Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Upcoming Events - CanThrill CD release and guest DJ

Well, I am going to use my blog to unashamedly promote an upcoming special event. My friend DJ Curious J, whom I know through my very good friend L, is coming from Chicago to spin at Lobby's CD release from Vancouver's own DJ Christian Alvarez. Organized by CanThrill and Jens' team, this promises to be a super event. Friday April 27th, 2007 @ Ginger 62... be there or be square.

Restaurant review - Zesty's

Wow, Commercial Drive... lots of really great restaurants, very few bars (albeit I didn't go south of Broadway - I actually walked in the north direction), wonderful people and a sunny day... what else would you want?

Well, I'd want some service with that, please... I ended up going to a large 'Canadian cuisine' restaurant on Commercial near Venables. Called Zesty's, I can assure you the only thing it didn't have was 'zest'. The service was horrible. The drinks were ok, but I wouldn't have stayed for dinner. The waitress had not an ounce of customer service in her.

Next time I want to roam Commercial Drive I will make sure to check Haremba or the Abbibi Cafe, or Havana, or Memphis Blues... but I am definitely not going back to Zesty's, not even on account of their inexpensive drinks.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Quick general update

I've been super sick (sniffles, coughs and sore throat, general congestion) for the past week and a half or so, thus I've not been really in the mood to blog. Moreover, even though I did venture out for a very brief couple of social nights (one of them rather important since H is gone for six weeks and it was his birthday celebration), we did repeat restaurants (Water Street Cafe, reliably good for dinner with H, K, and M). So since I already reviewed those I didn't want to do a re-review :) (although I had a really nice time!)...

I managed to correct a couple of my posts and Google Personalized Homepage shows them as recent but they are not, so if you've been tricked into believing that I've been posting, no, I haven't. I still have an Earth Day posting in the works... So, slowly but surely, I'll be uploading my delayed posts. All I need is to get better soon :)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Complete and absolute random thought - Sailor Moon

If you happen to have children (or nieces, like in my case) I am sure you've watched Sailor Moon at some point in your lives. My nieces used to love this show and I sat down a few times to watch it with them.

One of my best friends and I always used to make fun of the extra long time it took Serena to transform into Sailor Moon (as though the villain is going to be waiting there, patiently ... "ok, I know you need to transform into Sailor Moon, I'll just sit here and twiddle my thumbs... oh, ok... you're ready to fight now? Oh, ok... give me a minute, I'll be right there with you...")

This one was by and large my favorite transformation. That being said, it still takes Sailor Moon a long time... but whatever, the villains always were kind enough to wait for her...

Completely random thought in the middle of a productive night.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Music Review - Time is Running Out by Muse

I first had an encounter with Muse about three years ago, when my former building-mate (someone who lived in the same building as I did) played this song at a gig in Vancouver. The lead singer was a female, though. I was curious about this song since I felt some dark tones (a-la Smiths' How Soon is Now?) that I thought were worth exploring. Very hard rock-ey, yet experimental in some ways... I really like this tune... worth exploring I think.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Music Review - Pick Up The Pieces by Candy Dulfer

The first version of Pick Up the Pieces I ever heard was that of Average White Band. I used to own three or more MP3 versions of this song, but I had never heard of Candy Dulfer. Dulfer is a saxophonist who happens to be also absolutely gorgeous. The version I found with her is quite 'acid jazzy', funky, upbeat...

The only downside I find is that there's a female singer who screams (and apparently it's supposed to be funny/melodious?) a few times during the song. But overall is a niece piece if you're into funk. I managed to find more Candy Dulfer songs (including 'Lily Was Here'), so hope you enjoy both!

Lili Was Here video below.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Most butchered karaoke song - Love Shack by the B-52's

I love karaoke. Singing is not my forte but I try my best. However, I've discovered that there is a whole world out there filled with people who are intent on butchering one of the best songs I've heard in my entire life - Love Shack by the B-52's. I am happy to report I am not one of those!

Funky, upbeat, exhilarating and filled with energy, this song is also apparently in the repertoire of hundreds of singer-wannabes. I dare you to go online on YouTube and find a good karaoke version.

