March 27th, 2012
by Sheliza Mitha
Step up and join millions of people and organizations around the world by turning off your electricity and electronics during the annual Earth Hour event on Saturday, March 31st at 8:30pm. Organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Earth Hour is the largest environmental event in history, and is meant to raise awareness and take action about the effects of climate change.
So… no lights, no electricity, no electronics. What’s a person to do for that long, dark hour?
Not to worry, Burnaby offers up a range of options and opportunities to help you pass the time – whether you’re opting for a night out or a night in. Here are some “bright” activities and ideas for Earth Hour:
Enjoy a memorable and enchanting candlelit dinner at the Riverway Clubhouse.
Get unplugged at the Delta Grand Villa’s EBO Restaurant and Lounge, which will shut off its lights and turn on the music with an acoustic guitarist – and feature some tasty snacks and green drink specials made by Chef Dan Craig and his crew. (Plates will also be shared that require no use of energy.)
Pack a picnic and make your way to Burnaby Mountain for some stargazing. After all, when was the last time you tried looking for the North Star or the Big Dipper?
Take a walk around your neighbourhood and see what your neighbours have switched off. While you’re at it, pack a thermos of coffee or tea (prepared in advance of Earth Hour, of course) to bring with you and share with your neighbours.
Camp at home by pitching a tent in your backyard or even inside your living room. Throw some cushions down, cozy up with some blankets, share stories and relax with some hot chocolate. You could even try roasting marshmallows by candlelight!
Here are some other fun activities and ideas for Earth Hour:
- Fondue! A fun and delicious meal… and no electricity required.
- Play charades and board games by candlelight.
- Enjoy a family dinner by candlelight.
- Have a candle-lit bath. (Even more fun with two!)
- Prepare and feast on a raw food dinner with your family / friends.
- Host a wine tasting with your friends.
- Read books to your kids by flashlight. (They’ll love it.)
- Lastly, take that well-deserved nap. (It’s a win-win: conserve your own energy while helping our planet do the same.)
For more information on this worldwide environmental movement, visit Earth Hour.
Share some of your suggestions for Earth Hour in the comments section below!
Posted in Annual | [ 1 Comment ]
March 21st, 2012
by Sheliza Mitha
There are few meals in a lifetime of eating that are worth relishing and remembering. For me, dining at The Pear Tree is one of them.
In anticipation of the annual Dining Out For Life event on March 29th, which supports A Loving Spoonful and Friends for Life, my husband and I had the pleasure of recently dining at The Pear Tree. And the praise you may have already heard about this establishment is all true and worthy.
Indeed, since The Pear Tree opened its doors 14 years ago, chef and co-owner Scott Jaeger has garnered countless awards and reviews for his culinary skills – not the least of which include Vancouver Magazine’s “Chef of the Year” and the magazine’s “Best of the ‘Burbs” award year-after-year, as well as a coveted Zagat rating and numerous other recognitions.
We had actually been meaning to try The Pear Tree since hearing about it from some foodie friends of ours many years ago who consider it their favorite restaurant in Metro Vancouver. Because of this, we walked in with unusually high expectations and hopes for this particular dining experience. Which, I have to admit, can be a recipe for disaster.
After all, how many times have we gone to a movie or restaurant fully expecting to be amazed and inspired by the experience? More often than not, though, we end up walking away in disappointment and frustration – and kicking ourselves for having such unreasonable expectations in the first place. Well this, in a nutshell, was my fear as I entered the cozy, warm and elegant space, which seats no more than about 50 guests in an intimate dining experience.
Fortunately, The Pear Tree did not disappoint.
Our intimate dining experience also led way to some remarkably stellar service, especially the warm and personal greeting we received from co-owner Stephanie Jaeger.
Together, Stephanie and her chef husband have created a small but ample winning menu that serves up a daily “Table d’Hote” (literally meaning “host’s table” in French) with a full three courses that rotates every two to three weeks. The rest of their menu, however, stays fairly consistent.
