Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Vancouver and Butterflies

Among the food plants my wife oversees, one is in Vancouver. I spent a week in Toronto every summer of my teen years, visiting friends, and I've been to Niagara Falls a number of times. When I was tiny, I suspect I went other places in Ontario. I had never, however, been to Vancouver. Many of her business trips are short bursts of 2-3 days, not worth the extra money for me to tag along. However, last week, she was due there for an entire week. So, our Elijah's first international trip turned out to be to Canada. He's a great traveler and continued to be for this trip.

Jeannene went in very early on Monday and was done early, so we got to go poke around Granville Island's Children's Market (where we picked up a Good Night, World board book illustrated with Pacific Northwest First Nations art and a cute pair of high tops featuring the British flag for our boy) and the Granville Island Public Market (where we scored scrumptious maple yummies, a fab vanilla macaron, brie de meaux & 9-year cloth-wrapped cheddar, wonderful bread, and fragrant local strawberries). We also stopped in some neat shops, including DragonSpace, where I saw scores of fairies I wanted to take home. I did get a coloring book, a gorgeous pendant of silver and rainbow moonstone, and a wee dragon for Elij's Enchanted Forest room. We also got to spend time on the quay, eating meat pies and listening to a street performer's renditions of James Taylor songs, among other singer-songwriter type music. He was quite good. Supper was across the street from the Westin, at the Boathouse, where we had some quite good seafood and, more importantly, the best Pimm's Cup I've encountered.

Tuesday, Jeannene had the car for work, so Elijah and I just hung out in the hotel room, playing and resting---and eating too much room service! We had the car Tuesday evening, but I didn't feel like venturing out at night in a city I don't know at all with a baby.

Wednesday, we did get out, driving down to the Gastown tourist district. However, upon arriving in the area, I looked around and determined that it didn't look like much that would be interesting at midday for a 10-month-old. He had fallen asleep, anyway, so it was better not to rouse him for nothing. So, I turned around and drove back to Richmond, where we were staying. By the time we arrived, he was awake. So, we had lunch at Dinesty Dumpling House. I'd been wanting to try soup dumplings and theirs turned out to be excellent! Elij was not as big a fan. I was happy to see spicy green beans with pork on the menu. That's one of my favorites. However, I was concerned that it might be too hot for him, so I asked the waitress. She shook her head and said, "Oh, no! Too hot, for sure, for him!" So, I also ordered rice noodles with pork and veggies, which turned out to be good, if bland. Elijah enjoyed eating the noodles, but his favorite thing was, if you can believe it, the green beans! He was looking at them so longingly that I decided to suck all the sauce and chile flecks from one and let him try. It didn't seem particularly spicy to me---and I am a spice wuss---so I thought it would be fine to let him try. He ate a bunch of them with great gusto and no ill effects! For dessert, we nommed on some red bean paste buns. I love me some red bean paste. Elijah was impressed, as well. 

For dinner that night, we tried to go to Espana for tapas. However, it was slammed and tiny. Luckily, I'd read good Chowhound reviews of Banana Leaf, just down the street and they had a table for us. We had roti with coconut curry sauce and excellent chicken satay with less-excellent, but still yummy sauce. I was not a fan of the roti, as it was a bit too sweet for me and I wanted it to have condensed milk on it if it was going to be sweet, but Jeannene and the boy were. I ate too much chicken to be very hungry for the pork side ribs I ordered, but the small portion I ate was good and the jasmine rice was perfect. Jeannene's rending beef curry, with coconut rice, was just right, as well. Okay, I need to be perfectly honest here. I could cheerfully have eaten my pork, had I not been intent on saving room for mango sticky rice. Am I ever glad I did, too! It was completely delectable. The mango was perfectly ripe. Oh, man. Elij adored it, too. We all three did. He'd had parts of both our dinners, but this was his fave, for sure. That boy is a huge mango fan. 