For those of you who actually enjoy listening to the original one, instead of suffering through the myriad samples of horrid interpretations, here is a video link. This is from their 2000 induction to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

-- update - I take that back. I found a version a capella that is actually worth listening to. You can find it on YouTube using the keywords "Love Shack".

Friendships (lost and rekindled)

The only drawback of a photographic memory is that there are few details that people tend to forget. I am always very good with birthdays. That's actually not always good. One of my former best friends celebrated his birthday a couple of weeks ago. I did not even send an email because we parted ways in very bitter terms and we currently do not speak to each other. For the record, I was not the one who distanced himself.

Ironically enough, I recently came across the song shown below, Como Hemos Cambiado by the Spaniard group Presuntos Implicados. This song (very beautiful indeed) talks about friendships and how people can change through time, and how people can forget about the importance of keeping their friends close. A lot of our common friends used to associate both myself and my former friend with this song.

Through time, I've always been the one to bend the old rule "fool me once, shame on you -- fool me twice, shame on me". Whenever I had disagreements with my friends, I almost always used to be the one always calling the other party. After almost two decades, I am now at the point where I am not always the one trying to mend the broken relationship. But truth be told, I'll always have a place in my heart for this former friend of mine. So here is to former friendships... and to rekindled ones!

Friday, April 13, 2007


I was feeling a bit nostalgic tonight (for several reasons... dear friends in town whose life has been changing in the past few months, spending time with other friends with whom I had lost touch due to a past heartbreak, and trying to finish a lot of work and projects) so instead of spending my Friday night relaxing and taking it easy, I am home and working. But I also was looking at some tidbits of 70s and 80s TV shows. Here are a few of my favorites (note the fantastic music of each one of these TV shows intro's).

Spiderman (TV Show)

The Gemini Man (TV Show)

Hart to Hart (TV Show)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Music review - This Love - Cocteau Twins (Elizabeth Fraser/Craig Armstrong)

I usually hesitate to post music reviews since I am not really a music junkie. I love different styles and have quite a broad variety of music. Nevertheless, I don't think I'm an expert. But I do know what I like. I would say that the Scottish band Cocteau Twins was a much welcome addition to my collection. While I first heard one of their tunes when I was 'oh so totally in love', I ended up gelling so well with their music that it doesn't bring any bad memories.

The tune I'm including here is perhaps best known as one of the songs in the soundtrack for the movie "Cruel Intentions" with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Selma Blair, Reese Whitherspoon and Ryan Philippe. The soundtrack credits only mention Elizabeth Fraser and Craig Armstrong but the sound is very much along the lines of CT.

A funny tidbit many of you may or may not know... Liz was famous for singing in some form of "gibberish"(but meant in a good way!)... and the Cocteau Twins capitalized on that unique characteristic of their lead singer. If you like this type of chill-out music, you may find Slowdive, Monster Movie, Weathertunes, and Enya quite appealing.

UPDATE.- I made a mistake. The title of the posting didn't coincide with the actual video I uploaded (which is indeed "This Love")... it's been fixed.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Restaurant review - Dockside Restaurant

Located on Granville Island, the Dockside Restaurant is one of the nicest places you can find for dinner (or drinks). Directly located beside the waterfront (hence the name), you can look over Science World, Yaletown and False Creek all without having to leave your seat. The Dockside Restaurant is part of the Granville Island Hotel.

The food is really good and the service is super attentive. I had stuffed the Chevre and Apricot free range chicken breast, which was unbelievably tasty. I saw a few other items with meat, fish but no full vegetarian option. My dinner did have cheese (a tiny bit) but I survived because the food was so good. The pricing is fairly upscale from the last time I remember ($24-$30 for main courses) and they completely got rid of their pastas but their menu is fairly good, so no reason to complain. Worth visiting if you have a special occasion.

Dockside in Vancouver

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Restaurant review - The Whip Gallery

I find it fascinating that a perfect example of the transformation of industrial land into urban/residential use is located so close to my house. The Mount Pleasant area used to be quite industrial. There are a few industrial buildings remaining (one of them used to be a candy factory and then became a brewery?!). At any rate, the building where The Whip is located I am guessing used to be another factory. It has that 'industrial flavor' to it. The building is fully red (for starters, that's kind of odd -- but I digress). And yes, the decor has lots of art (presumably local artists). This neighborhood tends to house lots of funky artists, I must say.

