Canada Day Wknd Love for YVR

Neon Vancouver Ugly Vancouver installation view (Museum of Vancouver)

Neon Vancouver Ugly Vancouver installation view (Museum of Vancouver)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well it’s Canada Day Long Weekend and I can’t think of a better way to commemorate the occasion than by giving a shout out to the beautiful city of Vancouver. Although nightlife is a bit wanting, there’s an abundance of places to eat.

If you’re in Vancouver this weekend and are lookin’ for some places to chow down these are the places I ate at last week when I was in town for a consulting gig. All highly recommended:

Kishimoto: Amazing sushi at great prices. Can’t find the like in TO unless you’re going super high end (#snore).

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Suika Snackbar: Awesome izakaya food with really good house cocktails. They’re the people who brought Kingyo to TO.

The Oakwood: I started with  the flight of Canadian whiskies and a beer and don’t really remember what I ate, but it was delicious and the service was friendly and encouraging.

Flight of Canadian Whiskies with requisite pint.

Flight of Canadian Whiskies with requisite pint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chewies: OYSTERS! Fried Okra. Super juicy fried chicken that would make Paula Deen proud (minus the racial controversy).

For a taste of the good old YVR in the big old YYZ I’d recommend Guu and Kingyo for izakaya cravings and Santouka for decent ramen.

 

 

Site Maintenance & Bad Food

Site Maintenance & Bad Food

True to the spirit of this blog of providing much needed commentary on things you might not have thought required commentary — I’m currently messing around with the theme and layout so if it looks a bit like ass please excuse me, or better yet provided some much needed commentary in the comments below.

In the meantime, I’ve an update on my eating of MREs. So far I’ve eaten:

– 1 maple muffin top. Verdict = too sweet/gross, and;

– 1 wheat snack bread with grape jelly. Verdict = smelled like raw dough, was mealy in the mouth, jelly was pure sugar. Gross.

Anyways, stay tuned as I continue to mess with the site, eat random things, and add to the general din that is the glory of the “information superhighway”.

Happy Thursday.

 

 

#WhiskeyFriday & MRE Saturday

My fellow people. Today’s the day. My first foray into the fascinating world of MREs. The nondescript utilitarian brown package that contains the “most technically advanced food in the world”. If you’ve been following along you might be wondering why now? Why in the name of delicious brunch places in TO are you opting, on a Saturday, at prime brunching hour, to dive into MRE wonderland? You’re also probably wondering how it tastes? Let me tell you. But before I do, remember that episode of the Simpsons called Homerpalooza?

Remember when he was driving the carpool and was teaching the kids how to rock n’ roll like a goddamn king?

That’s exactly how I felt last night at the Twin Shadow concert at The Phoenix. I had injured my Achilles tendon earlier in the week so didn’t intend to rock out. In fact, the plan was to have a reasonably good time, no dancing – only gentle swaying. For a while my gentle-sway was totally on point. But it was #whiskeyfriday, the vibe was good, the music was good, and the drink was in me. When he finally played You Call Me On I was totally channeling Homer Jay, “Now when I listen to a really good song, I start nodding my head, like I’m saying ‘yeeess’ to every beat. Yes Yes Yes, this rocks. And then sometimes I switch it up like. No, No, No! Don’t stop-a-rockin’!”

It was a great night so let’s be real, gentle swayin don’t cut it! You can’t contain this! So, as a result here we are, and here I am, sitting on the sofa on this gloomy Saturday staring into a tall glass of carbohydrate electrolyte beverage powder, orange, natural and artificial flavour.

How’s it look? Orange. How’s it taste? Like powdered orange Gatorade only a bit saltier. Overall assessment? Last night, GREAT. Fake Gatorade? Welcome. Now off to get some real grub.

 

 

Eating for the Cure…of Boredom (Part I)

Well, it’s been a week or so and I’ve not eaten a damn thing related to my last post. Why? Partly because I can’t stand the sight of them and partly because I felt the occasion really called for “live” eating and blogging — namely without the benefit of hindsight. Imagine how much more real restaurant reviews would be if the reviewer simply wrote or exclaimed the first thing that popped into their heads. “Transcendent!” “7 thumbs up!” “Bland.” “Flavours are there, but hair in the mouth.” “Just like mom used to make :)” “Just like mom used to make :(”

Fresh no? Anyways, in order to properly document my culinary journey in due course I think some systematic planning is in order. So, as a start here’s some additional background on the items under consideration from the Meal Supply Kit online store.

According to the site, “MREs are 3 course, shelf-stable, ready-to-eat meals developed by the US Military for feeding soldiers in the field. They are the most technically advanced food in the world.”

