July 31, 2013

Faubourg ~ Vancouver Coffee Shops Part 7

In the heart of Kerrisdale, east of train tracks that don't go anywhere, and along busy 41st Avenue, is a remarkable little place called Faubourg. Beside Caffe Artigiano and across from Bean Brothers and Starbucks, Faubourg presents a bit of French culture with pastries, baguettes, cakes and much more.

The coffee is good, not great. Better coffee can be found next door at Artigiano. What is outstanding about Faubourg: breads, cakes and treats. The pastries are simply wonderful, with the croissants being the best we've encountered in Vancouver.

Service is decidedly un-Parisien: efficient and friendly. Faubourg is busy through the day, everyday, and the setting, inside or out (on a very small sidewalk patio), is noisy, but with breads and treats like this, who would complain?

July 28, 2013

Best Fish & Chips ~ Centennial Beach Cafe

Fish and chips cafes in Metro Vancouver are almost a common as sushi restaurants, and many offer their own variations on the traditional working class British fare. It is actually believed that deep fried fish was introduced to Britain in the 1600s CE by Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain, and derived from pescado frito. The chips came later, probably sometime around the mid 1800s.

Without doubt the best fish and chips we've encountered this summer is found at the Centennial Beach Cafe . It's part of the wonderful beach park of the same name in Tsawwassen. The sky and beach seem to go on forever, and the fish and chips never disappoint.

In particular, the halibut is excellent.Thick and moist, with a light (almost slightly healthy) batter and not overcooked, this dish is first rate. Perhaps a little stingy on the cole slaw side, and I can't recommend any of the add-on salads, the fish and attending chips are highly recommended. Some of the other menu items are well worth a look too; the chowder looks great, and the views aren't too bad either.

July 23, 2013

Vancouver Coffee Shops ~ Part 6: VanDusen Gardens

A gem of a place, the coffee shop at VanDusen Gardens is actually Truffles, a company that specialises in event catering in Metro Vancouver. At the Gardens, the location is wonderful, and location is everything. What could be better on a sunny day than to sit outside in such a beautiful setting. Inside... it's a bit utilitarian.

The coffee is good, with all the basic espresso drinks available. Not quite the flavour of Viva Java, or the cool hipness of Elysian, the coffee at Truffles is fine. The service is great. The staff is actually delightful, courteous, helpful and attentive.

There are food items of course, and for a simple lunch of sandwich and soup, or afternoon tea, Truffles is a great place to spend time. And the gardens are okay too.

Full moon over Vancouver ~ July 22

View some other full moon photos from Dawson City, Yukon and Buenos Aires, Argentina on the links below:

Dawson City Journal Moon     Buenos Aires Full Moon     Buenos Aires Full Moon Centro

July 18, 2013

Lakeside Gardens Resort on Salt Spring Island ~ The gate and more...

Lakeside Gardens is a magical place. It is also a quirky place with a sense of humour. This is not a high tech resort. While wi-fi is available, the signal isn't always strong, which is as it should be: this is a place to get away from phones and tablets.

About twenty years ago, Deb and Mark Toole bought what was then primarily a campground.The campground is gone, cabanas have been been added, and as Mark says, they have "tweaked" things over the years. Many customers have been coming here each summer for years.

St Mary Lake is stocked with trout and bass and some people come for that reason alone. No power boats are allowed on the lake; paddles, oars, sails and small electric motors are the only form of propulsion on the lake. That and swimming.

Nearby are other "resorts" and the home of famous CBC Radio personality Randy Bachman, who always seems to be mowing his lawn (or perhaps that is someone else, one never knows with radio celebrities).

Mark shares a humorous moment with Sherry. Did I say something?

Lakeside Gardens has a website, but it's always best to phone or email for information and reservations. That personal touch is part of the charm of the place too.

July 17, 2013

Lakeside Gardens Resort at St Mary Lake on Salt Spring

Four years ago I began to visit a place on Salt Spring Island called Lakeside Gardens. Sherry has been coming here for ten years and she introduced me to its charm and beauty.

Lakeside Gardens Resort sits on a narrow property on the east side of St Mary Lake about 6 km from Ganges. To call it a resort conjures up all sorts of images, at least it did for me before I arrived four years ago. In fact, it is rustic and one-step above camping. If camping isn't your thing, and if going up to the big house to use the facilities isn't a lifestyle choice you care to make, this probably isn't for you, and that would be unfortunate because you will be missing out on something truly wonderful.

There are two self-contained cabins each featuring facilities and a fire place, but they are removed from the lakefront. The dozen or so cabanas are mostly at the water's edge and offer a loft type of bed (a mattress on boards would be a better description), outdoor cooking, lights and power, and apart from your own food and towels, most everything you will need (sheets, dishes, cutlery, pots and pans, etc.).

Some of the cabanas are fairly private, secluded behind trees and tall grasses. Our favourite cabana, number seven, is literally on the lake and the view offered at sunrise is breathtaking. In fact the changing views through the entire day are fantastic, as are the sounds of the lake.

Through the day the light dances on the lake in a myriad different ways, eagles soar overhead, ducks and geese glide past. Early in the morning the song birds delight and in the cool of the evening the frogs celebrate the first stars.

The resort offers several grassy knolls, fishing, boating and swimming. It is the kind of place where a kid can be a kid. It is also a place for quiet and peace, to get lost in a book or in yourself.

St Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island, and Lakeside Gardens. I love it here.

July 13, 2013

Vancouver Coffee Shops ~ Part 5: Trafiq

Trafiq Cafe & Bakery has two locations, one in West Vancouver and the one we visit on Main Street

The coffee is always first rate, consistently strong and nicely served by friendly staff. Freshly squeezed orange juice is a plus and highly recommended. The place has an orderliness about itself. This is an efficient operation and it shows.

Trafiq hosts a terrific bakery featuring all kinds on cakes, pies, pastries and more. Eat in, or take it home, it's all good stuff.