November 21st, 2013
When rest, relaxation and renewal is in order, there's no better place than Arizona.
Listing the amenities of The Phoenician would take a long time (we would start with its nine swimming pools, three golf courses, and amazing spa) so trust us when we say it is a great place to stay. At the foot of Camelback mountain, this resort boasts an abundance of great dining, spacious rooms or suites, and stunning desert views. Try a morning hike (see below) or a yoga walk of the property, with breaks for downward dogs. And if you aren't into golf, tennis, hiking, or spa-ing, then their top notch poolside service will ensure you are cocktail-hydrated and comfortable in the shade, or sun, all day. The Phoenician, 6000 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, Arizona, 480-941-8200, www.thephoenician.com
Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden has one of the largest collections of desert plants, featuring over 50,000 species. The options are endless in this beautiful space: enjoy a tour of the gardens, book a healthy cooking class (we loved ours with Rachel Albert, see more below), learn some gardening tips from an expert, visit the butterfly pavilion, watch a concert, practice sundown yoga in the wildflower atrium, or attend one of their luminaries events, where you can stroll around the candlelight gardens with a drink. From November 10 to May 18, there is a Chihuly exhibition, where you’ll be able to check out his spectacular glass sculptures amongst ancient cacti. These gardens are a must-see while in Arizona. Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway Phoenix, Arizona, 480-941-1225, www.dbg.org
The Gladly is a new restaurant that specializes in a mix of comfort food, southern favourites and modern cuisine. We loved the grilled Brussels sprouts served over corn grits, and their coffee charred short ribs come highly recommended. They also boast a fantastic cocktail list featuring new takes on the classics, and an enormous whiskey menu that you can drink served over a purified ice ball that they will prepare for you at the table. Mains start at $20. The Gladly, 2201 East Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona, 602-759-8132, www.thegladly.com
The perfect early morning or evening workout, Camelback mountain features a 1.5 mile hike up the side of the mountain. Access the Cholla trail via Cholla lane and pack lots of water. Don’t try this midday, the heat is unbearable. The locals call this a difficult hike, but if you're a grouse grinder, you’ll breeze through in 70 minutes return. www.phoenix.gov
Head out towards Mesa and Gilbert are suburbs of Phoenix is located a 20 drive from Phoenix. Try a paddle board lesson with No Snow Stand Up Paddle at Saguaro Lake (yes, there are lakes in Arizona), have lunch at the trendy Joyride Taco, buy some chocolate flavoured olive oil or handmade, natural beauty products from the Queen Creek Olive Mill, and finish with an award-winning cupcake at The Coffee Shop at Agritopia (pictured), an urban farm oasis where people live in beautiful homes between vegetable fields, orchards, and a 24 hour honour-system farmers market (sigh).
—Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
November 15th, 2013
Fried chicken and pickled vegetables, gluten free scones with spiced apple preserve, thick chunks of maple smoked bacon: these are the type of hearty and artfully refined dishes coming out of the kitchen at Burdock & Co, whose new brunch is quickly grabbing the mid-day spotlight on Main Street.
Sidle up to the barn-board walls, sling your parka onto a vintage hook, and order up coffee (with refills set on the table) or opt for a glass of the all-organic wine list. Vintage cutlery and natural linens add a farmhouse feel, while the presentations and flavours (don't miss the wild mushrooms served over sunchoke homous) are as sophisticated as a fine dining spot.
Wishing it wasn't time to leave? You can always come back for dinner. —Sarah Bancroft
Burdock & Co., weekend brunch 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 2702 Main St., Vancouver, 604-879-077, www.burdockandco.com
October 9th, 2013
While we can all appreciate a night out crammed into a sweaty bar, these days we find ourselves choosing our venues based on whether there will be room for us to sit down.
The Emerald, a new Chinatown supper club, is making sure that everyone has a seat, and is encouraging us to park and get comfortable. With large tables best suited to groups, a spacious layout so you can’t hear your neighbour’s conversation, and a killer list of classic and modern cocktails (from $7), this is one spot you won’t want to leave. Featuring a menu full of Old Vegas inspired favourites (think Spaghetti and meatballs, Chicken Parmesan, and a homemade Peking Duck), they don’t take any bookings past 8 p.m. – because they expect you to stay.
