Would you pay $150 for one bottle of beer?

The craft brew revolution took a strange, pricy twist in Vancouver this week, with the announcement that a $150 beer will soon be available in select B.C. Liquor Stores.  In total, 84 bottles of Utopias, made by American brewer Samuel Adams, will make their way to the province.

But this is no ordinary brew.  It has no carbonation and an incredible 28-percent alcohol content, more than twice the percentage in an average bottle of wine.  In fact, it can be opened and closed like a spirit and doesn’t have to be refrigerated.  The beer comes in special 710-ml bottles, twice the size of a typical longneck beer bottle.

So how does it taste? According to Samuel Adams, Utopias is “reminiscent of a deep, rich vintage port, fine cognac or aged sherry, while surprisingly light on the palate.”  It’s actually a blend of different batches of beer, some of which have been aged for up to 19 years.

The beer was stored in all kinds of different barrels during the aging process, from old bourbon casks to enhance vanilla and maple notes to port casks to bring out fruity aromas and rum barrels from Nicaragua to add flavours of chocolate, raisin and spice.

Two separate versions of Utopias will be available in B.C, a traditional (black) 10th anniversary edition and a special (copper) 2013 edition, which is blended with a Belgian-style beer evocatively named Kosmic Mother Funk, an exotic brew aged for up to 2 years in Hungarian oak tuns.

So how do you get your hands on these exclusive suds? Anticipating huge demand, B.C. Liquor Stores has actually initiated a lottery to determine who gets first dibs on the bottles.  Anyone of legal drinking age can enter, from Jan. 29-Feb. 14.  Winners will be selected on Feb. 21 and will have the chance to purchase and sample one of the world’s priciest beers.

Photo credit: Another Pint Please... | Flickr

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Vancouver’s bike sharing program has already hit a speed bump – and there aren’t even bikes on the ground yet.

Bixi, the Montreal-based supplier of bikes for the plan, has filed for bankruptcy, according to the Vancouver Sun. Under a a $6-million initiative approved by the city last July, Bixi was to have supplied the city with 1,500 shareable bikes. Rental logistics and back-end support for the plan were to be provided by Bixi’s American partner, Alta.

But Bixi’s bankruptcy filings, initiated after the city of Montreal demanded repayment of a $37-million loan, threaten to put another snag in Vancouver’s bike-sharing dreams. Shareable bikes were originally due to hit the streets in early 2014, but the city had already delayed the launch because Alta and Bixi were unable to provide a solid business plan.

There is good news, however.  While Bixi was among the first successful bike-share companies, many others now operate across Canada and the U.S.  (There’s even a Richmond-based company in our own backyard that supplies bike-share hardware for cities as diverse as Miami Beach and Sao Paulo.)

If Bixi is unable to get back on its feet, Vancouver has other bike suppliers it can choose from and, more importantly, hasn’t signed any kind of agreement locking it into Bixi’s services.

In total, some 500 cities around the world now have bike-sharing programs, where public bicycles can be rented for urban trips of short duration, according to the Globe and Mail. Paris was the first city to introduce shared bikes in 2007.

For Vancouver, the dream of bike sharing has been a long time coming. The first calls for a program began more than five years ago.  Laws requiring all bike riders to wear helmets posed a major hurdle.  But that was cleared when planners came up with the idea of installing dispensers to rent helmets next to bike stations.

The city had planned to unveil the first batch of 250 7-speed bikes docked at 25 solar-powered stations as early as this winter or spring, much to the delight of Vancouver cyclists and tourists.  It’s now unclear when the program will get off the ground.

Photo credit: Alex Pope | Flickr

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Are you ready to sit on the Iron Throne?

HBO’s Game of Thrones: The Exhibition is set to return to Vancouver this August as part of the 2014 Fair at the PNE.  For fans of the fantasy TV series, scheduled to begin its fourth season in April, it’s a chance to get up close and personal with the costumes and weaponry used by the Starks, the Lannisters and other combatants in their violent struggle for control of the realm.

The display features enough goodies to leave hardcore Game on Thrones fans drooling: a selection of cloaks, dresses and armour; iconic artifacts including model dragons and eggs; an array of weapons such as crossbows, daggers, spears, hatchets and swords; House banners; crowns and headdresses; and books, letters and maps, not to mention original storyboards from the show.  In total, more than 100 items will be showcased.

But fans will be able to go beyond just gawking.  The exhibition also includes a fully immersive, interactive experience that puts visitors into the fictional world of Westeros and sees them battle for supremacy.