Image: MRE System from www.mealsupplykit.com

Image: MRE System from www.mealsupplykit.com

 

I’ve gotta admit, the fact that they are the most technically advanced food in the world is intriguing. But, being only a dilettante in the world of food blogging I don’t have the full 3 course meal system. In fact, an inventory of what I have on-hand shows that I’m in for a meager experience. For the record I have:

Drinks (Key feature, the packaging doubles as a plastic drinking vessel):

* Carbohydrate Electrolight Beverage Powder: Fruit Punch (Natural and artificial flavor). 12 oz serving;
* Carbohydrate Electrolight Beverage Powder: Orange (Natural and artificial flavor). 12 oz serving;
* Cocoa Beverage Powerder (Natural and artificially flavored, fortified). 6 oz;

Food:

* Blackberry Jam;
* Grape Jelly;
* Applesauce enhanced with Maltodextrin for Increased Performance;
* Muffin Top – flavor unknown;
* Wheat Snack Bread x 2;
* Toaster Pastry – Frosted Brown Sugar, and;
* Toaster Pastry – Strawberry

Having itemized everything I’ve found I definitely have no appetite so I’ll leave this post as is. Yes, I realize this is quite as shocking as the ending of last Sunday’s Game of Thrones [S03E09]. So to save you the trouble of hate-tweeting on me here’s some much needed distraction.

 

 

 

Spilling Ink for Terrible Food

“Good food deserves stern treatment”. These words were written by Welsh author Richard Llewellyn in his book How Green Was My Valley. The line has stayed with me over the years and I recall it often when I’m lucky enough to be seated at a table, mind-racing, the presence of others barely registering on the edge of perception because all I can think is, “Shut the fuck up and bring on the food”.

Good food deserves stern treatment. Such a simple sentence that can be appreciated by “foodies” and epicureans the world over. We live in an age where people are more educated about the culinary delights of the world than ever before. I often find myself thanking the gods that I live in times such as these where bone-marrow and foie gras have become almost pedestrian. You think Gordan Ramsey can offer sharp critique of a sub-par Yorkshire Pud? You haven’t heard me complain when the pacing of Sunday lunch at my aunt’s is not quite as desired. I mean, would it kill you to warm the plates before plating? How about timely maintenance of the table between courses?!

Come on! I’m trying to eat here!

Truly we live at a time where expectations for good food are at an all-time high. But, as expectations go up so too do standards (it is hoped). The number of Yelp! or Urban Spoon reviews I’ve read that wax poetic over a perfectly al dente bolognese, or a beautifully composed salad of seasonal herbs, fresh greens, goat’s cheese and poached pear (though a touch more citrus would have brightened up the plate) is enough to make one pause. Good food is all around us. And it has been given stern treatment.

But, what about mediocre food? What about the really god-awful shitty food? Don’t such dishes deserve some attention? Will noone spill some ink for the dishes left unfinished?

Well, I’m sure someone’s blogging about it already, but the point I’m trying to make is simply this: I came upon some army rations that look totally disgusting so I’m going to eat them and write about it here.

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Meal, Ready to Eat (photo: Christopherlin)

 

I have in my possession what feels like at least 2 pounds of random Meal, Ready to Eat rations. They look kinda like the ones in the picture above. The task before me is to eat them (and drink some of them) and then apply all of my years of learnings from countless hours spent watching Food Network to try to describe the experience of eating rations. In a condo. In downtown Toronto. Mostly because I’m bored.

Some of the key questions going into this experiment are: Does a not-too-shabby view of the CN Tower enhance the flavour? Are the rations more palatable if I’m wearing green, or some kind of camouflage? All this and more will become clear in the days to come.

Stay tuned gentle reader and follow along as my life takes an unexpected turn on this culinary journey.

P.S. For those who want to eat along you can order them here. Leave a comment to let me know you’re eating in solidarity.

P.S.S: The thought just occurred to me that I’m basically ripping off the movie Julie and Julia in which case I’m the Julie-equivalent and Meal, Ready to Eat is Julia Child. Not sure who’s got the short end of the stick on that one. Anyways, anyone looking to sue – too friggin’ bad, I’m claiming fair use, but am open to future film adaptations.

 

Breakin’ a Sweat with Capital Cities

Ho-lee-fuck. Just got home from the Capital Cities concert at Mod Club. I’ve been anticipating this show for months since I found them on Songza. Yes, I’m a total Johnny Come Lately, but whatevs.

It was a super tight show and my friends and I danced and sweated like it was on sale for 19.99. I’d read lots of Tweets about how fresh they were in NYC and they totally delivered. Capital Cities live was def one of the best shows I’ve been to in recent memory. As such, it’s also one of the shows I’ll always remember with a twinge of nostalgia and regret. Why? Because as with all great bands the next shows will only be more crowded. The vibe possibly diminished. But who knows? The night reminded me of Iggy and the Stooges at Bumbershoot in 2005. The music couldn’t be more different, but the vibe was infectious.

If you wanna be young, get drunk and dance your shit off then you’ve gotta check out Capital Cities live. If not, all good. Chill out and watch your fellow men and women break it down.

