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I was at a dance class last night.  At the beginning of the class one of my amazing teachers humbly asked us to each tell our name and one thing we love about Vancouver. Having only a few seconds to think about it, compounded by the fact that I was feeling a bit down in the dumps at the moment and adding that it was pouring rain outside… I said “My name is Leslie and I love the rain”.

Truth is, I do like rain. Do I love the rain, though? Not as sure. I just couldn’t think of anything else at that moment. And, that is why these rituals are so very important. By the time everyone else had said what they love, I too was reminded of some of the blessings I have derived from living in Vancouver. Yes, it does rain. It rains because Vancouver is in a would be rain forest. It would be, if all the trees hadn’t been removed over 100 years ago. In fact, it was once part of one of the very few temperate rain forests on the planet. This rain that creates months of ‘dull’ is the same rain that gives us the lush seasons filled with green and flowers that no one else in Canada can enjoy in the same abundance. This is the same rain that washes our dust away and keeps our Vancouver sparkly for all to see. Anyway, it’s all good if you have good rain gear.

Sure it rains here, but, only a 20 minute drive gets my daughter to the bottom of the Grouse Mountain Gondola where she can go up above it all and snowboard to her hearts delights. I pick her up and she smells like she was visiting heaven, fresh with ozone, and she has healthy colour in her cheeks. This is the same mountain that we enjoy, as it’s lights twinkle in our night sky. The same mountain lets us know that winter is here, by turning white, and that summer has finally arrived, by turning brown and green. Alway being carefully watched over by the Lions just to the north/west.

The sea air that comes wafting in from the Pacific helps us to keep perspective and to appreciate the water and its great power, as the tides go in and out with the moons. Each changing tide uncovers new hidden treasures. Living on the ocean I have met many people who sail and have even had the opportunity to join some of them on sailing trips. On a sailing trip you may be fortunate enough to spot a whale, a sea lion, or any number of other creatures.

The cultural diversity of Vancouver is just wonderful. With it comes the variety of restaurants, dancing, music and events. Anywhere you go in Vancouver you’re likely to hear a variety of accents, and see different types of dress. When I first moved here, I was fairly closed minded about trying different foods. I came from a small city in Ontario, where the most exotic culinary experience I had ever had was Chinese food from the China Doll Restaurant and Tavern. Now, I enjoy all kinds of foods from every country any time I feel the desire. There are so many great restaurants in  Vancouver, that it’s often hard to choose.

The night life here is really fun too. I saw 3 live bands last weekend alone, and will see Raphael Saadiq tomorrow night. There are all kinds of dance things happening all over the city. I like Cuban Salsa and there’s alway something I can go to every weekend if I want to . The Georgia Straight is a good place to look for up coming events in Vancouver , and it’s free. Often, I can be found enjoying the night life from my apartment. I have a fantastic view of Vancouver from my couch and the lights sparkle and twinkle and help me to remember the huge number of wonderful people and things to do that this city holds.

This is my favourite time of year… the street in front of my apartment is lined in cherry trees that are in full bloom. If it’s a sunny morning you could swear that it had snowed over night, before looking out the window. The light is so white from the blossoms.

Cherry Trees

I live very close to a crow rookery and every evening when the sun goes down the crows flock over my place enroute to their night spot. Crows are such amazing birds. If you head down to the rookery at sundown it’s just like a scene out of ‘The Birds‘. I wonder if Alfred filmed that in a similar area.

 

I probably shouldn’t go ahead and post this because it’s likely that I’ll kick myself for forgetting something. I just write off the top of my head, so, I often miss points that I later wish I had thought of.

Oh, yeah, did I mention the fact that there are bike routes all over the city and that you can actually ride all year round in Vancouver?

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It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m listening to my favourite Canadian Singer/Songwriter, Bob Rylett. His music makes me feel happy and soft.  I’ve started four different blogs in the last two months and haven’t finished any of them so, I’m starting a fifth right now, only I have to have it complete 20 minutes from now so I still have time to play my guitar before going out to meet my friend Rina for dinner.