Given its location (6th and Main, but on the 200 block of 6th Avenue), I wasn't really expecting a restaurant. Funny how it works, according to several reviews that I have read online, it is an art gallery too. I fully thought it was a bar (a sports bar, for that matter) the first time I walked by. But now I think that this is a hipster place. I had a long conversation with H about the concept of hipster... non-conformist but all-conforming in their own non-conformity. Complicated enough? Think of scruffy beards, shaggy hair, wicked t-shirts, baggy jeans, aloofness and "I don't really care what you think of me but you should think I am super cool" kind of attitude. That's what transpired around us when we went to The Whip.

I found other Vancouver bloggers' reviews of the Whip and apparently this place used to be different. I didn't know The Whip before so I have no counterfactual. I found the pecan pie was really good and their beer was definitely drinkable. The waitress wanted perhaps to give an image of aloofness, but I managed to make her crack a smile (she was beautiful by the way).

However, as H would say, the atmosphere is hipster, the menu is not. The menu actually looks and reads a bit too upscale (a lot of martinis for $7.50 apiece, a few dinner items). Actually I found the pecan pie portions very small compared to when I go to an actual dessert place but it was a nice touch. I had never had pie with beer, and it turned out ok.

From the reviews I have read, this is the favorite gathering place of a group of Vancouver bloggers. I am not sure I might be crashing their party any time soon considering that I am a total non-techie and non-geek, so my blogging is at its very early stages. But it's nice to know that if I want to meet a group of Vancouver bloggers, I can always walk down to the Whip when they have their gatherings.

Whip Gallery in Vancouver

Restaurant review - Fassil

For those of us who are fascinated with geographical concentration, Fassil and The Red Sea Cafe offer an interesting phenomenon. The Ethiopian community seems to gravitate around these two restaurants, located basically within one block of each other. I had already eaten at The Red Sea Cafe (amazing food) and since H was interested in trying some Ethiopian we decided to go to Fassil. Located in the 700 block of East Broadway (near Fraser), it is a little spot that you could easily overlook if you don't have the address with you.

The food was amazing and the atmosphere was really nice, clean, comforting. Contrary to the Red Sea Cafe (which has a more subdued atmosphere with darker lighting), Fassil offers much more light and it makes a big difference when you are able to appreciate (visually) the dishes you are being offered. We ordered two meat dishes (wot) and a vegetarian combo and that was more than enough food for two people. Their injera is fluffy and perhaps a tiny bit less sour than The Red Sea Cafe's (whose owner dropped by Fassil the same night we were dining there!) but I like it that way. Their wots are not as spicy (but then again, we asked them to prepare them mild)

Since both places have their own specials and their own dishes, I would not want to rank one above the other, so I would recommend that you go for dinner to both of them (one each night, of course!) and decide for yourselves. The place is fully licensed and offers many vegetarian dishes. They take all credit cards, debit and cash... quite convenient!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Hot upcoming event - Miguel Migs, Lisa Shaw, Marques Wyatt

For those of us who are deep house lovers, this event is a "must attend". Miguel Migs is one of the best house DJs of our generation. He is well known for his numerous deep-house tunes. Among my favorites - Secrets.

I found the promotional video for his upcoming gig at The Commodore (downtown Vancouver). He will be joined by awesome singer Lisa Shaw and fellow DJ Marques Wyatt. The even will take place on Easter Weekend (note that the event takes place on Saturday April 7th, 2007 rather than Sunday - I thoroughly believed it was Sunday!) . The promotional video for this event shows last year's party to the tune of Andy Caldwell's "Don't You Love Me" in the Ronan's Disco Vocal mix (listen to a sample here). The video is shown below.

I found the website for the organizers, Blue Print Events. Tickets are $ 35 Canadian on Ticketmaster. I am tempted to go (VERY tempted, that is), even if only because I don't think I'll have another chance to see Miguel Migs, Lisa Shaw and Marques Wyatt in the same event. If you are in the area, I would encourage you to go (and full disclosure - I do not receive any money for promoting this event, I just found out through the great grapevine and thought I'd share it with my readers).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Coffee shop review - Cedar Cottage Coffee House

I had considered the possibility of starting a new line of reviews (work-places, those little cafes where we can sit down, relax, have a cup of tea or coffee and do work on our laptops). While there is a website that summarizes all the coffee shops in town with wireless access (Vancouver WiFi Mug), the purpose of my reviews was to provide an idea of where one could work.

