It’s already past the midway point of February! What the what?
I had (what I had originally thought were) fairly realistic plans to get some Date Night blog posts done to coincide with Valentine’s day; but in the way of things, work and life got busy, and I need to sleep. But I realized that posting after what I know some call a ‘Hallmark holiday’ works better.
My friend and fellow blogger, Orla (from travelorlabout.com and the blog pod I belong to) and I have been talking about doing some collab stuff and I thought this time of year would be the perfect. She and her guy, Jack, are away from their families this year (as is The Brit), and I wanted to make sure they had some Christmas cheer. So we bundled up earlier in December to brave the drizzle and had a hygge double date at one of my favourite places to visit during the holiday season: VanDusen Gardens’ Festival of Lights (open until Jan 7 if you haven’t been yet!)
The Brit recently sent me a link to a Time Magazine clip that was on their Facebook page about hygge. It sums up hygge really nicely as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” A great example of this is when I go to cook and eat with my friend Karen. It’s also how I feel when the Brit and are at home or off on an adventure.
When we went to the Sunshine Coast in October, we stayed in Gibsons for a night on our way back home from Powell River. We had a cute Airbnb booked and had plans go into ‘downtown’ Gibsons for a date night of dinner and a #pintandaflight at one of the craft breweries the town is known for.
But then we got to our Airbnb and the view was PHENOMENAL. Our Airbnb host must have thought we were simpletons with how dumbstruck we were by the property, the hot tub, and the kick-ass view. I remember looking at the Brit and saying “Let’s just order takeout and stay here.” and he said “I was just going to say the same thing!”
We had just come from Powell River and visiting Townsite Brewing, so we were all set for refreshments. So we had a date night ‘in’ instead of a date night ‘out’ and it was wonderful. We ordered a pizza and sat on the swinging chair, watching a sunny evening turn into a stunning sunset over the water. (Who doesn’t love a fiery coloured sunset??) You couldn’t not take take a hundred pictures, so we did and then we settled with our Townsite brews.
I’m so glad we took the opportunity to appreciate our surroundings and just be together and present. It was a very hygge evening and the perfect date night.
Thank you to our hosts for having such a lovely place for us to have stayed! It was beautiful.
What’s your favourite date night in? Have your plans ever changed and become the best evening, ever?
“The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire.”
Summer is officially here. Finally. It’s me, SPF 30, my UPF 50 hat, and whatever pair of flip flops strike my fancy that particular day to go to/from work. I’m cycling through my many sundresses and Sean is officially in shorts every day. We can open our newly screened windows and patio door all day long. It’s great.
It also means that practical activities like cleaning the house or doing a Pilates DVD become slightly more arduous. There’s a saying that I can’t remember where I first heard but it’s “horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies glow”. Despite open windows and a fan, I was definitely glowing last Sunday after both activities. But I will take glowing over goosebumps any day.
As I type this, I recall some cloud on my way home this evening and the weather forecast calling for thunderstorms. But it will still be hot, well muggy. Still better than goosebumps.
I was promised an evening out – yay date night! – and so we took the train to Commercial Drive to stroll around one of the best areas in Vancouver for all kinds of cool restaurants, funky shops, and casual vibe. It was nice out, I had a handsome date, and he was taking me for southern BBQ. What more could a girl ask for?
(When we first started dating, Sean made me a spectacular cedar planked salmon dinner and quickly learned that one of the ways to my heart was with good food – cooked at home or eaten out.)
After our sunny evening stroll along “The Drive” we circled back to Memphis Blues BBQ for my inaugural visit. This place is another reason why I don’t think I could ever be a true vegetarian or vegan. But because I genuinely enjoy most greens, my first question to Sean on the train was if they do vegetables at all. He didn’t think so but turns out they do salads, so this girl was a happy camper.
Who wouldn’t have been? You walk in to shiny wood tables and chairs, and bluesy and Memphis type memorabilia all over the wall. There’s a small statue of a pig dressed like Elvis standing hip-shot guard of the beer taps. They give you a table, you order at the counter, and they bring you fantastic things to eat. Like cornbread. I love cornbread. As I was quite hungry – I did clean the house and do a Pilates video after all – I inhaled my first piece. The fact that I only had three piece was demonstrative of great self-control. I could have eaten an entire side order of corn bread to myself. It was that tasty.
The tables are outfitted with all the appropriate condiments, and most importantly with stands sporting jumbo rolls of paper towel – of which you need a lot of. No fancy linens here. Can you imagine the laundry costs?!?
Though I’m not really a beer girl I do love a good, dark stout – and from the tap, I was poured (Drawn? Pulled?) a Russell Beer (local BC brewer) Angry Scotch Ale. Contrary to its name, it made me happy, and miss Edinburgh a “wee” bit. (Actually, a lot.)
And then the corn bread came. Did I mention how much I love cornbread? The last time I made cornbread it was fairly flat, due to the longer baking pan I used. It tasted really good, but was missing something. And that was actual corn. Now that I’ve had the Memphis Blues version, I will never use just cornmeal ever again. The actual corn makes this lovely texture difference. So good. Need that recipe.
(I have family through my cousin’s husband who live in Louisiana, and one day we will get down there for American Thanksgiving or a general visit, and I cannot wait to show them how much cornbread this little white girl can eat.)
Sean ordered a brisket and rib platter. I’m not really a fan of brisket but what I tasted was very good. Now, the ribs? They were awesome. The platter normally comes with coleslaw or potato salad, but those have mayonnaise and Sean has this strange aversion to it. But really, would there have been room on the platter??
