Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bella Bella Bella Gelateria

Remember my Italian adventures that included a gelato, if not two gelatos, a day?

I just had an epiphany!  Could my gelato over-indulgence have led to my pants not fitting????


Gelato's too good to be that evil.

Anyhoo, Italian gelato has ruined me for life (just like French coffee - I used to think a Timmy's double double was delicious.  Now it tastes like poop in a cup.) - ice cream from DQ just doesn't cut it.

Until I visited Vancouver's newest Gelateria.  Bella Gelateria.  It shares walls with the new Pacific Rim hotel but isn't part of the hotel.  It does have Fairmont pricing though.  $5.50 for one scoop.

I dashed in one day when it first opened because I had been anticipating its arrival for so long.  I tried 'Chocolate Grand Marnier'.

O. M. G.

The gelato is rich, creamy and FRESHLY made everyday!  No wonder it has a $5.50 price tag!  They fly their lemons in from Sorrento each week.  It's worth it though because the lemon gelato tastes like Italy.  Beautiful and amazing.

I suspect he puts crack into his gelato because just the very next day I had this overwhelming craving for chocolate grand marnier.  I 'dragged' the Engineer (promising him it was as good as our gelato in Sienna) but was dismayed to discover they didn't make that flavour that day.  Apparently it's a hard flavour to make.  They also like to change it up everyday.

I had honey nougat.

It was so good I would take a bath in honey nougat.

Oddly enough, I had a craving the day after that too!  This is when I discovered they always have about four types of chocolate in store.  In varying levels of darkness.  Apparently the owner and gelato master specialized in chocolate. Like, as a job.  Damn, I am pretty specialized in chocolate - how can I get paid for this?

I had milk chocolate.

And would you believe it?  I had a craving the following day!

This time chocolate sorbetto which is made sans dairy.  I poo-pooed this idea at first.  Isn't the whole point of gelato/ice cream is for the creamy texture derived from dairy?

Well, this sorbetto was creamier and richer than any ice cream I have ever had!


The evil craving that I just can't deny came back the next evening.  I was at the Fairmont with a friend and just before nine I panicked.  I thought that Bella closed at nine so I literally jumped up and RAN as fast as I could around the corner and down the block.  A family stepped out of my way and offered me their spot in line because I clearly needed a fix.

Turns out Bella closes at 10.

Is this what it feels like to be a drug addict?  You go into sheer panic if you can't get a dose (is that what they call it?  Or is it a hit?).

The next day I looked not only at my bank account (which seemed to be missing about $50) but I saw an unflattering picture of my arms.

You know the saying, 'A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips'?  For me it's my arms.  And it appears that in only a week my triceps had become waffle cones of gelato themselves.

Time to wean myself off.

I am allowed to go ONCE a week.

Better for my arms AND my wallet.

Plus it was getting embarrassing walking in there and having them automatically get my order ready.  It's been open less than a month and already I am the freak customer.

The point?

Get your ass downtown for some Bella Gelateria!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Like to Ride my Bicycle

Just after university, circa 2003 (GAH) I treated myself to an adorable pink cruiser. Due to the fact I was a waitress, I paid for it through layaway.  After collecting my tips for two months, I went to the store, paid the rest in cash and then drove through the streets of Kitsilano with a ridiculous grin on my face.

There is just something about pink cruisers that makes me ridiculously happy.  They make most people happy.  Have you ever seen someone on a cruiser bike with a big frown?  NO.  That is because they are happy bikes.  

Flying down a hill, the wind flying through your hair and perhaps blowing up your dress (which makes you realize one should not wear a dress whilst riding a bike even though all cartoon images of happy girls with flowers and baguettes suggest such) will make your troubles disappear.

It will also make you feel you are a bit too much sometimes.

Then once you have your cruiser and move into a condo with teeny tiny storage, you will let your cruiser pretty much sit in a locker for 5 years.

Sure, I've taken it out about once a year but it's such a pain in the ass.  It basically sits under a suitcase and old VHS tapes.

Until now.

I won't lie. Those cute little cartoon girls you see on greeting cards with girls sitting on a bicycle with a basket holding a dog and a bunch of hydrangeas (or Audrey Hepburn) inspired me to dust off the old cruiser and attach a basket built for two.  Dogs that is.

I found these lovely European bike baskets from Cynthia's Twigs and got mine attached last week, complete with matching pink pillow!  Again, perhaps too much?

Anyhoo, my vision of speeding along the seawall with baguettes in the front and happy dogs in the back wasn't exactly what happened.