And, of course, there’s also a chance to take a seat on the coveted Iron Throne.  Past exhibits have seen long lines of faithful queue up for the opportunity to be photographed on the throne, which legend has it is made from the swords of vanquished kings, melted together by dragon fire.

The exhibition, which is returning to Canada for its third year, will be free with admission at this year’s PNE, the annual summer fair in Vancouver, Aug. 16-Sep. 1.

Photo credit: lincolnsoares | Flickr

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Some are boozy, some are spicy, some are minty and some are just plain bananas. The 4th Annual Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival is back and holy chocolate smokes, there are some super delicious cups of cocoa being poured in Vancouver.

For a full month, you can sip, slurp and repeat as you taste your way through over 60 crazy hot chocolate or hot chocolate inspired flavours. Organised by City Food Magazine, the festival started January 18 and runs until February 14.

Over 20 cafes are participating in this year’s festival – from Bel Cafe to Blenz, Terra Breads to Thierry. If you want to walk off your calories and do a bit of a tour, festival sponsor City Food has mapped out Hot Chocolate Festival destinations here.

The festival isn’t only about hot chocolate, it’s also about raising funds for a local charity.  This year’s recipient of Hot Chocolate Festival proceeds is the Downtown Eastside women’s job training program of the Portland Hotel Society and East Van Roasters. The program provides part-time employment for female residents of the Rainier Hotel in the art of chocolate making. Watch the completely inspiring video to feel great about all the chocolately goodness you’ll consume in the next few weeks.

Below you’ll find some highlights of this year’s festival.

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie -  Three times lucky? A TRIO OF CHOCOLATE is a base of 66% Mokaya chocolate by Michel Cluizel. Served with a disk of 45% Kayambe milk chocolate + white chocolate ice cream. The Trio of Chocolate is only available from January 18 – January  31, so carpe diem.

Peppermint Patty @ Bel Cafe

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Grey skies and rainy days conspire to keep many Vancouverites cooped up indoors during the winter months.  There is a solution for cabin fever, however: Just look up.

The North Shore mountains, just across the Lions Gate Bridge from downtown, offer an outdoor playground during the winter months – and not just for skiers. Well maintained trails on Cypress, Grouse and Seymour Mountains give hikers and snowshoers a chance to stretch their legs in pristine alpine forest.

Among the best routes for beginners looking for an easy hike is the Dog Mountain Trail on Mt. Seymour, which is 5 kilometres round-trip and takes about two hours to complete.  I checked out the trail over the weekend, on a day when downtown Vancouver was blanketed in fog.

Up at the 935-metre base of Mt. Seymour in North Vancouver, however, the sun was shining bright and it was a balmy 9 degrees Celsius.  After parking amid skiers and snowboarders, I made my way to the trailhead, marked by a B.C. Parks sign in the northwest corner of the parking lot.

The trail starts parallel to one of Seymour’s ski runs, before taking a sharp left and diving into thick woodland.  On Saturday, it was busy with groups of snowshoers and plain old hikers making their way over a surface of well packed snow.  Overhead, light filtered in through the branches of massive, second-growth evergreens.

The terrain is relatively flat, which makes Dog Mountain an easier option compared to other alpine hikes, which tend to involve a lot more vertical. Still, gnarled tree roots and icy patches made negotiating the trail a bit difficult in spots.

After about a kilometre of walking, I reached an opening in the forest – the white, frozen surface of First Lake.  Groups were having picnics along the shore and soaking up the winter wonderland – mounds of sparkling white snow under a brilliant blue sky.

The trail continues on and begins a gentle ascent of the mountain.  The terrain is a bit rougher here, requiring some careful footwork on the uphill stretches and the occasional butt slide through the snow on downhill sections.  But the scenery is exceptional.  Clear winter streams slice through the snow, while squirrels race along the trunks of towering evergreens.

After another kilometre, the trail enters a final uphill stretch before opening dramatically to the overview on Dog Mountain. I climbed a rocky outcrop to take in what must be one of the most amazing views in the Lower Mainland.

Looking south and west all I could see was a continuous blanket of cloud far below, the fog that had socked in Vancouver for the last week.  It looked like one big pillow, nestling against the North Shore mountains and stretching all the way to Vancouver Island, obscuring the entire city of Vancouver beneath.  I was happy to be above it.

The Dog Mountain Trail on Mt. Seymour is 5 kilometres roundtrip and considered easy-intermediate (but definitely not child’s play in wintry weather). A detailed description can be found on Vancouver Trails.  

