Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Bridesmaid Grows in Brooklyn

On the eve of my last day in New York city, I write this from my fire escape with a glass of chilled red wine (yes, that's right, I like red chilled) listening to the cicadas buzz.  I love how the breeze is cooling off this hot New York air.



It's not like I am leaving New York with my feet dug into the ground, but it's pretty close.  I mean how can I not?  It's New York.  And like Carrie says, it's fabulous.

Except she is talking about Manhattan and I am talking about that borough Brooklyn.  The one that used to be the 'hood' but is actually a treasure of tree-lined Brownstone streets, cool cafes, adorable boutiques and people so friendly you'd swear you were in the prairies.

I felt an instant connection to Brooklyn.  Manhattan took a few tries to get me hooked (which it did) but Brooklyn was instantaneous.  Maybe because it has all those Manhattan things we love to think of (above mentioned cafes and boutiques) complete with brick-exposed walls and yellow cabs - but on a much softer scale.  It's like the small-town version on Manhattan.

Manhattan can kick your ass.  After a day of pounding the pavement, it wears you out.  Busting your way through gawking tourists, waiting for the 'F' train in a stinking hot (and full) station, getting shoved around by impatient assholes.  Brooklyn offers an oasis of calm in a storm.  When I pop my head out at Bergen Street station I feel as though I have come . . . home.

So it's with great sadness that I leave this place.

I am more lucky that most. In the 18 months the Engineer spent at NYU, I was here for the better half.  Which doesn't seem like long at all.  Not long enough to feel at home.  Or call this home.

How come I feel like it's home then?

In those 9-10 months, I wandered both Brooklyn and Manhattan endlessly.  Usually by myself.  Sadly when the Engineer and I recounted our favourite memories from this place, rarely were they together.

That's just fine.  New York was mine to discover and play and wander and explore.

I found pickles to die for.  The best cupcakes in the world.  I got lost at museums that house world wonders.  I was present on Broadway for 'magic time' (what I refer to as 8:00 pm when the lights go on for countless plays, ballets, symphonies, comedies - it's amazing to think what magic happens at 8:00 across this town) countless times.  I spotted stars on the subway.  I discovered tea shops in back rooms that were once speakeasies.  I had picnics in the only graveyard on the island.  I saw the full moon on a crisp winter's night from a castle.  I skated on Rockefeller and hated it.  I claimed lawn space for an outdoor movie and had a pizza delivered to a park.  I listened to my favourite authors at bookstores.  I did yoga on a hammock.  I ate a real New York slice the New York way.  I found a love for restaurants with back gardens.  I became a regular at a deli.  I saw thunderstorms over the Statue of Liberty.  I walked in the footsteps of those that built this country.

I fell in love with this city, with the Engineer, and, as cheesy as this is, with myself.  I discovered so much about myself in these past two years.  The trials of a long-distance relationship, finally getting a job after years of dead-ends, becoming a bride, publishing articles for the first time, raising two dogs responsibly.  So much has happened since the Engineer came here.  We've evolved and changed - our outlook on life and our expectations are totally different.  I think this city had something to do with it.

I soaked up this city like a sponge.  And yet there are still countless restaurants to try (just walking down East 7th yesterday made me CRAZY for food!).  More museums to see.  Plays that open in the fall.  This city sleeps,  honestly it does, but never slumbers. I would say it takes cat naps.

Around every corner there is a new discovery.  I have never felt so inspired at my keyboard to write like I do here.  The possibilities are endless.

I mean isn't that what Frank Sinatra said?  If you can make it here, you'll make it anywhere.

It's true.  If you can't find your passion, your drive, the things that make you tick here - then New York has failed you.  There is so much drive in this city you can feel it pulsate.  Every day I talk to someone interesting.  From the lady across the street who wears her curlers when she walks her bulldog to the writer who spent time in the Peace Corps.

In this giant city where millions of people walk, play, run, work, dance, laugh, cry - I found a haven in 478 Warren Street, Brooklyn, New York.  A little area where I felt welcome from day one and have called home for two years.  A little piece of this great city that was mine.

Thank you New York.  It's been swell.

Dog Days of Summer

Due to a miscommunication with West Jet, I was forced to leave Brooklyn with my mum in Calgary and bring Mr. Mop by himself to New York.

When we first got here, Mop was listless and lethargic.  I assumed it was because he missed his little buddy.  I now know it is the heat.