I ordered the pulled pork salad. One word: YUM. Leafy greens, tender pulled pork, extra sauce, and more cornbread. Be still my heart…
As you might imagine, this was a lot of food. So we decided to possibly have dessert when we got home. It didn’t happen.
Our lovely friends from Scotland are coming to visit in September and this has been added to the growing list of places to bring them for dinner and a couple pints of Angry Scotch Ale.
In other happenings, I’ve recently become a tentative Twitter person (@W_CoastCityGirl) and I tweeted my photo of the Angry Scotch Ale while we were at Memphis Blues. The next day, I got a response back and a re-tweet from @MemphisBBQHQ, and through that, I made friends with @Russell_Beer. Since I’m new to the Twitter-verse, this was kinda cool for me. I’m a geek, I know.
Friday was a beautiful, hot, sunny Vancouver day. So, as one does when this weather appears, we went and sat on a patio (specifically, Cardero’s – 1583 Coal Harbour Quay) overlooking the water and had a couple drinks and appies with friends. Vancouverites were happy campers on Friday evening.
We were even happier campers when Katie and Tom brought us into our old neighbourhood, the West End, for a fantastic Italian meal at an aptly named place called Nook (781 Denman Street, Vancouver). Nook was not open when we lived down there, otherwise, we would have eaten there all the time. We were joined by another friend, Sally, and the five us us ate and drank Italian. We had the best time. It’s a reasonably priced restaurant, with a great vibe and awesome food and wine.
When you arrive at Nook, the first thing you notice is that it sits about 30 people. Maybe. And then you see the chalkboard listing the feature wines and where you write your name and party size. (No reservations.) And then, you wait. Wait time varies and depends on what table is finishing and there is always a small line outside. (If you were a party of 4-6 people, you hated us by the window, because from arrival, wait, ordering, ingesting, and talking, we were there for just over four hours.)
It’s worth the wait, though. While you wait, Brad (who I believe owns the place), will come and see how you are and bring out some samples. If you are over the threshold (liquor laws, very important) you wait with your glass of red or bottle of Peroni in hand. Katie and Tom frequent this place quite often, so they were recognized and we were treated quite well. This is not saying that we wouldn’t have been otherwise. Brad’s a cool dude and a great host, but regulars offer a familiarity (and in our case that night, they also get complimentary dessert wine).
Sometimes you get sat at the bar, and get to watch the bartender mix and some of the food get made. Other times you luck out and get a cozy table. And then you order food and wine, have great conversation; nothing else matters.
My trusty little Canon was at home, so I had to make do with my iPhone camera.
Brad was always on hand to make sure our glasses and plates were full. The evening started with a lovely wine from the Campania region (which reminded me that for my own sanity and peace of mind, I needed to finish the Napoli Diaries at some point very soon…) called Aglianica Terradora. Divine.
First up, obviously, were the appies. I’m a big greens person, so I was the only one who wanted the salad, but I must tell you, it was awesome: greens, walnuts, chick peas, a bit of onion – all drizzled with some olive oil and sprinkled with a tasty pecorino cheese. YUM.
While I was mostly alone in eating the salad, we all ate the special on the board, burrata – mozzarella wrapped in a shell of mozzarella, served with my capital “F” favourite prosciutto on a crusty piece of bread – and the salami antipasto plate. (The likelihood of my ever becoming a vegetarian is very, very slim.)
And then, there was pizza. While not made in a wood fire stove like in Napoli, this pizza was a close second to those wood-fired pizzas. Absolutely delicious. It was noisy, so I didn’t hear all the ingredients of the special pizza (top right), but I was all for ordering it because the part that I did hear was that instead of regular red sauce, it was a puree of cream and onion – hello! There was some meat, cheese, and basil, but the sauce made that pizza. Big thumbs up.
We also ordered the ricotta pizza (with roasted tomatoes, olives, onions, and garlic) and the prosciutto pizza (with arugula, roasted garlic, and red sauce).
By this point, it was time for more vino. This time a fabulous Tuscan Chianti.
When it came time for dessert, I was all about having some chocolate. They don’t list the desserts on the menu, but on the chalkboard way at the back – my eyes could not see that far in the dim light. So, while I do not remember what my dessert was called (something pretty and Italian), I can say that it was fabulous. It was a layered creation with a base of dense dark chocolate mousse flavoured with a dash of salt (Have you ever had salted chocolate? Try it. Lindt does a salted dark chocolate bar. Good starting point.), a frothy flavoured whipped mousse as the first layer, topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Be still my heart.
Sean, Tom, and Sally each had ice cream with espresso poured over top. Decaf for Sally, regular espresso for the boys. I’m not a coffee person so I did not appreciate my taste of Sean’s dessert. But he enjoyed it, and that is what matters.
Katie had tiramisu, which was served slightly differently than is typical. While i did not appreciate the coffee’d up ice cream, the subtle coffee flavour is what makes tiramisu very good.
And then Brad came along and said “Limoncello, anybody?”. What do you think our answer was? He gave us the standard pour, but then saw that there was a minimal amount left in the bottle. And so our glasses were topped up and an empty bottle left with us to admire and be reminded that this tart and tasty liqueur is 32% and consists of water, sugar, alcohol, and lemon rind. Ah, Italy. Personally, I like the crema version of limoncello a bit better, but this stuff was quite nice – straight from Amalfi. We like Brad.
And because Brad likes us, he brought us some complimentary dessert wine. Oh dear…
It was a really nice Friday night out with friends. Thanks, Katie and Tom for introducing us to a great place!