Photo credit: iwona_kellie | Flickr

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by MIRANDA POST in FOOD & DRINK


January is here and with it is a time for reflection and resolution. Last year I resolved to do a lot of budget-friendly yoga. This year I plan to focus on building my brain and making food choices that will not only feed my growing little family, but also tread lightly on the planet.

Vancouver is a locavore hotspot. Our city is the birthplace of the 100-mile diet phenomenon. Chefs from restaurants like Bishops, Forage, Raincity Grill and Campagnolo regularly change their menus to match the seasons and embrace vendors and suppliers who source local and organic food.

This year I looked for resolution inspiration from two local foodies who are passionate about ‘eating local and thinking global.’ Below you’ll find new year’s resolutions ideas from Lindsay CoulterDavid Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green, and Katharine Manson of the Chef’s Table Society and Hastings North Business Improvement Association. Their food and drink resolutions inspired me to share my own commitments to becoming a better locavore.

Katharine Manson recommends expanding your vegetable horizons. 

According to Manson, adding more variety to one’s veggie drawer is key to enjoying B.C.’s food bounty. “I resolve to add more diversity to what I cook at home. I have a few go to meals that I seem to cycle through. I would like to expand my skill set in the kitchen and try my hand at cooking vegetables that I have never worked with but have enjoyed in restaurants.

I’ll often hit the farmers market and fall in love with the variety of produce but often just go home with the usual suspects like carrots, potatoes, radishes and tomatoes. I’d like to be a little more daring with my choices. Take Kohlrabi for instance. I have seen Robert Belcham work with it many times at Campagnolo but I have never purchased it myself.”

Follow Manson’s advice and grab a bag full of Kohlrabi or other in-season veggies at your local farmers’ market. In Vancouver, the Vancouver Farmers’ Market takes place at Nat Bailey Stadium every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. the weekly Winter Farmer’s Market at Nat Bailey Stadium.

Lindsay Coulter suggests choosing organic wine.

“Wineries that produce certified organic wine cannot use toxic pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers to grow grapes. Instead, they fertilize crops with compost, compost teas, green manure and cover crops. They also rely on mechanical weeding, mowing around the vines, mulching and companion planting. To avoid the use of insecticides to control cutworms, organic farmers let chickens graze under the vines or pick cutworms off the leaves one by one. Certified organic wine doesn’t use genetically modified organisms or GMOs and they don’t contain sulphites.”

Coulter also advises against eating red-listed species, please.

“Commit a few names of these red-listed species to memory. They’re the ones you want to avoid. Don’t consume Chilean seabass, swordfish, orange roughy, bluefin tuna, and tropical shrimp or prawns. Destructive longline fishing is pushing endangered sea turtle and shark populations to dangerously low levels. And bottom trawlers still plough our ocean floors, destroying fragile corals and sponges. Seachoice.org can help you shop smarter.”

Learn to cook, more

Did you know that 88 Fraser Valley family farms supply Ocean Spray with cranberries and that BC produces 84 million pounds of cranberries a year? Neither did I, until I took a cooking class in Langley.

This year I resolve to learn more about our local foods and and how to cook them. Like Manson, I want to break out of my culinary rut. I took a cooking class at Well Seasoned back in December to kick start my 2014 ‘learn to cook more than the standard 10 dishes scheme.”

Well Seasoned owner Angie Quaale walked us through a three course meal that was simple, fast and local. Our arugula salad topped with local hazelnuts, spicy tex-mex turkey soup and cranberry mousse with chocolate ganache all included main ingredients from Lower Mainland farms. Well Seasoned’s classes average two and a half hours and cost between $60-70.

Looking for Vancouver-based cooking classes? Try the Dirty Apron Cooking School.

Buck the Food Inc model

Who knew a documentary could have such an impact on my eating habits? Last year I watched Food Inc. had a hard think about about the meat I buy: namely the environmental, health and labour footprint. After watching the documentary, I vowed to look for B.C.-based meat and seafood as much as possible.

This year I resolve to buy directly from the rancher, farmer and fisherman as much as possible. I will inquire at restaurants where they get their meat and shop at locally stocked butchers and farmers markets more. No, I’m not going to create a Portlandia chicken scene, but I will be an curious customer.

This should be an an easy resolution to stick to. Vancouver has a year-round farmer’s market that features friendly vendors like Empire Valley Ranch from near Williams Lake,  Gelderman Farms in Abbotsford and Blue Comet Seafood from Steveston who will proudly explain their business practices. In general, many restauranteurs in Vancouver will proudly share their vendors’ lists, so you can confirm where your protein comes from.

