Tag Archives: Vancouver

The Island of Simple Pleasures

Today starts out no different from any other day. I make a list of what I hope to accomplish and away we go. At the top of my list is buying a new diaper bag. I convince my husband to come with me. After about 30 minutes of deliberation and modeling every diaper bag they have in front of the full-length mirror (and thoroughly trying my husband’s patience) I finally settle on a JJ Cole 180 in lime green and steel gray.

As we sit in the car I check off one more item on my to-do list and start lecturing my husband on what we need to do next. He has other plans however. “Where are we going?” I ask him “this isn’t the way to the supermarket.” He gives me a furtive smile and says “I thought we’d go for a drive to False Creek.” I try to talk him out it, but that doesn’t work. We only have one more hour of babysitting left so I’m rather anxious to make productive use of our time.

We arrive at Granville Island and surprisingly find parking right away. I hear the seagulls overhead, making virtual trails in the afternoon haze. Aroused by the aroma of fresh baked bread our first stop is La Baguette & L’Echalote. After sampling various breads and pastries, we decide to share an extravagant pan au chocolat. We go outside and sit in the courtyard. I take the first bite. The flaky pastry gives way to dark oozing chocolate. For a minute or two I have completely forgotten about my to-do list. We are serenaded by the sultry sounds of Spanish guitar as a busker takes residence in front of us. A delivery truck pulls up behind us and as I turn my head the driver rolls up the back door. He’s delivering flowers to the market. He pulls out a crate of white lilies. Their delicate stems dance in the wind and the sweet intoxicating fragrance overwhelms my senses.

“We should go.” I say reluctantly looking over at my husband. He decides to take the long way home and we drive up Lamey’s Mill Road, a quiet residential street. Suddenly I shout “Stop!” and point. I see the most amazing view of downtown Vancouver. I have lived in this city for over 15 years but never seen it look more beautiful. As my eyes fill with tears I think to myself ‘Wow, I live here!’

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Filed under Food, Vancouver Is Beautiful

Greek Celebration at Northlands Bar and Grill

I LOVE Greek food. So you can imagine my delight when I was among the select group of people invited to the Kambolis family Greek Celebration at the Northlands Bar and Grill on Sunday.  If you recognize the Kambolis name, that’s because they own three highly acclaimed restaurants in Vancouver, Raincity Grill, Nu and C Restaurant.

As we ascended the staircase up to the restaurant, we were greeted by intoxicating aromas and a gregarious atmosphere.  The food was served buffet style under a tent. They had set up the tent on their rear patio (anticipating good weather no doubt) but unfortunately that day it was chilly and rained almost all day. Still I thought the tent with its’ blue and white awning was a good idea and gave an authentic ‘taverna’ feel to the event.

There were so many people jostling for food that I felt as if I was navigating my way through a heard of ravenous wilder-beast that had just seen an oasis. There was the staple Greek fare of course, including greek salad, dolmades, homous, spanakopita, tyropita (Greek cheese pie), assorted souvlaki and warm pita bread. They had also roasted a couple of whole lambs and pigs that morning. My husband (who is Greek) always tells me that the best part of a roasted animal is the crispy skin. Since I still find the thought of eating crispy skin unappetizing, I’m going to just take his word for it.

There were a couple of stand out dishes for me, first the succulent moussaka oozing with cheese and a decadent Béchamel sauce. I have become something of a moussaka connoisseur over the years, since I have never successfully made it from scratch at home (just ask my husband!).

I  also loved the warm comforting gigantes plaki, which is butter beans baked with fresh herbs in a tomato sauce  (it’s also delicious topped with feta cheese just before serving). I have scoured the internet and below are links to three of my favourite recipe variations of this dish – so you can try it at home.

Recipe #1: Gigantes Sto Fourno (Baked Butter Beans)

Recipe #2: Gigantes Plaki (Greek Baked Beans)

To accompany the food they had live bouzouki music (the bouzouki or bouzoukia as it is sometimes know, is a Greek stringed instrument with a long neck and a pear-shaped body) and with many people trying their hand at traditional Greek dancing. Not me of course, honestly you don’t want to see me dancing – remember the episode in Seinfeld where Elaine is dancing? You get the idea!

Greek food is irresistible because it is a reflection of its people – warm, vibrant and hospitable. The event was thoroughly enjoyable and lucky for me I have enough Greek family that I don’t have to wait too long before I have another opportunity to celebrate Greek style. OPA!

A note on the photographs – the first depicts our venue, you’ll notice golf carts parked outside and that’s because it’s situated on Northlands Golf Course. The second photo shows the gorgeous view we had from the patio.

Have you been to Greece or have a Greek food experience or recipe to share? Then I would love to hear from you – send me a comment.

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Filed under Events, Food

How to Be a Great Radio Guest: 3 Tips From My Time on the Radio

Narges Nirumvala in the RJ1200 studio with Ammen Dhillon and Avi Arya.

Earlier this afternoon I was a guest broadcaster and contributor on a local radio station, RJ1200. Billing themselves as Vancouver’s Bollywood Station, they cater to the young, hip members of the Vancouver’s  Indo-Canadian community. This is my fourth time on the radio in about six months as a guest broadcaster on their monthly discussion show. I’ve had so many people ask me what it’s like being on the radio, that I decided to write this blog post.