I think he does miss Brookie though - he has no one's head to bite and no one to wrestle with.  And my oh my, he is sooooooooo well-behaved.  I am now forced to conclude that Brooklyn is the ringleader in their wacky behaviour.

My mum enjoys taking care of Brooklyn I think.  I mean, she'll complain that he gets up early or that he is being naughty, but I know she thoroughly enjoys his antics.

To prove this I would like to share some exerts from her emails.

Brooklyn is nicely settled in.  He's taking full advantage of the views from the balconies and the squirrel gazing in the back yard.  I move his bed outside so he can view them in comfort.  At night I put the bed on my bed and it is working very well.
The big black squirrel was up early this morning, munching on what looked like a peanut, on the fence right by the backdoor.  When B went out he must have found the peanut shell dropping, he sniffed them for ages before finally peeing on them.  He then found a fir cone, brought it in and attacked it.  I had just vacuumed the rug yesterday, so had to grab it before it was spread all over.
He also found a dead bee yesterday, which occupied him for ages till I discovered what he had and took it away.
He went with me to the Co-op to get gas, it's not self serve and the nice attendant gave him a treat.

This makes me laugh - the image of Brookie rolling around with a dead bee or a fir cone is hilarious.  Why does he choose to play with garbage and not his toys?  Is it because Mop usually takes them from him so he is now accustomed to dust bunnies and lint?  Sometimes he wakes up the morning and plays with himself until the rest of us get up.  In his little life I have found him playing with a deflated balloon, a wool pill from my sweater, foil from a wine bottle, and an empty chocolate bar wrapper.

B's ears are getting the drops and this morning I put the neck stuff on.  He's cottoned on REALLY FAST when I want to do something.  This morning we played the game of wait and try and trick her.  I put a cookie down near me and he kept trying to get it fast enough so I couldn't grab him.  It was a tie, but I did finally win.
He's smart, the second time he got a treat, he heard the crackle of the bag and came flying into the kitchen.
Those cookies have some cinnamon in them and I'm almost tempted to try one.

I don't have to explain why this one makes me laugh.

Brooklyn is now on the wake up at 6 30 cycle, oh joy.
Played cat and mouse with him for ages this morning, come and get the treat so I can grab you, on my part, and, how fast can I fool her with my amazing speed and dexterity on his part.
Needless to say, I won.  So his ears are getting the medicine.  I first wash his face and ears with a nice warm facecloth, that sends him into a state of obvious joy and doziness, then I do the drops and rub gently.
Since he likes it, I have no idea why he tries to avoid the necessary.

This one makes me laugh because I can not only picture Brooklyn lying on his back with his eyes closed and his teeth showing but my mum making little kissy noises in the voice she used to use when I was four and had the flu.

Can now sit, both in the back and in the front in comfort.
So after dinner, Brooklyn and I have been sitting in front watching amazing cloud formations, cats and other stuff.  He really likes the front verandah, lots to see, at least from his point of view.
HE LOVES THESE COOKIE TREATS.  I went to homesense today, but they were all gone.
I've put his bed on my bed.  Last night he was downstairs in it, and came up early in the morning.  He's now all snuggled up and asleep.  Watching squirrels has worn him out.

Right. Brooklyn likes the cloud formations.

Brookie just had a bath.  I used some VERY EXPENSIVE, EXCLUSIVE SHAMPOO on him, he was very good, and his ears seem to be guck free now.
He got a nice rubdown with a fluffy towel, then tore around the house for 10 mins at full tilt.
He's enjoying his brushing, now that he is almost dry, and sits there with a swoony look on his face.
Yesterday he spotted a waskilly wabbit, near the hydrant at the end of the street.  He gazed for several minutes then tried to attack.  He would have given the wabbit (who was his size) a good run for his money, except I held on tight.  So instead he had to content himself with sniffing the ground the wabbit was sitting on, which he seemed to really enjoy.
He's now snoozing on my fluffy blue shawl. he's becoming attached to it.

Funny on many levels.  The first being my mother referring to a rabbit as a 'wabbit'.  The second being that Brook gets super hyper when wet - after a bath he goes sort of mental.  I also enjoy him getting a rubdown with an oversized bath towel.  He's nine pounds.