Thursday, Bear and I went exploring the Kitsilano neighborhood while Jeannene worked. We stopped in for lunch at Nelly's Grill, where the waitress was so very kind. She even offered to bring some blocks or other toys for Elijah. He was perfectly happy just eating, though. He had pancakes for the first time ever, fluffy silver dollar ones shaped like Mickey's head and bursting with plump blueberries. I had an omelet full of delicious meats & veggies. I did not take my sweetie boy to the beach there, even though I am dying to introduce him to the ocean. I want Jeannene to be there for his first time. I'd also like it to be in warmer climes so he can put his wee toes in!

Thursday evening, we planned to have dinner at Thierry Chocolaterie, Patisserie, and Cafe. We found parking right across the street, a table indoors, and everything. Sadly, they were out of sandwiches and savories. Deciding not to allow that to put a damper on things, I suggested we simply eat dessert first. So, we did---and it was great. Jeannene had a shortbread cookie with a coconut liquid chocolate. I had a glorious palmier with Basque chile liquid chocolate. Elij had a vanilla macaron---well, a great deal of one. His moms did pinch off a piece or two. Then, we ventured out into the streets to find dinner. 

We ended up at Pacifico Pizza, after considering and rejecting a number of other places. As soon as we walked in, we were swarmed by women who worked there, exclaiming over the baby. That was really sweet, but what really made an impression was the way it smelled in there! I knew immediately that our pizza would be stellar---and it was. We had terrific service and dinner was so, so good. We shared a pizza that was half margherita and half capriccios, with Genoa salami, ham, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and olives. The toppings were high quality and the crust was thin and chewy and delicious. 

Jeannene's conference was over Thursday, so we were able to enjoy one more day touring the city as a family. The event planner (me) had Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium on the agenda. We ended up buying a membership at the Aquarium before we even walked in, since Jeannene's going to be spending a decent amount of time in the city. Elijah and I will be back, as well. We had a bite to eat before exploring. Elij really dug the black bean burger! He was less keen on the sea lions, once we started looking about the aquarium. I think the crazy roaring sort of noises made him nervous. He was, however, interested in the dolphin show. I think Jeannene's and my very favorite thing to see was the belugas. It was a great time! In the gift shop, we found an adorable sloth onesie for Elijah, a red jacket for Jeannene, and a pewter necklace and earrings with a First Nations artist's depiction of Raven on them for me. 

After the aquarium, we took a horse-drawn trolley tour of the park, with a stop at the totem poles (which were fascinating---each had a sign explaining the history and meaning) and a drop-off a lovely stroll through the woods from our car. We set our GPS for The Tomahawk Barbecue, assuming all the park's restaurants closed at 5. However, I decided, on a whim, to follow the "restaurants" sign further into the park, rather than the GPS' preferred road. It was a great whim to follow, as we ended up having a wonderful dinner (a shared cheese plate and roasted chickpeas as an appetizer, halibut for Jeannene, beef tenderloin for me, and a beautiful chocolate mascarpone cake with an almond wafer crust---some of everything for Elij, whose favorite was, by far, the chickpeas) at The Teahouse in Stanley Park, right by the water. Lovely service, cozy atmosphere. We'll definitely go back. 

Saturday, we flew home. I'd been spoiled by our not getting to sit together on the way there---affording me the opportunity for a nap and several chapters of my book, while Jeannene kept our wee boy entertained. I assumed I would be entertaining him on the way home, but he surprised us and slept almost the whole way, after looking out the window with great interest for awhile. We were also surprised not to have anyone else in our row! What bliss, in this age of consistently overbooked flights!

Jeannene very energetically made us supper Saturday night. I'd assumed we'd just grab something on the way home from the airport, but she made us country-fried steak with white gravy, mashed potatoes, and corn. A homey dinner for our first night home. 

Sunday, she had to work for several hours from home, so I hung out with the boy quite happily. At 2:30, though, she said she was ready to go on our B alphabet date, if we had time. We did, indeed. We spent the rest of the afternoon checking out Butterfly Pavilion. I've started a blog just for our alphabet dates, so you can read more about that at After our date, we came home and I made a pot of chili, corn muffins, and apple slices to dip in caramel.

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