As I sat in the waiting room today, I thought back to my first time as a ‘radio virgin’. I was so nervous that day I must have gone to the ladies’ room at least three times – I’m sure the receptionist thought I was crazy! Today I just couldn’t wait to put the headset on, position my boom microphone and wait for us to go live. Here are three things I’ve learnt from being on the radio that will help you make the best possible impression:

  1. If it’s your first time on the radio just accept that you are going to be nervous. When that red light goes on and the host says “And we are live in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1” you are going to freak out a little and that’s okay. Just breath deeply and focus on what you want to say.
  2. Do research and deliver great content. Whether you are on the show because you are an expert in your field or like me, someone called upon to talk about a variety of issues – you need to come prepared and ready to impress. For me it’s no different from the research I do  when I write a feature article. It’s just that I’m speaking rather than writing.
  3. Commercial breaks are a great time to network with the host or other guests on the show, but not usually enough to go to the washroom (for my readers outside Canada, a washroom is a toilet or WC). So remember to go to the bathroom before the show. Also bring business cards with you and get to know the other people there with you. I’ve met some great people through my media exposure.

Being on the radio is an amazing opportunity, if you know how to tailor your communication style to suit the medium.

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Would YOU Eat Something Off the Floor of a Bus?

I take public transit on a fairly regular basis. Today I witnessed something so disgusting, that I decided I had to share it with the world. I’m sitting on the bus minding my own business when two young women jump on the bus at the last-minute. It’s rush hour, so of course there is nowhere to sit. So what do they do? Do they grab on to a support pole, no of course not – that would be too obvious. They decide to eat instead. Suddenly the bus lurches forward and their food goes hurtling through the air and lands on the floor of the bus. What happened next shook me to the very core; they bend down and pick the food. No, not to throw it away, but to EAT IT!!!!

Why would you eat something that fell on the floor of a bus? If you were homeless and starving then you probably would. Well these women were well-groomed, fashionably dressed and didn’t look homeless to me. Perhaps they thought the floor looked clean? Which do you think is more full of bacteria, the floor of a busy public bus or the floor of a public toilet? I’d say the bus, why? Because the toilet probably gets cleaned from time to time. But I don’t think anyone ever cleans a bus. Why couldn’t they just wait till they got to their destination? Or wait till a seat opens up?

Just writing this and reliving the memory is causing me to lose my appetite. Probably not a bad thing considering I’m not exactly on the skinny side! Do you have any gross eating stories to share? Then let me know in the comments area.

Photo courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under Food, Public Transit

Why I am Already Sick of the Olympics!

I know this isn’t going to sound very politically correct, but I am so over the Olympics and it hasn’t even begun yet! Let me explain why. Every time I switch on the TV I see the same schmaltzy commercial with throngs of waving happy children all dutifully wearing their red Olympic mittens brainwashing me to ‘believe’. Every newspaper I pickup ends up regurgitating the same press releases that VANOC sends out. There must be more news out there, but all we ever seem to hear about is the Olympics. I appreciate that with the proroguing of parliament there isn’t a heck of a lot of work going on at the federal level (by the way are we paying our MPs during this sabbatical?!?).

After it’s all over we’ll be left with a humongous bill, some fond memories and a lot of garbage (I’m not speaking metaphorically here I mean actual garbage), but not a lot else. Something just occurred to me – do you think they’ll have a sentimental television commercial planned for after the Olympics too (you know ‘the world visited – wasn’t it amazing – once in a lifetime’ that type of thing)…want to bet money on it?!

Photo courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under Politics

Unsexy in the City

I was on a radio show yesterday talking about social networking. Before the host introduced me she gave the listeners a quick weather update that called for rain, rain and even more rain for the foreseeable future. I gave a little “Whoo-Hoo” under my breath sarcastically (thinking no one heard me), but my microphone picked it up and it made her laugh. We started talking about the rain. It was a great way to break the ice and calm my nerves.

Rain is such a huge part of our lives here in Vancouver you can’t help but moan about it. It’s a bond that all Vancourites share. Grey, gloomy days and sludgy, soggy nights are a norm. I feel a little sorry for the throngs of tourists coming here for the Olympics, because it’s probably going to rain almost every day! Besides sunshine and snow are so much more glamorous to dress for than rain don’t you think? Can you imagine ‘Sex in the City’  or ‘The Hills’ shot here in Vancouver? The street scenes would be so dull and to quote my husband “Unsexy in the City”.

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Porn on the Job at the Vancouver School Board

Today after brunch we decided to go for a walk in the neighbourhood around the restaurant. We came upon a beautifully landscaped park-like area with some sculptures of children playing and benches perfectly positioned for the peaceful view. Behind the gardens an imposing glass and concrete building. As I looked up at the sign I realized it was the head office of the Vancouver School Board. My tranquil moment was quickly shattered when my husband said “I read about a story recently where the Vancouver School Board employees were accessing porn on the job.”. I looked over at him incredulous and a little irritated.

Once we got home I started researching online certain that he must have been mistaken. Unfortunately not, according to an article in the Globe and Mail from December 22nd 2009 the VSB has suspended employees (yes that means more than one!!) allegedly for accessing porn through their computer systems while on the job. Now I know that many of the employees at the head office are probably bureaucrats that don’t have direct contact with our children. But it still disturbed me immensely. Not only are they part of our educational system, but they are publicly funded by tax payer dollars. That’s right, that means you and I are paying these people to watch porn on the job! Now that my eyes are open, I don’t know if I can go back to that park again.

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Filed under Education, Politics