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Interested in learning more about the lives of ex cons, sex therapists or born-again Christians? The Vancouver Public Library has the “book” for you.

As part of this year’s PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (Jan. 14-Feb. 2), the library will be loaning out dozens of “human books.”  Visitors can check out everyone from a recovering hoarder to a male nanny and female heavy equipment operator, then sit down for an in-depth one-on-one conversation.

Presented for the first time in Vancouver at last year’s PuSh, the Human Library project is intended to give people the opportunity to talk with members of groups that are traditionally marginalized or misunderstood. Inspiration for the event comes from Copenhagen, Denmark, where the first Human Library was launched in 2000 as a way to fight stereotypes and promote dialogue in the community.

On select days during the festival, visitors to the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch can head to a special circulation desk on the third floor and peruse the human titles available. In addition to the “books” mentioned above, titles include Medium, Open Marriage, Transgender Woman, Invisibly Disabled, Coping with Dementia, Living with Bipolar and Interracial Couple, among dozens of others. Participants are drawn from the local community and have volunteered to share short narratives of their lives.

After signing out their “book,” visitors have a 20-minute, one-on-one session.  Generally, the first 10 minutes consist of a short prepared speech, while the last 10 minutes are open to any and all questions – and the “books” aren’t shy.

The Human Library is free, and “books” are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to heavy demand, visitors are asked to arrive one-two hours before they expect to “read” their title.

The Human Library runs at the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch, Jan. 18-20, 25-27 and Feb. 1-3 from noon-4 p.m.  For more information, visit the PuSh Festival website.

Photo credit: christianyves | Flickr

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PuSh, Vancouver’s International Performance Arts Festival, is underway. Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the festival takes place until Feb. 2, and features 150 performances by an international roster of musicians, filmmakers and theatre groups at various venues around town.

Some of those performers will entertain audiences at Club PuSh, aka Performance Works (1218 Cartwright St.). Here are some highlights of this year’s Club PuSh, the festival’s Granville Island hub.

 

Gender Failure (Jan. 16-17, 8 p.m.) - Vancouver writer Ivan Coyote and Montreal-based musician Rae Spoon discuss, through words and music, gender identity. Spoon’s most recent album, My Prairie Home, has been very well received by Canadian music critics; the musician was also the subject of a documentary last year. (Tickets: $29/$21 group rate.)

Tucked & Plucked: Vancouver’s Drag Herstory Live Onstage (Jan. 24, 8 p.m.) – Using a talk-show format, Zee Zee Theatre unearths the history of Vancouver’s drag movement. Co-hosted by real-life drag husbands the Queen of East Van Isolde N. Barron and the Baddest Bitch Peach Cobblah, Tucked & Plucked features guests from Vancouver’s drag community. (Tickets: $25/$21 group rate.)

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Jan. 23, 8 p.m.) – Composer/violinist Stefan Smulovitz leads Vancouver music collective Eye of Newt Ensemble in a live accompaniment to Tetsuo: The Iron Man. An ’80s cyberpunk film from Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto, Tetsuo is considered a cult classic, and Eye of Newt promises to deliver a soundscape worthy of the movie. (Tickets: $25/$21 group rate.)

Swan Song (For Cats) (Jan. 25, 8 p.m.) - Performance art collective Norma brings out gaudy costumes, a choir, a dance routine, a light show and “a thousand cats” in its part of this evening show. And Vancouver singer/songwriter Veda Hille contributes a set of cat-themed tunes from Canadian artists. (Tickets: $25/$21 group rate.)

Duets for One/Myth and Infrastructure (Feb. 1 8 p.m.) – In Duets for One, Vancouver’s Tanya Marquardt adapts scenes from her memoir Stray. The result is described as “a cabaret-style montage-alogue” which integrates the influence of New York underground culture (Marquardt moved to New York to write the memoir) with the duet song form. In Myth and Infrastructure, L.A.’s Miwa Matreyek uses animation and her own body to explore the boundaries between film and theatre. (Tickets: $29/$21 group rate.)

Club PuSh

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Canada’s largest gluten free event returns to Vancouver on January 25th and 26th. TheGluten Free Expo has expanded since last year into a two-day event at the PNE Forum in what promises to be both a delicious and educational event. Join the gluten free community to discover, sample, and save on hundreds of gluten free products, and learn more about gluten free living from leading experts.