So the first one is a coffee shop that I fell in love recently when out with S for a cup of tea. Located at 3728 Clark Drive (corner of Clark Drive and Kingsway), the Cedar Cottage Coffee House is a small coffee shop that serves some of the best tea and munchies I have had in a few years. Fully equipped with wireless, reading materials (please don't take the books or magazines!) and big windows, this little cafe is the definition of organic and friendly.

The staff is really nice and they will spoil you to no end. At least, S and I had a really good time when we were there for coffee. I haven't really worked there for a long period of time so I can't really assess that element, but it looks like a good place to work on the weekends (since I come into the office most weekdays).

Restaurant review - Shabusen

Ok, so I am a sushi lover. And I am a lover of all-you-can-eat sushi. Furthermore, I love the South Granville area (four of my very best friends happen to live all within a block of each other in this neighborhood). However, I am always wary of sushi places. I think everyone needs to have his/her own favorites, and I am now quite clear that there are some that will definitely not make my cut. Shabusen is one of them.

Don't get me wrong -- many people simply love Shabusen. For numerous Vancouverites, their definition of all-you-can-eat-sushi is heading to this place located at the corner of 14th Avenue and Granville Street. I will admit I'm one of the skeptics. For the quality of food I ate the last two times I went there (one of them with L and the other with B), I really would've gone elsewhere (Tanpopo, for example). It didn't help that their prices are relatively higher than any other places I have been to.

That being said, I am willing to give Shabusen another try - perhaps in a few months. For now, I'm going to steer clear. And some of my closest friends (Copper Lioness for example) agree with me that Shabusen is overrated. I still need to find a good sushi place in Vancouver that I'll be happy with (other than the 18 pieces and miso-soup cheap eateries on Cambie and Broadway!).

Shabusen Yakiniku House (Granville) in Vancouver

Restaurant review - Ouisi Bistro

Vancouver has lots of really good places for all sorts of ethnic food. When I lived in the South Granville area, I was completely shocked that I had a restaurant that served Creole food very close by. My friend T was the one who introduced me to Ouisi Bistro, a cute restaurant located on Granville I think between 14th and 16th Avenues (can't recall the exact location but you can use the link I provided to locate it with Google Maps).

Since I have a love for all things French (including the language), I thought it would be nice to spice up my life by having dinner at Ouisi. Their Creole cuisine is excellent (I would particularly recommend it for dinner -- I wasn't completely sold on their brunch menu). Creole (cajun) food is characterized by hot, spicy flavors. The jambalaya here is to die for (only rivaled by two other places as far as I am concerned - Cactus Club and The Fringe Cafe). I have also tried their sea-food chowder, amazing.

The prices for large plates aren't definitely higher (in the $ 20-25 price) but the portions are generous. You also have the option of smaller plates, which are enough for dinner and cheaper ($12-15). Moreover, the atmosphere is excellent, and the waiters really know how to narrow down your menu options so that you actually enjoy whatever you want. Definitely worth a visit.

Ouisi Bistro in Vancouver

Restaurant review - Cafe Barney (South Granville)

Cafe Barney is the epitome of reliability. D, I, A, H and I went for burgers and fries recently since we do know that we can find excellent fries and burgers at this place. Cafe Barney always deliver. I happen to know one of the staff members since a few years ago because I used to live in the neighborhood (now known as South Granville, though I think the technical term would be Fairview Slopes).

The strip between Broadway and 16th Avenue on Granville has usually been touted as one of the nicest shopping districts. However, you can also find reliable good food in this area. If you want to go for pricey (albeit excellent food), you can do Star Anise or West, or you can do cheap eats (Cafe Crepe, Cafe Barney) or somewhere in between (The Red Room).

Now, the fact that the burgers aren't expensive doesn't mean that Cafe Barney is some sort of cheap joint. On the contrary. The ambiance is great and the service is top-notch. Their burger and fries are to die for. Their pasta (penne with chorizo) is definitely not bad, although I would say that Cafe Barney has more of a reputation for their burgers.