Since every proper meal begins with an aperitif (we are out without the kids, after all), I indulged in a Kir Royale (champagne and cassis), while my husband ordered himself a Tom Collins. We were off to a great start already.
My husband and I had heard some amazing reviews of their Spot Prawn Cappuccino – one of their signature dishes – which is what I began with. Incredulously, it had the consistency, color and creaminess of a cappuccino. One spoonful in, though, and the deception was clear. This “cappuccino” was a rich, smooth bisque with pieces of tender prawns, served with miniature pastries that are absolutely perfect for soaking up the fine “cappuccino” foam.
For a starter, my husband decided on the Witloof Salad, which was as pretty as it was delicious with watercress, candied walnuts, shaved slices of aged Gouda and topped with just the right amount of Okanagan Pear Dressing. After devouring his salad, his exact comment to me was, “Wow, I could have that again for dinner.” (And this from a man who loves his meat.)
Next up, our entrees. I chose from the restaurant’s Table d’Hote menu: Atlantic Lobster Tail with Lobster Mac & Cheese, while my husband selected the Twice Cooked ‘Berkshire’ Pork Belly With Spot Prawn and Tomato Cassoulet from their regular menu.
As with the starters, our meals were plated beautifully – more like works of art than dinners meant to be consumed in a matter of minutes. But, that’s why we were there. So feast we did. Our dinners also came with a bright, fresh side of pea shoot salad, tossed with a light maple glaze vinaigrette.
To accompany my main, I ordered a light pinot gris (8th Generation from Summerland, BC), which complemented the lobster tail perfectly. The lobster, itself, was flawless – fresh and tender with just the right amount of bite and subtle flavoring.
As for my husband, one bite into his pork belly and he was lost to me during most of our dinner together. With little interest in conversation or much of anything else, he took bite after bite of his entrée in a silent and contented state of near-meditation. I didn’t get through to him until partway through his cassoulet, at which point he described to me the expertly crafted layers of his dish: crispy, meaty, savoury.
Realizing that The Pear Tree is really the ultimate in fine dining, which usually means petite and extremely pretty entrees, we (I must admit) weren’t expecting to be full after dinner. However, the size of our meals was unexpectedly substantial, and so we were surprised to find ourselves leaning back in our seats afterwards, feeling quite satiated and full. And normally, at that point, we would pay the bill and call it a night. But, being at The Pear Tree, this isn’t our “normally” and so we forced (yes, forced!) ourselves to go on. Refusing to share my dessert no matter how full I felt, my husband and I each ordered our own.
For dessert, my husband selected the Fresh Lemon Tart With Lemon Sour Cream Sorbet – another of the restaurant’s signature dishes and the chef’s personal favorite, according to our server, Omar. Despite my chocolate addiction, Omar talked me into ordering his favorite Pear Tree dessert: Vanilla Crème Brulee, which I ordered along with some coffee that came in a very sleek French Press (mais, oui!).
Though crème brulee is a favorite of mine as well, and something that I’ve eaten countless times, this version of the dessert is nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Topped with fresh pineapple, blueberries and raspberries, the crème brulee was also adorned with a stunning caramel-y “brandy snap,” and – as delicious as that was – it was honestly just uphill from there. The crème brulee was sweet, but not overly so, and with the consistency and creaminess of ice cream combined with custard. In a word, it was… miraculous.
As for my husband’s lemon tart, well it was already half devoured by the time I looked up from my spectacular-looking dessert. I finally managed to get a bite in (much to the chagrin of my husband). The tart was moist, with just the right combination of tangy sweetness to satisfy that inevitable post-dinner sweet tooth. I found the accompanying lemon sour cream sorbet to be even more delicious than the tart, itself, with its slight fruitiness and light, smooth texture.
