Food, Travels
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Vancouver: Part I

My hiatus is now over.  A little weekend getaway for cross country nationals in Vancouver and a quick trip to Whistler was exactly what I needed after my short but hectic school week.  I have lots to write and so much to say about this exciting trip, but for now I’ll just focus on the portion in Vancouver.

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The flight felt a little long, but it was all worth it was we flew over the city and across the UBC campus on the peninsula.  The sunset was timed perfectly as we started our descent and saw an array of beautiful reds, oranges, and purples along the horizon.

I arrived in Vancouver Thursday evening and without further ado dinner was in order!  Because we were on the coast, the restaurant Coast seemed appropriate with its huge and somewhat daunting menu filled with local seafood.

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After making our orders, we were presented with what they called prawn beignets.

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It took a little while to fully understand the pronunciation; to be honest I didn’t even recognize it as French.  But their lack of proper pronunciation didn’t put a dent in the fantastic flavours in our amuse bouche.

Another thing to note about this place was the beautiful plating.  Our dishes, as well as every one I saw pass by looked like it could have made the cover of a magazine.

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A necessity at this place was a starter of oysters.  West Coast oysters like Kusshi got me hooked only a few short months ago; these along with Reed Island, a local favourite, were ordered.  Accompanied by a side of calamari with jalapeno peppers and a wonderful mayo sauce, the night was on a high note already.

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A warm seafood platter and a salmon special rounded out the seafood for the night.  The colour on the salmon was a shocking pink (in the best way) and other whitefish were cooked to perfection.  The ravioli in the special were good, but the local mushrooms were a punch of delicate flavour that paired seamlessly with the fish.  What really rounded it out for me was the farro side on the seafood platter.  The creamy ancient grain was not over-cooked like I’ve seen many times before but still had a decent rigidity to it and was mixed with a cream sauce with cheese and a few little bits of kale.

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And last but certainly not least, dessert.  Their highly recommended Mandarin Manji Chocolate Cake and Coconut Banana Butter Cake were the tip of the already perfect kick-start to our weekend.  The chocolate cake was rich and bitter because of the cocoa sprayed outer layer and sat next to a few pieces of sponge toffee and poached apricots.  The acids were much needed to break some of the richness in the cake and did so perfectly.  The other favourite was more highly praised by my parents that loved the sweet but lightness of the cake.  For a coconut cake, in which I was a little skeptical, was still very sweet and airy and topped with berries, banana chips and a creamy sauce.  With the plates licked clean, I’m sure they got the hint that we were pleased.

With our bellies full and what felt like midnight to us, we went back to the hotel and I know I was out within seconds of turning the lights out.

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Still one more day before race day and Vancouver at our fingertips we visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.  Who knew there was a rainforest just minutes from downtown? I sure didn’t.  As soon as you step into the woods, the densely saturated air was exceptionally cold but well worth the visit.  Because we had already been up for hours, we were one of the first ones there and the bridge had few others on it and getting in the way of us snapping photos.  The rushing stream hundreds of feet below us was invigorating and didn’t stop me from spending a few extra minutes in the middle like I thought it might.

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The other walkways and suspensions bridges throughout the park had already been or were being prepared for the Christmas display of lights.  The owl figures and hundreds of strings of lights would fascinate anyone at night; I highly recommend it for those out there until early January.  As we continued along the walk and stepped out on their cliffwalk, which can also get the heart racing, the lush greenery and the surfaces completely covered in moss amazed us all.

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After a fair bit of time in the park, we called it quits when our fingers and toes were seriously starting to freeze.

Lastly before race day, a quick warm up on the already über muddy course kicked me back to reality and that the race was fast approaching.  With my awesome teammate Sasha and parents, we went for an amazing Italian dinner at Zeffirelli’s.  The stuffed mushrooms and bruschette were necessary as a precursor and filled with garlic, like everything else.  (Not necessarily to everyone’s taste, but definitely mine!) As a classic pre-race meal, my ravioli stuffed with a three cheese and broccoli filling, chicken, and a tomato pesto sauce got me weak in the knees.  Of course, even more garlic, but most importantly the ravioli filling wasn’t overpoweringly cheesy and cut by the acidity in the sauce.  To top it all off, desserts were split and quickly finished.  Although somehow I got away without taking pictures, I highly recommend this restaurant for an affordable and comforting meal that also housed a fun and cozy ambiance.

The start of the trip was on a real high, as for the race and other adventures, stay tuned as I will be posting all week.  I just love it when I have so much to tell and write about; I can’t wait for you guys to read all about it!

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