On our first ride, Mr. Mop spent most of the journey standing up, scratching my back and making his weird growling noises. Brooklyn was quite good, but I think his barking was hampered by the fact Mop was standing on him.

Again I made the mistake of wearing a dress, so not only was I winding around the seawall on a sunny day with two dogs in a basket on a pink bike, but I was also flashing random tourists.  Needless to say, we got a bit of attention. I think people were mostly staring at the dog trying to escape than my granny panties, so that's okay.

On the way home, in the dark, I managed to pick some hydrangea from a nearby garden (thanks West End landscaping!) so my fantasy of the wind blowing in my hair with purple flowers and dogs in basket had come true.

After their second ride, both boys seemed to start to enjoy the bike.  As I glanced behind me, their little tongues were hanging out as their fur blew in the breeze.

Here's the bad thing about cruisers: they are heavy.  So in hilly city they can be sort of a bitch.  I mean once I had the not-so-brilliant idea of riding my bike to the gym which was located on the other side of Lion's Gate Bridge.  When driving through the Stanley Park Causeway, one never really notices the fact it is a hill.  

But it's a really long, slow, hard incline that you don't notice in a Volkswagon.

It was hell. I was useless. There I was, pedalling away going pretty much nowhere.  I eventually had to get off the bike and push it.  I got passed by racing cars and other bikes.  I felt like that time when I was 9 and drove my bike through mud and spent the better part of an hour getting unstuck.

That may have happened the other night.  Well, not the mud.  But the push part.

The dogs add 25lbs to the bike.  As I was riding to my friend's house, I was passed by all the eager beaver and shall we say, more professional, bike riders in the bike lane.  Here I am, pedalling my heart out with Mop walking around in the basket, on a pink bike being passed by groups of bikers with sleek helmets and shaved legs.  

I was even passed by a woman my mum's age who commented on how cute the dogs were as she raced by me.  

I ate her wind.

The vision I had in my head was a lot less ridiculous.  And didn't cause me to sweat so much.  But I am riding my bike nearly everyday now, the dogs are starting to love it and those hills are not so difficult.  Well, that last one is a lie.  

I still think the basket and the dogs and the pink are a bit too much.  Therefore I am considering a yellow paint job.  Would that make me seem less like a cartoon?  Would I be taken more seriously in the bike lane?  Or do two dogs chewing on a willow basket negate the whole thing?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Baby

After years of auditioning, the odd parts here and there, and a gig as an alien in Japan. My hard work has FINALLY paid off!

That's right.  I am now the proud host of my very own television show.

Well, it's more like a segment.

On cable.

So basically I am like the Tim 'The Toolman' Taylor of weddings.

Except this is no ordinary cable show!  We're pretty awesome.

I won't lie. It's pretty much the best job in the entire world.  Each week, I get to think of fun things to explore and discover.  Then, my partner extraordinaire, Aubrey Arnason takes the footage and makes it into these adorable segments:

Of course, none of this would be possible without our amazing camera-op and editor Jon Fenster. His last gig was chasing two men around the world.   Now he learns how to make pouf balls out of tissue. Lucky guy. I am so thrilled to share this with you and hope that you can help us with our viewership by subscribing to our channel on You Tube or become our friend on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (WeddingBellesTV) or check out our Wedding Belles website or actually watch us on Shaw!!!!!

Of course, none of this would be possible without our camera-op and editor extraordinaire: Jon Fenster. His last job was chasing two men around the world.

Now he learns to make pouf balls out of tissue paper.

Lucky guy!

We are so happy to share this with you and would love for you to subscribe to us on You Tube or become our friend on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (WeddingBellesTV) or watch us on Shaw!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Duck Confit

I must take a moment to stop and appreciate the most magnificent and wonderful dish on the planet:
Duck Confit.






Essentially it is tender meat cooked in its own fat for hours and then served up crisp and warm.  I just salivated thinking about it.

Since France, I have been craving duck confit like I used to crave bacon cheeseburgers.  What has the better calorie count?

So where in Vancouver can we get this delicious dish?

#1.  Les Faux Bourgeious
I love this little place in a random side street.  It gets crazy busy so you need to make resos!  Or show up and sit at the bar with your friend/lover/fiance/Engineer.  Sip wine, listen to the music, and eat crispy duck.  DUCK COOKED IN FAT!!

#2.  Pied a Terre Bistro
Well it's really a toss up here between the milk-fed veal medallions or the DUCK COOKED IN FAT!  Hmm, maybe both?