 

The expo began two years ago in a small community centre gym right here in Vancouver. At the beginning, they had only two goals: to collect gluten free food donations for gluten intolerant families in need, and to help gluten intolerant individuals connect with each other and discover new dietary solutions. Due to the higher costs of gluten free food, food banks across Canada are often in need of food in this category. The Gluten Free Expo aims to contribute to this shortage, all while providing education on living gluten free in a healthy and accessible way. Now, two years later, the Gluten Free Expo has expanded across Canada and takes place annually in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa.

This year’s Gluten Free Expo takes place January 25th and 26th at the PNE Forum. Tickets are $12 online, or $15 at the door (cash only). Donations of gluten free food will be accepted onsite for the Vancouver Food Bank.

Gluten Free Expo
Date: January 25th–26th, 2014
Time: 10am-4pm
Location: PNE, Forum Building, 2901 E. Hastings St
Tickets: $12 online, $15 (cash only) at the door. Free for children under 10.

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British Columbia-based photographers celebrated at Red Bull Illume exhibit from January 31 – February 8

A collection of the world’s best action sports photography will illuminate Vancouver’s Jack Poole Plaza from January 31 – February 8, 2014. Showcasing the most exciting action/adventure sports photography from around the world, the Top 50 images of the 2013 Red Bull Illume contest will be on display outdoors each night after dusk in illuminated 2m x 2m light boxes.

 

Canada’s most talented photographers received accolades at the international photography contest, including Vancouver’s own Scott Serfas who won first place in the ‘Illumination’ category for his photo of professional snowboarder Travis Rice. B.C based photographers Jussi Grznar, Sterling Lorence and Dan Carr were also among the finalists.

The Red Bull Illume exhibit will be completely free and open to the public. An international traveling exhibit in itself, Red Bull Illume’s Vancouver stop will be the only one on Canadian soil.

WHAT: Red Bull Illume Photo Exhibit
Nightly outdoor display of the world’s best action sports photographs on 2m x 2m light boxes

WHERE: Jack Poole Plaza

Photo: Red Bull Illume photographer Sterling Lorence

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Serious about beer? Maybe it’s time you took your love of suds to the next level.

Starting in September, local craft beer enthusiasts will be able to enrol in an accredited, two-year program all about brewing.  Offered at the Langley campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the Brewing and Brewery Operations diploma is the first of its kind in the province and one of only a handful of beer-based multi-year diplomas in North America.

The inaugural class of 35 students will convene in a specially designed brew laboratory. Their studies will combine classes on the chemistry and microbiology behind the brewing process with hands-on training in brewing, packaging and marketing beer.

Meanwhile, guest lectures from members of the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild and Master Brewers Association of Canada will be supplemented by internships at local breweries for real-world beer experience.

As for coursework? In addition to other assignments, participants in the program will be expected to craft their own beers.  The best of the the bunch will be served in on-campus venues and might just end up in local liquor stores.

Behind the beer diploma is the explosion in craft beer consumption throughout the province.  In fact, course organizers were originally considering offering a wine-based program before they recognized the enormous demand for hoppy higher ed.

Microbreweries have seen sales grow by more than 20 percent a year since 2006, according to the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch, with sales totalling $170 million during the 12-month period ending September 2013. There are currently more than 70 microbreweries in the province, with 12 more expected to open this year.

Applications for Kwantlen’s brewery program are expected to open in March. Enthusiasm for artisanal suds is expected to make for a very competitive process.  A similar program offered by Ontario’s Niagara College saw 300 applicants face off for just 24 spots. Applicants are required to be 19 by the first day of class, provide a resume and letter of interest and, of course, know their IPAs from their pilsners.

Photo credit: QuinnDombrowski | Flickr

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Join the Vancouver Farmers Market every Saturday this month for the January Food Truck Fest. The Vancouver Farmers Market takes place every weekend at Nat Bailey Stadium. In addition to the regular vendors at the Farmers Market, you can now feast with double the number of food trucks usually at the market. The cuisine ranges from breakfast food to Japanese food to Salvadoran food, with food trucks also specializing in grilled cheese or crepes (full list below). With covered seating, live music, and now twice the number of food trucks, you’ll want to go every week.

 

The Food Truck Festival will feature up to five new food trucks every week. All the food trucks will be participating in creating a Market Menu Item, where they must create a menu item with products from the Winter Market. Diners can vote for their favourite new food truck and favourite Market Menu Item. With new food trucks each week, you’ll surely want to return every week to taste what’s new. The winning food trucks will be invited back to participate in the Summer Farmers Market.