It's not that I don't love him, but I think he needs Mr Mop around to bug. He's a little bored.
Today, after rising, as usual at 6ish, he was eating his brekkie near the doors in the family room, when Mr Squirrel descended down the fence.  They both stared at each other, eye to eye, for about a minute.  B finally gave chase, but my bag barrier (I don't know what this is) is holding and Mr S. got away.
I've put some dog food on top of the fence, hopefully this will provide entertainment later in the day for B.
He did have fun at Ron's (a farmer friend on my dad's).  We got him to run around alot, he got to eat some nice fresh grass, and he had his first meeting with Red Angus cattle.  It was quite funny, he was running along and then all of a sudden he realized that there were some big red shapes on the other side of the barbed wire fence.  He came to an abrupt halt, stared, then woofed at them.  Being curious creatures, they got up and headed closer to the fence.  B backed off a little, kept glancing round to see if we were there, we were, so then he let out some pretty feeble growls.
The cows kept watching, B got a little braver, took a step closer,growled a little louder, but then gave up.  So I guess he brought some excitement into their boring day, and they into his.

Brooklyn is a regular farmer Joe!  HA!

Mop has been having his own adventures - very much the tale of the Country Dog vs the City Dog.  Brooklyn met some cows, Mop met some pigeons at Central Park.  Mop has also become very good at riding the F train and enjoys Greenwich Village but hates Midtown.  He might even join me today for a veil fitting in the Meatpacking district.

I'll let you know how the reunion goes tomorrow night.  Should be cute.  And there should be lots of head biting.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Speaking of Art

I was at the MET the other day.  And last week.  And the week before that.

I am so in love with the MET.  If it were a person, the Engineer would have some pretty stiff competition. Luckily, it's just a really big building housing some of the world's greatest art, sculpture, artifacts, furniture . . . . the list literally goes on.

The only thing I am not so into at the MET are the mummies. I am not kidding, looking at mummies makes me sick.  I literally get nauseous.  It sort of makes sense.  They are, after all, decomposed bodies.

I also get the chills in the armoury.  Those men on the horses are so amazing.  Amazingly real that is.  Creepy crawlies thinking of being in a war with those things coming at you.

Anyhoo, the MET makes me really happy inside.  I decided just to check out my Impressionist friends.  I found it so inspiring - I plugged in my iPod, selected some classical music and really let myself get lost in the brushstrokes of genius.

I was also inspired watching people.  There was a little girl with her grandma and mum.  She wanted to see a Van Gogh closer.  It made me want to cry.  She is barely in school and recognized beauty.

There was another mother there with her sleeping toddler and daughter of about ten or eleven.  I may or may not have stalked them to get this fuzzy photo.  I am such a creep.  But I loved them!  The daughter would find a painting she liked then her mum would ask her questions.  What do you like?  How do you think he painted it?  What do you think it means?

HELLO?  AMAZING!!!!!  Asking questions like those to a child makes them aware of culture and the world on so many levels.  She may grow up to be a lawyer who loves art.  She's a killer in the courtroom because she asks the tough questions.  Then she uses her big pay cheque to support an artist on the Lower East Side.  Or maybe she is the next Georgia O'Keefe.

That is what makes art galleries exciting!

I also loved this duo.  A tattoo-covered biker dude with a shirt that says 'Up Yours' - who knew he had a thing for Serat?  His buddy flitted around the rooms (literally) practically jumping for joy when he could explain art to his friend.  It was pretty awesome/cute.

Then I happened upon 'American Woman'.




I  . . . don't . . .  have the words.

The MET has this temporary exhibit from the Brooklyn Museum and they have done an amazing job.  They take you from the Heiress and her star-embroidered, tiny waistline gowns through to suffragettes to glamorous 30's film stars.

I took some illegal photos but there is a great resource on the MET website as well as a fabulous video.

This was such a magical display I returned twice!  I loved watching the Suffragettes walk down New York streets on the amazing video the MET has.  I loved picking my favourite flapper dress.  The display was truly stunning.

Walking out of the museum I had an extra bounce to my step!  Well, how could one not after seeing amazing art and then stepping into Central Park?  The world looks like a bright and wonderful canvas after a day at the MET.

Just don't bring pickles from the LES like I did. The only reason the security guard let me keep them was because she knew the value of a Pickle Guy pickle.

Only in New York

The Importance of Being Art

During my last few weeks here in the Big Apple, I have taken myself to a few museums to really drench myself in culture and art.  I am happily saturated.

