Vancouver Stories and Tips

FOOD AND FRIENDS IN VANCOUVER

Abbott House plaque- railroad magnate's home is  Photo, Vancouver, British Columbia

I LOVE to eat. Vancouver offers splendid opportunities for food lovers who are also travelers with a distinct preference for exploring multi-ethnic cuisine. Other guides have described the culinary highlight of the Imperial Chinese Seafood House dinner hosted by Tony Cheung, IGOUGO CEO, on Friday night of our get-together.

This lovely, chandeliered restaurant is quietly elegant. The dinner involved a series of plates (dim sum) carefully served without alcohol diminishing the taste of that food. I don’t particularly like duck, but the duck here was superb, not done to a crisp at the edges the way I have encountered (and disliked). After 10 or so plates of cuisine conjured with loving care and beautifully served, I was so glad I’d attended. The Marine Building in which the restaurant is located has been artfully restored and is a sight in itself not to be missed by lovers of Art Deco.

After the feast Idler, artsnletters, and I sensibly decided on a walk down to Canada Place, which I had never seen up close. During the ‘86 Expo, the queues for it had been too dauntingly long each day for us commuters who could never arrive earlier than 10am. Now it is a waterfront focus that draws locals and visitors to nocturnal vistas of lights over wide water.

Harry Potter likes Greek food, so when we visited Gastown, we enjoyed souvlaki alfresco at a restaurant smack-dab across from the commemorative statue of "Gassy Jack" Deighton himself. Sadly, the restaurant incongruously named Honey’s Character Taverna and Lounge is no longer in business at 1 Alexander Street.

Touristy and crowded as this area is, Vancouver visitors flock to it as the oldest part of town with ever-gorgeous harbor views. In 1867, Gassy convinced some lumber mill workers on the site to build him a saloon, and the thirsty ones obliged speedily. He acquired the nickname that stuck with him and history for his penchant for tall tales and just plain talking incessantly.

In 2 days, even an avid food lover can’t sample very much. After the reception first night, a group of us gal guides gravitated to a tapas place 2 blocks away from the Landmark Hotel and shared several plates of those Spanish tidbits. I was still hungry after I finished 5 of these bocadillos (mouth bites) and found they tasted bland, not much like the food I had in Barcelona, admittedly, the city in Spain that had astounded us with its culinary delights. Similarly, the Awards dinner at the Pacific Palisades was also bland, though I am biased, as I don’t particularly like most Japanese food beyond sushi and shrimp tempura.

About 14 guides got together, at the instigation of Linda Kaye, for a fun Saturday-morning breakfast at the White Tower (Greek) Restaurant next door to the Tropicana Hotel Suites. Mid-pancakes, French toast, eggs, and the usual accompaniment of strong coffee, guides really mingled and exchanged ideas about what to see and do for the day. Clearly, IGOUGOers are an independent, eclectic bunch of people who share a love of food and travel.

Dress was informal at all events; experienced travelers pack light, and neat and casual reigned. I enjoyed the food, the sights, and the faint reminiscences of Expo’86 Vancouver, but I treasured the face-to-face meetings with all those who attended the IGOUGO Guide Meet 2004. Undoubtedly, those who gather in that great big city London for the 2005 meet will accumulate their own indelible memories.

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