Featured Food Trucks
Blue Smoke BBQ
Le Tigre
JJ’s Trucketeria
Chilitank
Creperie La Boheme
Transylvania Fresh
Yolk’s Breakfast
Feastro – The Rolling Bistro
Eli’s Serious Sausage
Taser Grilled Cheese
West Best Coffee
Aussie Pie Guy
The Bean Buggy
Guanaco Salvadoran Cuisine
Culver City Salads
Mogu
Soho Road
Mangal Kiss
Chou Chou Crepes

January Food Truck Fest
Date: Saturday, January 11th, 18th & 25
Time: 10am-2pm
Location: Vancouver Winter Farmers Market at Nat Bailey Stadium

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ll bets are off in this head to head debate on a key issue facing the British Columbia wine industry. All is resolved with the wine tasting that follows!

The Motion: Is wine made in the vineyard or in the winery?

 

Every wine is unique in some way. Some would attribute these distinctive qualities to terroir, while others would consider them to be a reflection of a winemaker’s style.

Vineyard location and weather during the growing season certainly impact the grapes in many ways, but the winemaker’s attention to detail and signature techniques may also have significant effects on the final product. Is the importance of terroir overstated? Are talented winemakers undervalued? And where do vineyard managers fit into all of this?

Join us for this year’s The Grape Debate, where our panel of wine experts will debate whether great wines are grown or made. Following the program, sip and sample your way through some of BC’s finest wineries and cast your vote!

Date: January 31
Time: 7:00pm Debate | 8:30pm Wine Tasting
Location: Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia, Lower Level
Presented by: Alumni UBC and the Wines of British Columbia

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Get ready for three whole days filled with chrome, leather, and all of the toys a motorcycle enthusiast could ask for as the 2014 Vancouver Motorcycle show rolls into Abbotsford’s Tradex from January 24-­26, 2014.

The world’s top manufacturers of motorcycles, scooters, and ATVs will be displaying their 2014 models for riders to ogle and inspect. Complete the experience by checking out the latest in apparel, accessories, and touring destinations, all available under one roof.

 

This year’s show features a number of exciting exhibits and opportunities for riders to watch and participate in. Nine­‐time Canadian Superbike Champion, Jordan Szoke, will be demonstrating his unbelievable talent in a Trials demo, and showing us why he has earned the most Superbike championships in Canadian history. The young enthusiasts at the show will be able to check out the Yamaha Riding Academy for Kids, where youth ages 6-12 will be able to take a ride on the latest Yamaha TT‐R off-­road motorcycle. Also returning this year to flaunt their impressive stunt skills are fan – favourites and acclaimed Team Empire freestyle stunt riders Nick “Apex” Brochaand Ernie “EDub” Vigil.

Friday January 24th is SHE Rides Night, when women are encouraged to attend the show for half-­price after 5pm. It’s an evening celebration for women who ride or are considering taking up the sport, complete with entertaining demos and activities, and a live Kawasaki giveaway you won’t want to miss.

EVENT: 2014 Vancouver Motorcycle Show
DATES: January 24-­26, 2014
LOCATION: Tradex – Trade & Exhibition Centre, Abbotsford
HOURS: Friday 10:00am-­9:00pm; Saturday 10:00am-­‐8:00pm; Sunday 10:00am-­5:00pm
ADMISSION: Adults $14.00 | Juniors/Seniors $10.00 | Children (under 6) FREE with adult purchase

motorcycle

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In 2014, families with young children will have more reason than ever to visit theVancouver Art Gallery.

Starting Jan. 5, the gallery – Western Canada’s largest art museum – is offering free admission every Sunday for kids 12 and under.

That means free access to more than 10,000 works of art spanning several centuries, from masterpieces by Canada’s Group of Seven landscape painters to contemporary photography and an extensive collection of paintings by British Columbia’s own Emily Carr.

The offer complements the gallery’s existing Weekly Family Programs, a series of child-friendly tours and hands-on sessions held each Sunday.  Activities include Art Agents (whimsical art experts who help kids explore the galleries), Art Tracks (interactive tours led by artists, dancers, musicians and others) and The Making Place (collaborative workshops where kids make their own masterpieces).

The free Sunday admission at the gallery is expected to benefit more than 50,000 children and their families each year.  The program is supported by the Diamond Foundation, one of Canada’s largest charities and a long-time supporter of the gallery.

Visitors to the gallery in January can enjoy more than a half-dozen blockbuster exhibits. Emily Carr: Deep Forest showcases dozens of rich, mysterious forest landscapes from the 1930s, painted by Carr near her Victoria home.  Charles Edenshaw highlights more than 200 pieces of Northwest Coast art from one of the country’s legendary First Nation artists.  Muntadas Entre/Between offers a 40-year retrospective of the work of multimedia artist Antoni Muntadas, whose art includes video, photos, web-based projects, performance and more.