The end of our evening came much too soon. But, it’s nice to know that The Pear Tree is so accessible, with Burnaby being home to such an impressive, remarkable and renowned restaurant and chef. Chef Scott Jaeger has, in fact, represented Canada in the prestigious Bocuse D’Or, a worldwide cooking competition, and has been recognized as the BC Restaurant Association’s Restaurateur of the Year (1998), as well as the BC Chef’s Association Chef of the Year and the Georgia Straight’s Chef of the Year in 2007.
The Pear Tree also happens to be one of several Burnaby restaurants participating in the Dining Out For Life event on March 29th – which means you can eat well and do some good at the same time. This year, The Pear Tree is among some 250 restaurants from Whistler to White Rock and across the Fraser Valley that will contribute 25% of their sales that day to people living with HIV/AIDS.
So this year, invite your friends and dine out on March 29th… making a difference never felt (or tasted) so good!
Sheliza Mitha is a freelance writer and editor based in Burnaby, BC.
Posted in Restaurants, The Heights & North Burnaby | [ No Comments ]
March 19th, 2012
The current exhibit at the SFU Art Gallery, the collaboration between Vancouver artists Michelle Allard and Khan Lee, occupies much of the space within gallery, and engages visitors to draw both connections and disconnections between the two installations. Allard and Lee had not met prior to these collaborative installations for Circulation Patterns, but had been invited by guest curator Rachel Rosenfield Lafo to join forces due to the minimalism and points of intersections in their respective works. Continue reading →
Posted in Art | [ No Comments ]
March 14th, 2012
They say that good things come in pairs, and in the case of Dining Out For Life, this statement holds true. On Thursday March 29th, 2012, over 200 participating restaurants across the Lower Mainland will be donating 25% of your food bill for breakfast, lunch, or dinner towards two great organizations: A Loving Spoonful and Friends For Life. Eating great food AND helping out a great cause? Definitely a winning combination. The event is in its 11th year, and there are 55 cities across Canada and the USA participating. Continue reading →
Posted in Restaurants | [ No Comments ]
March 8th, 2012
by Lima Al-Azzeh
In my interview with playwright, performer and lighting designer Itail Erdal, he made it clear that he does not consider himself an actor, rather, he knows himself to be a very good storyteller. Last night, at the opening night of his much lauded one man show “How to Disappear Completely”, I came to fully understand just how true Erdal’s description of himself really is.
While the subject of Erdal’s multi-media play seems morbid to the uninitiated – a family’s last days with their dying mother –he treats the subject with such reverence and charm, it’s hard to see it as anything but a true celebration of life, as opposed to a 70 minute pontification on death and illness. Continue reading →
Posted in Central Burnaby & Deer Lake Park, Performance | [ No Comments ]
March 8th, 2012
by Tourism Burnaby Staff
March 6th, 2012
by Lima Al-Azzeh
How do you commemorate loved ones who have passed on? Every person has their method, but few people choose to memorialize their loved ones through film, and later a much talked about multi-media one man show. This, in a nutshell, is the story of Itai Erdal, his beloved mother and the show sure to make you feel every emotion on the spectrum, “How to Disappear Completely”.
Written by Erdal in collaboration with James Long (Director), Anita Rochon, and Emelia Symington Fedy, “How to Disappear Completely” uses a blend of film footage, translation and lighting (Erdal is a celebrated lighting designer by trade) to tell the story of the final days of his mother, Mery, indeed the story of her entire life, as captured in her final moments in her native Israel. The show opened last year at the Chutzpah! Festival to much acclaim, even garnering the title of “a work of art” by the Georgia Straight. Continue reading →
Posted in Central Burnaby & Deer Lake Park, Performance | [ No Comments ]
March 1st, 2012
With the inconsistency of Lower Mainland weather in the past couple of weeks, the search for indoor activities is an ongoing effort. Whether you are looking for an activity for the whole family, hanging out with friends, or playing organized hockey, Burnaby 8 Rinks is the perfect place where all those options are possible. Continue reading →