Eating tasty Thai food at the new eatery from chef Angus An was an easy excuse for visiting New Westminster on Friday. Longtail Kitchen serves Thai street food in a corner of New Westminster's River Market. The bright space has a food-court-meets-cafť feel, and there's also a garage door that can open up onto a riverfront patio on sunnier days.
The menu is short, sweet, and very affordable. A medium-sized bowl of Chiangmai curried noodles cost just $10. I only missed having some plain rice to soak up the spicy drippings from the tender chicken legs.
I was also tempted by the menu's mussel curry, a traditional pad Thai, and papaya salad, but one dish was plenty for lunch.
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The Grouse Grind is open for the season. My advice? Go before the crowds do.
About 100,000 people hike up this intense, 2.9 km (1.8 mile) trail each year. The route is an unpaved odyssey of rocks, roots, and slippery slopes. And you step up nearly 3,000 stairs over the hike's 853-meter (2,800-foot) elevation gain.
You'll want to carry water, snacks, and a warm layer (it gets chilly on the mountaintop) along with you.
There aren't many views until you reach the top. There, on the balcony of the Grouse Mountain chalet, you can sip a drink and watch people finish the final leg of the hike.
Note that you can't hike down the Grind. The congestion is too much for that. Instead, buy a SkyRide ticket ($10) and head back down with the families and tour groups who took the easy way to the top.
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Photos © ChloŽ Ernst
In Vancouver, we are lucky to have a trio of bright and frenzy-filled night markets either in the city or a short Canada-Line trip away in Richmond. The three markets all offer low-cost wares, tasty food, and live entertainment.
But more than anything, it's the atmosphere that keeps people coming back. After one visit you'll love the crush of the crowds, being with chattering friends, and the line-ups (because some things are worth the wait).
Of the three, my personal favorite is the Richmond Night Market because it's so close to the SkyTrain station and is always lively. But I'm also excited to re-visit the Vancouver Chinatown Night Market this year -- it's looking to be bigger and better than ever. Plus, the promise of ping pong tournaments and outdoor movies sounds too good to pass up!
- International Summer Night Market: Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, as of May 10.
- Richmond Night Market: Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights starting May 17.
- Vancouver Chinatown Night Market: Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights starting May 17.
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Expect legions of spot-prawn-hungry people at the Fishermen's Wharf this Saturday, for the annual Spot Prawn Festival. Most folks line up, plate in hand, to sample the fresh spot prawns† -- though you'll need to already have a sold-out ticket.
But the festival, which celebrates the start of spot prawn season, also features free cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, and a chance to buy caught-that-morning crustaceans. The event happens Sat. May 11, 2013, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Fishermen's Wharf, located just west of Granville Island.
If you miss the one-day festival, most Vancouver seafood restaurants will be serving up spot prawns in classic cocktails and inventive dishes (deep-friend prawn heads anyone?) for the next two months.
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Photos, from the 2012 festival, © ChloŽ Ernst
Birds chirping, a tree-lined street, and gorgeous rooftop patio make Times Square Suites a rather ideal West End hotel. And that's not to mention that it sits ever-so conveniently on the corner of Denman and Robson streets.
I'd never stepped inside the all-suites hotel before last week. But during a recent open house, I was impressed and surprised with the spacious accommodations and well-equipped kitchens. Configurations range from studios to two-bedrooms, and all have sofa beds in the living area.
The West End location is a couple blocks from Stanley Park. It neighbors bike rental outfits, too, that will have you cycling the seawall in no time. Or, you could just stroll to dinner -- this neighborhood is filled with great options for ramen, Japanese, and Korean food.
But back to that sunny rooftop. It's a bit of an oasis, with the sun-loungers, flowering planters, and partial views of the North Shore Mountains. And the huge barbecue means you can even cook up your own dinner, say if you find some fantastic seafood at Granville Island.
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I love fabrics and textiles. So much so, that when I visited New York, I spent most of my time not in the museums, but in the Manhattan Garment District.
I recently fed this material addiction with a peek inside the newly re-designed rooms at Opus Hotel. Each of the colorful, revamped guestrooms is dressed with interesting fabrics -- from velvety sofas and plush bolsters to faux-snakeskin headboards.
Since its 2002 opening, the Yaletown hotel has offered personality-themed rooms -- down to the type of music on the in-room iPad. Each has a color theme too. The first design featured candy-pop colors, but things are a bit more subdued in the re-imagining. Crush-orange now has a touch of softness; the apple green a mossier shade.
Add in the a whole host of artworks by local artists, and you can't help but feel like the rooms wake up your senses with color, texture, and originality.
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I caught the show yesterday evening on Point Grey Road, where a huge blossoming tree was strung with lanterns, and a moving projection made the blossoms appear to sway with an eerie beauty.
Tonight's Kits Beach event will feature multiple trees in another awesome light show, running from 8:30-10:30 p.m. Look for the glow near Kits pool. And the fact that it's ever-so nearly a full moon will mean even cooler photos.
Photos © ChloŽ Ernst
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The refurbished hotel lounge offers up cold drinks and light, tasty eats. Lots of local ingredients make a showing on the menu, including local sausages and fine charcuterie from Oyama Sausage Company (find them at the Granville Island Public Market), Vancouver Island cheeses, and house-cured salmon from Skuna Bay. And the drinks list pulls from local breweries, distilleries, and Okanagan wineries.
Overall, it's a comfortable, tuck-away space, and I look forward to dropping by again come summertime -- perhaps when the bar's retractable windows will be opened up onto Burrard Street.
Grain Tasting Bar Details:
Address: 655 Burrard St.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
I've been thinking a lot about spring flowers lately, what with photographing the tulips in Agassiz and being surrounded by cherry blossoms in Vancouver. And that led me to think about the lovely Minter Gardens -- which I visited last summer on a Harrison Hot Springs trip.
The elegant garden covers 32 acres, with interesting smaller gardens within that area. Expect unusual roses, babbling waterfalls, shady arbors, and lush flowerbeds. A garden path connects them all, and there's restaurant serving tasty eats to cap the visit. The timing is perfect -- the garden has just opened for the season.
For more, here's a photo tour of Minter Gardens.
Photos © ChloŽ Ernst
I didn't know what to expect when pulling into an Agassiz gas station off Lougheed Highway for this year's Tulips of the Valley Festival. That's because you don't get to peek at the fields until you park, and walk a couple hundred meters.
But when the fields of Canadian-grown tulips -- in shades of yellow, red, pink, purple, orange, and white -- come into view, the 2-hour drive from Vancouver is immediately rewarded.
Long narrow rows of flowers look like a bright corduroy fabric. The tulips are a favorite background for family photos. And even on a rainy day (as it was during my visit) the scene is fantastic -- though you don't get to see the mountains when the clouds sit low. Be sure to take a camera, and wear rubber boots as the field can get muddy.
The flowers are blooming through this weekend and next week. After that, the farmers cut off the bright petals to direct the growing energy back into the bulb.
Location: 77 Lougheed Hwy.
Dates: Until the blooms are gone -- check the Tulip Festival website for details
Hours: Wed-Fri from 12 to 4 p.m.; Sat-Sun 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Parking $5; adults $3; seniors $2.50; kids 12 and under free
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