Meanwhile, the gallery’s permanent collection highlights the most significant works to come out of the region in the last century, including pieces by Vancouver photoconceptualists Jeff Wall, Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham and others.  There’s also an extensive collection of 17th-century Dutch landscapes and a significant repository of photographs from the likes of Ansel Adams, Cindy Sherman and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Photo credit: JMV | Flickr

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Each year many people sit down at their desks or in their living rooms with pen to paper, laptop under fingertips or maybe chalk to board to resolve to be….smarter, fitter, healthier, a better person. The list goes on.

This year I’m resolving to focus on eating more local food (more on that later) and learning more. If, like me, you’re looking to build your grey matter but don’t want to sign up for a course or the pay tuition then you’re in the right city. Vancouver’s morning and night life offer plenty of events meant to nurture both your social and cerebral life. After all we are home to the upcoming, sold out Ted2014 Conference.

 

Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver - Born in Tokyo in 2003 as a way for designers to share their ideas, Pecha Kucha is sort of like speed-dating for your brain. Each presenter shares 20 slides at no more than 20 seconds each. At the end of their six minute and forty second presentation, the next presenter is up. Wildly popular, Pecha Kucha is held in 547 cities worldwide and hosted by local advertising and social engagement darlingsCause + Affect. The next Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver takes place January 30 at the Vogue Theatre. Vibe: hip, casual, beer-consumption encouraged. Cost: $15

Creative Mornings - Similar to Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver, Creative Mornings are the brainchild of folks from elsewhere., namely Tina Roth Eisenberg of New York City. Creative mornings are meant to celebrate a city’s particular creative talent and flavour and usually includes coffee and breakfast snacks. Creative mornings start at 8:30 a.m. include a 15-20 minute lecture by guest speakers and then a 20 minute group discussion. The audience is generally off to work by 10:00 a.m., neurone firing. Past Creative Morning Vancouver speakers restauranteur Mark Brand, mixed media artist and photographer Rachael Ashe and all-round-creative guy Jeff Hamada. Vibe: caffeinated, interactive, bright lights. Cost: Free

Public Salons - Held three-four times per year, the public salons are an opportunity for Vanouverites to put on their public policy hat and learn about economic, policy and social issues. Started by former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan as intimate 10-person, over-dinner type discussions, Public Salons were converted to larger scale events in memory of Sullivan’s good friend and battler-of-wits Prof. Abraham Rogatnick. The next Public Salon is February 19th at the Vancouver Playhouse and features speakers like urbanist Charles Montgomery, elephant caregiver Rosemary Conder and modern Chinese art critic Shentian Zheng. Vibe: debate club light, business casual, issue-digging. Cost: $20

Vancouver Institute –  The Vancouver Institute began offering free public lectures in 1916 as a way to build bridges between Vancouver citizens and the University of British Columbia community. All speakers contribute their thoughts free of charge and and out-of-town guests are brought in with the help of donations.

More of a traditional academic lecture, the institute tackles a variety of arts, humanities and science topics. Lecturers at the weekly talk series this year include: Dr. Wade Davis on The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena and Nass or Mr. Bob Rennie on Why collect art? Who cares? The Vancouver Institute is a membership based organization and those wishing to support future lectures can pay smallish membership fees. Lectures are always free and usually held in Lecture Hall No. 2 in the Woodward Instructional Resources Centre. The next lecture series starts January 18. Vibe: enquiring minds want to know, multi-generational, academic. Cost: Free

Photo Credit: Flickr/Ned Tobin

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Would you want to live in a Megazebo?

Laneway houses – small, detached homes plopped down in the backyard – have become all the rage in Vancouver in recent years. Now, an inventor and designer is adding a new architectural twist to the mix: an oversized, two-bedroom gazebo.

The Megazebo is a prefabricated, octagonal home – an eight-sided, 1,000-square-foot steel structure that can be partitioned off into multiple rooms, according to an article by Shelley Fralic in the Vancouver Sun.  Construction costs are around $50,000, and it can be accessorized with a ceramic tile roof, wraparound summer sun screen and even a miniature wind turbine for generating electricity.

The result is an oversized, space-age looking gazebo.  And while none of these Megazebos have actually been built in Vancouver, you may be seeing some soon if creator Denis Braun has his way.  An entrepreneur and designer, Braun is looking for a Vancouver homeowner to host the city’s first Megazebo.  And he’ll even pay for its construction.