In Vancouver, I have been working on a project to raise awareness and convince Vancouverites that the city needs a new, purpose-built gallery.  About 90% of those to whom I speak are all for it.  But it's the annoying 10% that is really pissing me off.

Here are some fun facts about the VAG:

- it only holds 3% of its collection.  No museum showcases 100% but 3% is a bit ridiculous
- there is a permanent collection - in jail.  That's right, in the vaults below the gallery (which used to house prisoners - it was a courthouse after all) sit our Carrs and Group of Sevens.  The VAG rotates its' Carr permanent collection which doesn't enable tourists to guarantee a Carr sighting or for a Vancouverite to revisit a favourite painting years later
- 20 000 school kids were turned away last year due to lack of room to educate and inform
- there is no space dedicated to education for children or adults
- the vault/jail has leaks, mice, rats and pot smoke
- there is terrible security as the only doors to get art in are the same ones open to the general public
- those doors are too small to let larger exhibitions in
- the gallery is not climate controlled
- there is terrible handicap access
- if there was an earthquake the building would collapse straight down squishing not only art-lookers-atters but the art in the pot-smoke vault

The list goes on.  And as you see, it's all building related. There is nothing wrong with our art.

Working at the gallery has really made me open my eyes to art and its importance to society.

I can't help but wonder:  what would a world be like without art?

Let's just take the visual arts.  I don't know that my day-to-day life is directly affected by Monet and Renoir.

Or is it?

Take the beauty of emotions, feelings, statements, politics, history, religion, and more that artists transcribe on to blank canvas.  Isn't it possible to think that those watercolour strokes are the inspiration in how we choose the colour to paint our walls or how we place our furniture?

I mean, that's really a prosaic thing for art to inspire.  It's true though.

In a world with no art we have no concept of beauty.  Or what makes us feel. What inspires us.  Art belongs not just in the visual playing field -  but in our books, on our television, on our iPod.  Sure, Paris Hilton's BFF is not exactly the best example of 'art' on television - however, it is a statement to our times.  And that is what art is.

Okay, now I am on a tangent.  Back to my point.

I am so disappointed with Vancouverites and their response to a new building.  They are so attached to the current building (don't get me wrong - it's gorgeous.  But it isn't doing its job anymore.  Let it be a home for a new museum!) that they are unable to envision a future Vancouver.

Imagine a gallery on a rainy winters day.  You take the escalator to the top floor where Emily Carr paintings hang lavishly on the walls.  The room feels like you are in the very rain forests she painted - and with the tap-tap of raindrops on the window pane, her world suddenly becomes intensely real.

This is what art does.

A young teen asked me if we had a permanent collection wouldn't we get bored?


She hasn't travelled the world yet to discover the joy of revisiting a work of art time and again.

In order to appreciate and develop a relationship with art, one must be able to grow and mature along with it.

As an example, I have been going to the National in London since I was 19 in 1999.  There is a painting by Delaroche called 'The Execution of Lady Jane Grey'.

For whatever reason,  this painting has always fascinated me.  Her story has fascinated me. I can look at this painting and work through the emotions each person must be feeling.  I can transport myself to that room.

Fast forward ten years.  I have seen that painting on all my return trips to London.  Just this spring I popped in briefly simply to say 'hello'.

The Impressionists are the same for me.  Wherever I bump into them, I feel like I am meeting up with an old friend.  'Oh good afternoon Degas, lovely ballerina's today - I haven't seen this one before'.  OR, 'Monet - I love how you make sunset at Big Ben look the way sitting on Westminster Bridge makes me feel'.

This is what art does.

Art needs to reach people. From a young age preferably. I remember holidays with my parents - them dragging me to art galleries all over the world.  I was bored to tears mostly.  However it's clearly done some good.  I may have been bored, but I was still affected.

Art needs to reflect people.  The VAG isn't showing off its potential.  We do have world class art - BC style.  It's just locked up.

In fact we just acquired this Arthur Lismer in the spring.

Where is it?


I urge you to close your eyes and think about a Vancouver in 2030.  Next to the Queen E theatre and down the block from the library sits a beautiful building that reflects British Columbia as a place and people.  The outdoor sculpture garden is teeming with children who are learning to make their own sculptures.  Inside, a group of twenty-something aspiring artists share their sketches over hot tea and debate which medium is better:  oil or pencil.