I have had brunch here before and it is consistently reliable. Definitely one of the best places if you want to eat fries, scrambled eggs, chorizo, and of course... burgers! They seem to have a good variety of beer (I am clueless here as I don't drink beer). Their wine selection seems good albeit perhaps a bit pricey (their martinis seem a bit expensive too). But the rest of the food is quite affordable.

I would strongly endorse Cafe Barney for a night out :-) Beware that the music can be a little loud and the atmosphere is relaxed. I read elsewhere some critiques to the servers, but I can't agree. Any time I have been here the service has been really good. I am sorry to hear that other people have had bad experiences, but I've been to Cafe Barney enough times to actually say that it's been consistently good.

Dessert place review - True Confections (Denman)

Admittedly, whenever I go out for dinner I usually ask for dessert at the same place. I could have done this last time that I was downtown (Dining Out for Life), but instead H and I decided to walk around and ended up at a dessert place called "True Confections". This place gets packed because it is truly designed as a dessert/coffee/tea gathering venue.

I had a trifle for the first time in my life, and wow was it ever tasty! The prices are reasonable and the staff is friendly, although honestly speaking, you can really overdose on sugar. I don't like comparing among dessert places because really, their function is the same (provide you with a nice comfortable cozy spot where to share some time with friends over dessert). So, I'll just praise "True Confections". The location we went to was Denman and I think Barclay, but you can just the same go to Broadway and Alma and their desserts are just as good. Not overly expensive and definitely cozy.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Movie rental place review - Happy Bats Cinema

Going along with recent reviews of brunch places along the Main Street neighbourhood, I have neglected to publish a review of the Happy Bats Cinema movie rental store. I am all for 'organic', local business. Therefore, while I recognize the value of Rogers Video or Blockbusters, I'll probably want to rent a movie from my corner movie rental store.

Happy Bats Cinema is not only my corner movie rental store, it is a top-notch, unconventional place where the owners are real experts on the movies. They have foreign, cult, British, Japanese, horror movies, documentaries and if you really really need them, they also have the traditional flicks that we all need to see from time to time. They have the latest season of Alias too ;)

Located at 198 East 15th Avenue, Happy Bats Cinema is your choice for inexpensive, local, organic, specialized service if you want to rent a movie that really suits your interest. Very personalized service and rather friendly staff. Worth checking.

Restaurant review - The Nice Cafe

While this could be categorized as "cheap eats" (the food is really inexpensive), I think I'd like to call The Nice Cafe one of the two best brunch places I've been to recently (Rhizome and Crave being the other two). Surprisingly enough, all these three are located within 5-10 minutes walking distance, around Main Street.

H and I had talked about trying The Nice Cafe since a couple of weeks ago so we finally made it. The only down side - the wait in line can be substantial (20-30 minutes) if you arrive during peak time. But, there are several upsides.

First, the service is absolutely fantastic. Even though their place is packed and people keep ordering food, the staff will always have a smile in their faces and wish you "Good Day".

Second, the food is really good (did I mention inexpensive too?) - I had 'burger steak with eggs, hashbrown and toast' (burger steak AKA ground meat patty), and it was enough to fill me until 7 pm.

Third, the location is almost unbeatable. Hidden on East 8th Avenue and almost Main Street, The Nice Cafe is technically "off the road". However, you can still do a lot of shopping, art gallery viewing and walking around Main Street and you won't be bored. And if you need a mall, there's always Kingsgate Mall.

At the end of our meal, the lady who apparently owns the place came and talked to us and gave us pointers as to when to arrive next time (peak time 10am to 2 pm). Since my brain doesn't start functioning until after 10.30am, I doubt I can get there any earlier.

I would strongly recommend The Nice Cafe for anyone who would like to come visit East Vancouver (Main Street) if they live in Kitsilano/Point Grey/Fairview Slopes. To those friends of mine who muster the strength and face a long commute to come join me for brunch around my neck of the woods, thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart. You know who you are :)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Music review - Cool - Gwen Stefani

While this song has nothing to do with my romantic life, I absolutely loved the music and the way in which Gwen Stefani sings. Funny how it works, there is a Wikipedia entry discussing the tune. I have rarely seen this on Wikipedia. At any rate, the video is below, hope you like it.