#3  Oyama Sausage
Okay, not a restaurant but one amazing meat store!  They sell duck confit for $4.99 a piece - so not bad? And they are all amazing staff their who laugh and give you as many sausage samples as you like - and will teach you to cook your confit!  In fact, every meat product is amazing here.  They treat their animals with love in the interior, and you can taste in.

Seriously, my stomach is growling.

So what about cooking duck confit at home? Well, if you don't have Oyama Sausage what can you do? Or if you are not in France and don't have shelves of duck fat what does one do?  Ummm, I'm actually not quite sure where to get the duck fat, but I do know these are amazing cookbooks that I love, have used and totally recommend!

I really love this book.  I actually read it for fun on a roadtrip.  Calder writes with such clarity and passion you want to pack up and move to Paris.

Barefoot in Paris?  I love her.  I love the book.  I especially love making cauliflower with a ton of cream and butter.  YUM.

  I was told about Joanna Harris's book while in that amazing bed and breakfast in Chinon.  This is the same author as 'Chocolat' and now she has two cookbooks!  If it's good enough for the Closerie in Chinon, it's good enough for me!

I love love love Chocolate and Zucchini!  It's a fun read and full of unique recipes.  Especially for the pastries and desserts.  Should I attempt croissants and duck confit?

Okay, time for bed.  For dreams of magical France and its even more magical DUCK COOKED IN FAT!

The Dog Park Debate

I have recently started a debate on Facebook regarding dogs, children and the dog park.

Here's what I think:  kids don't belong in the dog park.  Just like dogs don't belong in the playground.

There are two off-leash parks I tend to visit in Vancouver. One is Coopers Park near Yaletown and the other is Charleston Park near Granville Island.  Both parks are very near playgrounds and grassy knolls where dogs are not allowed off leash. Heck, dogs aren't allowed in the playgrounds full stop.

I respect that.  Kids running around free should not have to worry about being afraid of dogs chasing them or nipping them.  Parents can sit happily watching their kids knowing there is nothing to hurt their child.  Except for the asshole kid who throws rocks.

Same goes for my dog park.

Albeit, I am very sensitive about kids and Mr. Mop.  Mop is highly unpredictable around children.  Mostly he ignores kids. But if a kid comes chasing after him, squealing, he gets upset and will nip/snap at them. Therefore, I make sure he is kept away from children.  When we go to the dog park, I love watching him race around with Brookie and feel happy not having to worry about him.

I shouldn't say kids are never allowed in the dog park.  Sure, they can come with the dogs they bring.  And you know what?  The kids of the dog-owning parents either stay in the stroller or are told strictly not to chase or bother any of the dogs and if they want to pet a dog they must ask permission.  These types of parents are dog owners and thus respect dog behaviour.

Now here is were I get pissed off.  On several occasions, I have been at my dog park, around 4/5pm when it's nice outside therefore there are tons of dogs running around like mad, and seen parents, without dogs, allowing their very small child (around 2 years old) to toddle among the dogs.

They think it's cute to see their child chase the doggies.  Did they notice about 5 dogs left the park? Or that other dog owners are shooting them dirty looks?  Why would it be okay when I am picking up Brooklyn's poop and not looking, bring their toddler over to Mr. Mop without consulting me to let him 'pat' him?

No No No No!

Just like the playground without dogs, I don't want to be worried about my dogs, or their actions, when it comes to kids.

Here are more scenarios to ponder:  what if a child gets in the middle of three dogs wrestling? Or worse, fighting?  They get bitten and suddenly all dogs are put to sleep?  Or what if a toddler gets run over by the hyper-lab puppy and begins to cry?  Not only will he now be afraid of dogs, but it hurts to get trampled.  What if the paw cut up his face by accident?  What if a child reaches for a dog's toy, with the intention to throw it, but the dog doesn't know and snaps at the child because it seems to have stolen the toy?

These are all innocent things that not only can hurt child, but affect dogs and their owners.  I would feel awful if Mop ran a kid over.  And Mop has been that dog with the toy.  Luckily that parent was understanding.

All I am saying is that kids have their own parks.  In a city where playgrounds/green space outnumbers the dog parks, I don't know why we can't just be happily separate.  You don't see parents with kids and dogs letting their dogs run around the playground when their kid is playing, so why should we see dog parks with kids running all over them?