I chatted briefly with Ryan, Sebu and Spencer after the show. They promised to come back to TO and I promised to attend. I’ve no doubt these guys are gonna continue to lift the crowds with their hook laden beats. I’m wiped and happy — for what more could a guy ask as another summer prepares to dawn?

 

Speedwalking Through the VAG’s Grand Hotel

If you know me then you’ll know I’m not good at sitting still. You’ll also know what a relief it was to finally deplane after 5ish hours of sitting in the middle seat from YYZ to YVR. The saving grace of yesterday’s journey, aside from the ramen and izakaya eats, was my whirlwind visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG).

For a museum planner I’m notorious for getting museum fatigue really really easily. Maybe this makes me super sympathetic to museum-goers, especially the 5 year-old kid who’s bored to tears at any given moment at any given museum in this wide world. My capacity for boredom and fatigue also accords with my inability to sit through a plane ride. Anyways, I had 30 minutes to breeze through the permanent galleries which is often plenty of time. Needless to say I was astonished when I found myself wanting more time to explore the Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life exhibition that is currently showing.

Road Trip Gallery detail

Road Trip Gallery detail

Road Trip Gallery Detail

Road Trip Gallery Detail

 

I won’t go into details here (though I really want to) simply because, as I said, I breezed through the show and it really deserves a proper write-up. However, it’s a super engaging theme and the curators were pretty expansive in their approach to the topic touching on such sub-themes as culture, the social, travel and design. I’d say the show broadly addresses the question: How is modern life understood differently through the phenomenon of the modern hotel?

I found the ‘culture’ exhibits particularly interesting — it’s a lot of text and poring over documents, mixed with screen-based experiences of movie clips and music from the period. For me it was super interesting because it explores the hotel as hub or retreat for cultural creation (think Ginsberg and the Beat Hotel in Paris). Normally the amount of reading involved would be a deal-breaker (it’s really not that much text, but it’s me), but everything in the show is assembled with care and purpose so I want to give it a proper go.

If I can swing it in between meetings and client dinners I will definitely go back and take my time.

Sitting in my hotel room right now, trying to deal with a fit of insomnia, I feel a tinge of regret. Regret because I didn’t have more time at the VAG to immerse myself in the world of modern hotels. Even more regret because the the hotel room I’m sitting in as I write is bland and it’s doubtful any sudden bursts of creativity will be forthcoming.

Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life runs from April 13 to September 15, 2013.

Getting Lost in the Memory Palace

Friday and Saturday was spent gawking at art. I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario to attend the opening of Janet Cardiff’s and George Bures Miller’s exhibition Lost in the Memory Palace on Friday night and then went back for more on Saturday.

Lost in the Memory Palace is the perfect title for this survey exhibition as it really does feel like your going on a journey. After swooning for a while at “The Forty Part Motet” I roamed round and around on the forth floor checking out each installation multiple times. The new piece they created for the AGO, “Experiment in F# Minor” was pretty awesome. If it’s packed, I’d recommend just lingering in the room until it empties out so you can play with it on your own or with a few friends.

One of the oddest things I saw a little girl activate “The Killing Machine”…so weird, and it turns out it was Janet’s and George’s daughter which made the experience even more strange.

If you’ve not seen it yet all I’ve gotta say is get your ass down there NOW! It runs until August 18th.

Cardiff & Miller: Media Art Magic

Long lost University of Alberta alumni meet for the first time!

Long lost University of Alberta alumni meet for the first time!

 

“We’re getting old, so there’s a lot of work”, said George Bures Miller. This opening line was the start of what was a great talk by two of my favourite contemporary artists last night at the Art Gallery of Ontario. For a bit over an hour they walked us through the body of work they created over the years.

What I love about their work is how intensely personal so much it feels. And yet, when an audience member asked about their relationship to the viewer and whether they create with the viewer in mind? Janet‘s response was simple, “Not really, if we’re really into it, then we’re ok”. This simple and truthful answer comes through in the work. I think if artists create for themselves in an open and honest way then the works will connect to viewers. This is particularly true of Cardiff & Miller’s work because our bodies, our senses and how we perceive and know the world is ultimately what makes their creations so so compelling. The starting point of much of what they make is the body (their own bodies and sense perceptions), and as Maurice Merleau-Ponty noted, “The body is our general medium for having a world.”

 

Cardiff & Miller during question period.

Cardiff & Miller during question period.

 

It was really great to hear them talk about their creative process and you realize just how long they’ve been doing this. The two of them on stage together seems to make perfect sense. It’s hard to imagine one without the other and the audience sighed in satisfaction when they agreed, “We make each other’s art better”. If you’re familiar with their work then you know that we were all chomping at the collective bit for more, More, MORE! MORE Cardiff & Miller!

Luckily, a survey exhibition of their installation work, Lost in the Memory Palace, opens tomorrow night at the Art Gallery of Ontario. More info here.