You are there too, a bit older, and even more in love with art.  You smile as you pass the kids and the artists-to-be, on your way to visit your favourite painting.  You need a bit of a pick-me-up after too many rainy Sundays.  This painting always makes you smile.  It makes you think of golden summers and the way leaves smell when they start turning orange.  You remember seeing it for the first time with your mum, which reminds you to go visit her with some flowers.  You remember the time you came after you had your heart broken and how the quiet loveliness of the gallery soothed you.  You remember having a copy of it on your first apartment bedroom wall after university.  When all your furniture was hand-me-downs and you still tacked posters to the walls.  You remember bringing your daughter to see it for the first time and how she tried to make her own painting at home - on the kitchen door.  You were mad then but now you smile.  You've been through a lot, this painting and you.

Art makes memories.

Please please please take a minute to write to the mayor.  All the actions you can do to help are on this website.  Please remember that in the spirit of 2010 we have to work to make Vancouver as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An ode to Iced Coffee, Tea and basically all that is Iced

Have I mentioned the freaking heat in New York?


It's like descending into hell.  A hell that is like standing behind a bus and feeling the exhaust fumes on your skin and not having the bus pull away.

But it's New York so I love it.

I also love iced coffee.  OH GOD do I love iced coffee.  Every morning the lethargic Mop and I go for a walk to our local deli/grocery/coffee place Jessie's.  We both love the air con that hits us as we walk in, and we love even more, opening the freezer door to get our pre-cooled cup full of ice.

They know me as cream and one sugar - I plunk my money on the counter and happily suck back the cool caffeine as we make our way back home.  The coolness of the coffee lasts only so long and soon I am sweating again.

The other day it was so hot in the apartment that I took a very cold shower.  When getting ready, I ended up sweating so much I had to jump back in to rinse off!  I was trying to apply mascara (which is kept in the fridge) but my eyes were so sweaty it hurt.  I had a pool of sweat in my belly button!

I learned from Male Model not to apply lotion as I had been doing.  Makes sense.  You sweat so much your skin has no chance of getting dry.  I think it was the lotion that lead to me sliding out of the cab.

Now I just have to get ready in the bedroom where I can put the AC on full blast. Or just sit there in my underwear and let it cool me.  Apparently I am now Homer Simpson. I have also taken to pushing the bed in front of the AC at night.

I worry about my Starbucks bill on my VISA when I get home.  I pop in there at least once a day for a shaken black iced tea lemonade half sweet.  I drink it fast and then place the ice down my dress.

Mop hates the heat.  He is not the same dog.  I thought it was his separation from Brooklyn that had made him listless. Alas, on a recent trip to a cooled down Toronto, Mop was back in Mop/crazy animal form.  So Brooklyn is not the ringleader after all.  Mop is just that hot.

He is so hot he won't sleep with me.  I tried to hold him in front of the AC to get cooled down but he is afraid of the whirring noise.  Then I dunked him in a fountain at Central Park.  This only made him roll around in the dirt.  I try giving him cold baths but he hates water (clearly as the fountain trick didn't work).  I even got him a bandanna that you put in the freezer which supposedly cools off their necks.  Unfortunately it is sitting in my Vancouver freezer.

So it's hot.  You can't hang outside so you must trek to the lovely cool inside of museums like the Met.  Or go shopping. Or actually sit at Starbucks all day (I got so cold in their AC I had to order a tea latte).

We couldn't survive this heat if it weren't for the iced coffee.  Oh iced coffee/tea.  I love you.

Gosh, how did women in the 19th century deal in this heat?  I can't see Miss Astor spreading her legs and fanning up her skirt.

Um.  Not that I do that either . . . .

The Mortal and the Models

I have recently found myself in a friendship with a model.

A real, life, MODEL.

A male model.

One who is at least seven feet tall with mocha-cream skin and chiseled good looks.  He once posed as an alligator coming out of a lagoon and made it sexy.

Lucky for the Engineer, he is also a raging homosexual.  Is that offensive?

This said model is also in New York right now - except he has rented a two-floor apartment in Greenwich Village and I continue to live with a slanted floor and a cockroach named Mickey in Brooklyn.

First thing first:  this male model might also be the nicest person I have ever met.  Super genuine and sweet. Really down to earth (mostly).  He just happens to be uber gorgeous.

