural Ontario when James Donnelly, head of an Irish immigrant family, defies the attempts of a sinister secret society to drive him off his farm. This groundbreaking classic reveals the long-unacknowledged truth behind one of the most shocking episodes in Canadian history.

We are huge live theatre fans. For the last couple of years, we've had a Mirvish subscription. Nothing attracts us with the upcoming year of plays (could care less about the upcoming "Lord of the Rings") so we bought tix for other plays instead at theatres we've never been to (a couple for the Stratford Festival and one at the Shaw Festival).

The first of our two Stratford tix was The Black Donnellys today. We took the train. Why do the two hour drive when the train will take you there and back? We got there a bit early (1:00pm) so had a beer at a pub called Molly Blooms.

The play was at the Studio Theatre, a very small and quaint theatare. The play itself wasn't all that great - I gave it a 2/10 - but the entire Stratford experience made up for it. Stratford is a cute little town.

After the play, we walked through a park along the river to a restaurant called Sawyers. It advertises that it's on the river so we had visions of eating on a patio next to the river. Instead, we ate inside because apparently the bugs will attack you if you eat outside. Plus, you can't see the river because of all the trees anyway. The food was pricy but the portions were good and tasty. Then we walked back downtown again and had a beer at a pub called Sid's while we bided our time until it was time to go to the train station to head on home.

The train ride there and back was a nice experience. The cool part is that we ride right by our home (we are easily amused!).