According to a unique ad that Braun posted on Kijiji, he’s willing to provide a free Megazebo to any homeowner who’ll provide the land and concrete foundation needed, plus pay the taxes.  But there’s also some significant fine print.

72-year-old Braun – who splits his time between Calgary, Asia and Vancouver – plans to live in the structure for three months out of the year.  During the remainder of the year, the Megazebo is to be rented out, with proceeds split between him and the homeowner. Finally – in a somewhat morbid twist – when Braun dies, the Megazebo will be bequeathed to the homeowner in its entirety, no strings attached.

Other potential uses that Braun has proposed for the lightweight, pre-fab structures include everything from private surgery clinics to club houses, prayer kiosks and even private (and apparently small) resorts.

Significant legal hurdles remain before a Braun’s unique shelters could actually be erected in Vancouver.  But, considering that the city has some of Canada’s highest real estate prices and detached housing is in desperately short supply, Megazebos might just be coming soon to a backyard near you.

Photo sourced from megazebo.com

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Ice Skating at Robson Square; 9:00AM-9:00PM @ Robson Square, downtown Vancouver
Free admission; skate rentals $4
Renew a classic Vancouver tradition and enjoy some old-fashioned fun!  Celebrate winter in style with free skating in the heart of downtown Vancouver.  Bring cash for rentals and concession stand purchases.  Open

daily through February 28th.

Robson Square Ice Skate | Things To Do In Vancouver This Weekend

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Canada’s biggest restaurant fest is just around the corner.  The Dine Out Vancouver Festival returns Jan. 17-Feb. 2 for 17 straight days of bargain eating at the city’s best restaurants.  Hundreds of eateries around the city will be offering discounted three-course, prix fixe menus at $18, $28 and $38 price points.

The official list of restaurants and their special menus won’t be disclosed until Jan. 6 (or Jan. 3 if you’re an American Express cardholder).  In the meantime, a lineup ofdozens of special food-themed events has been announced to whet diners’ appetites. Options range from guided foodie tours of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods to gala dinners and culinary seminars.

Here are five can’t-miss events at the 2014 Dine Out Vancouver Festival:

East Van Craft Brew and Culinary TourEast Vancouver is home to some of the city’s best new craft breweries.  This unique tour takes visitors inside two of them to learn about the brewing process and – more importantly – sample some suds.  Then, groups hit the gritty streets of East Van in search of some beer-friendly fare, including locally made sausages, traditional Roman pizza and even stout-infused cake. January 18, 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, Feb 1; 3pm, 3 hours. $65

Food-tography: A Culinary Photography TourLet’s face it: We all take pictures of our food and most of them are . . . well, not very appetizing.  Learn how the pros take those mouthwatering food porn shots on this unique tour of Vancouver’s Railtown neighbourhood.  Groups stop in four local eateries to sip and sample the delicacies. Meanwhile, seasoned photographers offer instruction on how to capture memorable food moments. January 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31; Tues & Wed: 3.30pm, 2.5 hours; Thurs & Fri: 1:30pm, 2.5 hours. $65. 

West End Brunch CrawlGet ready for the mother-of-all-brunches in a neighbourhood that knows how to do lazy Sunday mornings. As part of this self-guided crawl, guests stop into no fewer than eight of the West End’s top breakfast establishments.  One special “passport” is your ticket to everything from fresh juices and smoothies to eggs benny and omelettes, pulled pork and bacon, pancakes, deserts and more.  A sister version of this crawl also explores brunch options on the East Side. Jan. 19; 10am, 4 hours. $40.  

Street Food City IIIIt wouldn’t be Dine Out without Street Food City.  This year, 15 of Vancouver’s best food trucks come together in a “mega-pod” outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. Live music and tables and tents are sure to lend a festive feel to this five-day long outdoor street eat fest. January 22, 23, 24, 25, 26; 11am – 3pm Wednesday through Friday; 11am – 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Free entry. 

Dinner at the BirdcageThis may well be the only culinary drag show in Vancouver, if not all of Canada. Downtown’s FanClub, a new New Orleans-style music hall on Granville Street, is the venue for this cabaret featuring some of the city’s legendary drag queens. Over a three-course meal and drinks, take in 11 over-the-top performance numbers by Joan-E, Carlotta Gurl and Coco. Expect an envelope-pushing, anything-but-ordinary evening. January 23; Doors open 6:00pm; 7:00pm Dinner, 8:30pm Show. $50 with dinner, $25 without dinner. 

Photo sourced from Tourism Vancouver

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