Models tend to hang out with other models.  So when he invited me to come over to his apartment for a wine and cheese night I should have either (a) said no thank you or (b) ran to the nearest salon for a blow-out and false eyelashes.

I did neither.  I showed up sweaty with Mr. Mop in tow.

Male Model was sharing the apartment with Female Model/Actress who is so pretty you can't take your eyes off of her. All willowy and big eyes.  You sort of want to hit her and kiss her at the same time.

And again, super nice.

Then came in two more models.  Then another.  Well, I don't know if they were all models but they looked like models.  I think I could grate cheese on all of their torsos.

I know I am cute. I am a pretty girl.  But I AM NOT A MODEL.

And nothing will make you feel less like a model than sitting in a Manhattan backyard with models.

#.  Their hair doesn't frizz in the crazy humidity.  Why?  WHY DOESN'T THEIR HAIR FRIZZ?  I have to pull mine up and back just to control it!!  Is there a secret model gene in their hair that makes it look effortlessly pretty and messy in that super annoying 'i just rolled out of bed' look??

#2.  They can eat and drink in a dainty way that suggests that they get to eat whatever they want and look hot while doing it. I dropped cheese on myself.

#3.  They don't seem to sweat or even get the teeniest glisten above their lip in the New York heat.  It's freaking 40 degrees Celcius!!  I have sweat dripping down my elbows, my cankles and between the roll of my belly button and hip.  I literally slid out of a cab the other day.  I am not lying.  I actually slid right out onto the NYC pavement.  Leaving a pool of sweat on the seat.  I am sooooooooo hot and not in the hot model way.

#4.  They all know how to pose for photographs.  I thought I posed well. I think I always look nice in photos.  But I am a trained sorority girl poser.  Chest out, mouth wide, head titled.  This is not  the way of Versace.  I was given a lesson in model pose.  Chest in, chin out and look as though you are in a shower.

Ummmmmm?  What?  All I have to say is when I am in the shower I am rubbing off last night's mascara and often have my mouth open.

#5.  They will make you realize that modeling is actually hard work.  See #4

#6.  They will be really nice that you can't hate them just because they are beautiful.

The lesson here?  Don't judge a model by their beauty.  Just don't take photographs with them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sushi Sarah

Writing about Tojo conjured up many a sushi memory.  Or Japanese memory.

Over the past ten years, Japanese food has played a particularly comical role in my life.

During my first year at university in Vancouver, a friend and I went to an all-you-can-eat sushi place on South Granville.  Confident after a meal with my sushi-ordering-pro cousin, I felt I too could order us the perfect amount of all you can eat sushi.

Can you guess the problem?

I mistook the # of rolls for the # of pieces.

Imagine:  you want six pieces of spicy tuna roll.  You put six down on the paper.  Your waitress looks at you like you are nuts, asks if you are sure, and you nod your head.  You roll your eyes when she walks away.  Am I sure?

Clearly not.

Six rolls of spicy tuna arrived.  Or about 20 pieces.  Maybe more.  As well as a plethora of California rolls, maki rolls, and an assortment of sashimi and nigiri.

My friend and I looked at each other with astonishment.  I nearly cried.

If you don't know, here is a fun fact about all-you-can-eat sushi:  you have to pay extra for what you don't eat.

On our student budgets, what we weren't going to eat was like $50 worth of raw fish.

What to do?  Wrap sushi in napkins and deposit the sushi in the bathroom, in our purses, wherever - I think we almost put it down our shirts.


I am much better at ordering sushi now :)

There was then the time I had sushi in Japan.  I was in northern Japan playing an alien in a Japanese play.  Our director, although crazy and chauvinistic, loved to spoil us.  He took us to the #2 sushi restaurant in all of Japan.  Japanese are a modest people - no one wants to take the #1 spot.

It was probably, and will forever be, the most incredible sushi I have ever tasted.  I mean, they grated the wasabi fresh in front of us.  Pretty spectacular.  It was the meal that I discovered toro or tuna belly.  They seared it every so slightly and it literally melted in my mouth.  I also learned not to drench my sashimi in soy sauce.

The deliciousness of the meal is not the reason for its memorability.  It's this.

During the course of the evening we were served a tiny bowl with a lid. I opened the lid to find a yellowish broth with a floating white ball.