Last night I made a dinner for my friend Kai and myself. She actually does a food blog, so, she’s a bit of a ‘foodie’. The meal turned out so well that I wanted to write it down for you to try, and for me to remember what I did!

This is something that I just made up from a bunch of different recipes I had looked at. It’s kinda like my own version of a ciopinno, but, I’m pretty sure I broke a whole bunch of rules. Doesn’t really matter because it was absolutely, mouthwateringly, amazing!

INGREDIENTS

1 bag frozen Mussels (Costco)

1/2 bag frozen Scallops (Costco)

1/2 bag frozen Prawns (Costco)

1 full chicken breast (local meat market)

6 skinny hot Italian sausages (local meat market)

2 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 can coconut milk

1/2 bottle of white wine (something cheap, I used Fuzion)

1 large red pepper

1 fennel bulb

2 celery stalks

3 shallots

6 cloves garlic

1″ piece of ginger

3 tsp hot chilli sauce

1 tbsp oregano

1 bunch of cilantro (coarsely chopped)

First sear the chicken breasts in the coconut oil. Don’t cook them too long just get the outside browned and then pull them out and slice them into small pieces and put aside.

Put the sausages into the same pan and cook them, then pull them out cut into 1/2″ pieces and set aside.

Finely chop the Celery, Fennel Bulb, Red Pepper and set aside.

Finely chop the Shallots, Garlic and Ginger, saute them in the butter, just until they are soft. I used a great big huge Wok for this. Add the tomatoes, and coconut milk and wine and get it bubbling, then you just start introducing the other stuff in this order: Chicken, Sausage, Fennel, Celery, Red Pepper, Chilli Sauce, Oregano. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, then introduce the Mussels, Scallops and Prawns. When the Prawns are cooked, throw the Cilantro on to and serve it up!

Leslie's Seafood Soup

Hope you enjoy this! Any questions…. feel free to ask!

Leslie

I was in the Everything Wines Store a couple of weeks ago and I ran into Ivan, who works there and has helped me select great wines in the past. He told me about an evening of Peruvian Food Tasting and Wine Pairings that he was preparing to do in my neighbourhood. Well, those are two of my favourite things, so, I was in for  sure. Two of my friends and I went tonight to a small restaurant by the name of the Rustic Llama Peruvian Cafe. There were about 20-25 guests for the pairing. It was really great because Ivan, the host gave a very informative presentation about Peru and it’s rich cultural history, and we heard about the wines from several reps that attended.

Ivan

Luis and Carmen prepared some amazing dishes in Peruvian tradition, starting with  Ceviche de Pescado which was paired with  Pisco Sour, which is not a wine, but a cocktail containing pisco brandy, egg whites, lime and some other magic ingredients. It was a fresh start.

One of my favourites was the Causa de Pulpo  potato dish with octopus… paired with Olivares Rose wine.

Causa de Pulpo

The Arroz con Pollo chicken served with cilantro flavoured rice was amazing and  the Salvalai Primitivo Flaio only helped to enhance the already wonderful flavours.

Claudio, specializes in Pollo a la Brasa, which we got to sample tonight along with Ferrandiere Marselan. It was the most flavourful rotisserie chicken…. and oh so juicy!

Lana and Rina

Rina took some pictures… sure hope they turned out better than mine did….

Dessert consisted of the most delicate little pastry that reminded me of a very light shortbread with a delicious rich dark filling made from browned sweetened milk. With the desert wine, it was an even richer experience…

OK… the food, the wine… all good!!  But, the whole evening was made fantastic by great friends, conversations and laughs!

If any of you would like to try out some great food, I would recommend the trek out to Boundary and Hastings to the Rustic Llama Peruvian Cafe…but, make sure you only come out on Friday or Saturday, because they aren’t open the rest of the week!

If you want more details about the pairings and food and also way better pictures… be sure to stop in and see Ivans’ Blog!

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