And you know what?  Not everyone thinks a kid with a dog is as adorable as the parents might think.  I don't expect everyone to love my dogs.  I think they are super cute, but not everyone agrees with me.  When I have kids, I know I will think they are awesome and say adorable things.  But I don't expect the general public to feel the same way.  So your toddler petting my dog is not as cute to me as it is to you.

On a similar note:  toys should also be examined at dog parks.  My dogs don't really care about balls or toys at the park.  But I have a friend who has a dog that LOVES chasing and getting the ball.  Does he know that the ball belongs to the standard poodle?  Nope.  Dogs don't understand ownership and sharing.

Most owners could care less if another dog takes their dog's toy.  But there are that odd few that take great offence when Mercury or any other ball-loving dog gets the ball.  Ummmm?  They don't know.  If you bring a ball to the park it's fair game.  You'll get your ball back. If the ball is that precious to you, maybe you shouldn't throw it at the dog park.  Also, some dogs are very possessive over their toys.  If you know this is the case, then when the dog park is busy perhaps let your dog play without their toy.   He'll play nicely and not start any fighting over the ball that another dog will want to play with as well.

God, I think only in Vancouver does the simplicity of a dog park get political.  And yet I can't get people to email the Mayor to get him to build a new art gallery.

Woof woof  - let's all exist in our own places and no one gets hurt!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Saying Yes To a Dress

I said yes to a dress!

And I said it at the place where every bride wants to say it:


Some people have not seen the program that I am referring to.  Apparently they live in caves. Or don't have cable.

Anyhoo, 'Say Yes to the Dress' is a program on TLC.  I can't embed it so you can get the link to see it HERE.

I first saw the show on one of TLC's marathons with my mum on Christmas Eve.  We got seriously addicted.  

So it's no wonder that when the Engineer popped the question, one of my first thoughts was "I can go to Kleinfelds to find a dress!!!!"  

I was in NYC for the Engineer's NYU graduation as was my future mother-in-law, sister-in-law/bridesmaid, and two of my bridesmaids. Perfect timing?  

Ummm, yes.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were super excited to go and it wasn't until afterwards that I discovered that they had no idea there was a show!  WOW - they were just excited to see me in wedding dresses!  Warm feeling inside.

Trying on dresses at Kleinfeld is exactly like the show.  In fact they were filming when we were there!  I was ushered into the room.  Okay, every room looks exactly the same but whatever, it was like I was on TV.  And just like on the show you sit in the room with the women you brought, tell your consultant what you want and she goes and gets the dresses.

The ladies in waiting were ushered to that grey couch you see on the show - behind the pedestal where I get to stand (like a princess.  It's the only time in one's life when one can stand on a pedestal.  Let me tell you:  I wish I could have a pedestal everyday).

Dress number one was similar to this number:

Personally, I love love love this dress.  It's glamourous, elegant and it has pockets.  The reaction on everyone was like, 'yes, it's nice' but not the crazy clapping fest I was hoping for.

Then came out dress number two.  Now, this is the dress that I have had in mind for ages.  It's basically the dress I was coming to try on.  On the hanger it didn't look like anything.

Then I put it on.  

And apparently I half danced and skipped to the pedestal - which was a sign to my friends that this might be the dress.  

The reaction?  All four girls, including my future mother-in-law went nutty.  Clapping, squealing and general excitement that really sealed the deal on this puppy.  

You'll have to wait until my wedding day to see what it looks like.  The Engineer reads my blog :)

So apparently this doesn't happen often.  A bride bringing in a photo of a dress and actually having it be the dress.

I tried to Skype my mum to show her.  But seeing as she is a 64-year old woman (who is very adept at internet things mind you) she couldn't figure out the right program to let Kleinfeld in.  Therefore, Joan - you know the manager who is on the show? - let me take a picture of the dress to show my mum!  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Okay, the dress was meh on the hanger but amazing on and I was sure it was it.  But that's it?  Two dresses and I know?  Helllooooooo I am at Kleinfeld!  I had to be sure that was the right dress so tried on another one:

The girls thought it was pretty but I didn't prance out like a little girl at a candy shop.  

And that's when you know it's your dress right?  When you run around like a lunatic.  

So I tried it on again just to be sure.  And again.  

Yup, it's the one.

Here's the thing about wedding dresses:  odds are many dresses are going to look gorgeous. I still love dress #1.  I love another dress I tried on in Vancouver.  But the chosen one suits my wedding the best.  It suits the place and my theme and pretty much everything to do with my wedding.  

It's just too bad I can't get married every year (to the Engineer of course!) so I could wear them all!

Because saying yes to a dress is just so much fun.