A rule in Japan is to eat first, ask later.  Therefore I sipped at the broth and took a brave bite of the white thing.

I had stupidly assumed it was some sort of tofu.

Once it slid down my throat, I knew it was most definitely not tofu.

I asked my friend to translate what it was and he typed something in to his handy little Japanese/English translator. He showed me the word:

Blowfish Sperm

Clearly he must be mistaken.

I asked him to type it again.

Blowfish Sperm.

So many questions were running though my head:  how do you cultivate blowfish sperm, how do you cook it and more importantly - WHY DO YOU EAT IT????

I casually informed the other Canadian girl what it was.  She winced and delicately spit it back into her bowl.

We threw out the 'ask later' rule that night.

On that same journey to Japan, we became very sick of Japanese food quite quickly.  After the amazing sushi meal, we were treated to several more rounds of sashimi.  Which in great quantities soon diminishes in flavour and texture.

There comes a time when one can no longer swallow raw fish meat.

Especially on an evening when you are presented with Whale sashimi. From an endangered whale no less.  The hosts proudly informed me that only 60 of these whales still swam in the ocean.


So not only was I eating an endangered species, but it was a species that was fatty and oily.  I gagged a bit.  I think I actually threw up in my mouth.

After our 'meal', my other Canadian friend and I sought out Mos Burger.  The Japanese equivalent to McDonald's.  We were in desperate need of cooked flesh and french fries.  There seemed to be no hope, until I spotted the tell-tale red sign about a kilometre away.

I have never run so fast in my life.

We sprinted as if we were in an Olympic race.

And we ordered two burgers each, three packs of fries and gigantic milkshakes.

Sushi may be delightful but nothing can replace a good old-fashioned cheeseburger.

Tojo Is Too Good

As a concept, sushi seems like the most disgusting thing in the world.

Raw fish.  Fish eggs on top of raw fish.  All wrapped in seaweed?  

Really.  I feel this is the most unappetizing sounding food EVER.

And yet, it's oh so tasty.

If you are a Vancouverite, you can hardly walk down a street without at least one sushi restaurant (or Starbucks).  We grab sushi on the go, eat all we can eat for $20, or, if we are really lucky, go to Tojo's.

Lucky because this stuff ain't cheap.

Now I know why.

My friend and I participated in an Edible BC Tojo party.  Have I told you how much I love Edible BC?  I just love the passion Eric Pateman has for local ingredients, chefs, and people in general.  He is perhaps one of the most lovely owner of a business I have ever met.  He's built a successful company by being . . . . nice.  Wow, what a concept.

Anyhoo, this evening was to raise money for the YWCA (who give hot meals to women and children in the east side) and I'll drink sake to that!

The party was held at the back of Granville Island - right on the water, under the Granville Bridge while the sunset of Vancouver's glass making the city turn that glowing amber I love so much. Times like this night make me really love Vancouver.  

We were greeted and shown to the all-you-could drink wine, or sake or beer or  gin martinis.  ALL of which are locally made!  Who knew they made sake on Granville Island??

The toast of the evening however, was Tojo.  

First of all, he is adorable.  He's a Japanese hobbit.  I think he maybe stands at 4'9'' and is so cheerful and happy.  He's also hilarious.  I held out my plate to gather some of his sushi and he piled it himself claiming:  'eat this, you like this, more of this, eat eat'.  

Eat we did.




It has possibly ruined the $20 all-you-can eat sushi for life.   

I haven't had sushi melt in my mouth like this since Sapporo and my authentic Japanese sushi that I suspect costed more than a month's rent (and holy crap it was good - except for the blowfish balls but that is another story).

The sushi was wrapped in tofu skin which I LOVED.  The roe was HUGE - pearl size - and it popped in my mouth.  Which sounds a bit gross but it was INCREDIBLE.

His spicy tuna roll?  I  . . . . don't . . . . even . . . . . have words.  It was just so . . . . .

Like really really good.

The whole evening was good.

A good friend, peaceful ambient music, food lovers, interesting people, the sun setting on glass city, tasty delicious food = happiness.

Just when I am bored on Vancouver I uncover a slice of loveliness.

The Writer Returns

Okay, okay.  I have been a terrible blogger of late.

You know, life, moving, work  . . . . . it sort of got in the way.  But that is no excuse!

So this is to let you know I am back and ready to blog!