And stay you will, because the booths are comfy, the lights are dimmed, the cocktails are delicious, and by 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, there’s no way you are giving up that seat. —Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
The Emerald, 555 Gore St., Vancouver, 604-559-8477, www.the-emerald.ca
P.S.: The Emerald also offer Vegas Style Breakfast Buffets which includes a Make Your Own Ceasar cart. We’re sold.
October 4th, 2013
You spent Friday night catching up on your PVR and Saturday night at a dry dinner party; don't worry, there's still hope for the weekend.
On the last Sunday of every month, West Oak has introduced a Social Brunch (read: champers). The menu of weekend staples like sausage, bacon and eggs are served family style, along with Moët & Chandon Champagne. With exposed brick walls, industrial lightening and an in-house Sunday afternoon DJ, this is one daytime party that can easily carry into the night.
So, what are we celebrating next? —Maria Tallarico
$25/4 courses and a glass of champagne (per person), 1035 Mainland St., Vancouver, www.westoakrestaurant.com
September 6th, 2013
Egotistical characters, backstabbing, cat fighting - no, this isn't an episode of Real Housewives, it's the underbelly of the restaurant world. Herewith, the food-centric Twitter accounts that serve up the dishiest food news.
The Braiser is attached to the the fantastic food blog of the same name, combines US Weekly-style gossip, cringe-worthy food tv show clips and hot-button topics like tipping. https://twitter.com/TheBraiser
Created as a nom de plume used poke fun at the sometimes-pretentious world of food, Ruth Bourdain has been revealed as New Jersey freelance writer Josh Friedland. The avatar photo (a mashup of Ruth Reicl and Anthony Bourdain) is good for a terrifying chuckle and the commentary is still biting. https://twitter.com/RuthBourdain
And speaking of Bourdain, Twitter is the perfect spot for his no-holds-barred attitude. Bourdain doesn't suffer fools (even famous ones) gladly - and he even posts a food photo once in a while. https://twitter.com/Bourdain
Celebrities love Toronto chef Susuar Lee's restaurants (and he ain't afraid to show it). His restos will be a hot spot during TIFF, but even if you can't make it in for meal, he posts DIY videos for his favourite dishes. https://twitter.com/susurlee
August 29th, 2013
This week, our Victoria guest editor Sarah Roberts shows us a Victoria beyond the ferry terminal.
Oak Bay Beach Hotel is a historic landmark that was lovingly rebuilt and reopened in late 2012, totally refreshed and ready to welcome locals and visitors to its gorgeous perch beside the ocean. Book a weekend getaway and treat yourself to the sweeping views and seaside outdoor pool and hotel spa. www.oakbaybeachhotel.com
Just a block away from where all the tourists flock, Black Hat Bistro has a beyond-delicious menu and a gorgeous room featuring live music you don't have to yell over. It’s the perfect spot for a cozy dinner for two. The chef is a local, the seafood is fresh, and everything is made from scratch. 1005 Langley St., Victoria, www.theblackhat.ca
There’re two Pizzeria Prima Strada locations: one that's an insane wait (on Cook street), the other is where the locals go (Bridge street) and don't wait…as long. If I was having a 'no carb left behind' moment like in Eat Pray Love I would eat here every night - their fire-roasted thin crust pizza is so good they don't deliver. If you’re coming to town with the kids, take them here and order them up the Bambino pizza. www.pizzeriaprimastrada.com
There’s nothing else in town quite like the beautifully curated Nest & Cradle that carries a little of everything: J Brand denim, things for little babes, candles, home decor and jewelry to swoon over. You’ll definitely find something you can’t live without. 554 Yates St., Victoria, www.mynestandcradle.com
Bicycle culture is big time in Victoria, and Le Vélo injects style into cycling with their accessories and apparel shop online. Its last pop-up shop was at Fol Epi bakery (another delicious local spot to check out) on August 25. No two baskets are alike, and the partnership House of Talents has with the artisans does great things for the community where they’re made - style and substance. http://levelovictoria.co
August 23rd, 2013
It's Monday night - do you know where your hearty vegetarian dinner is?
At the now-classic Irish Heather Long Table series, that's where. What started off as a way to share a hearty Sunday roast with strangers has turned into one of the hippest meals in the city. Meatless Monday is no exception: with vegan dishes sourced by Sole Food Street Farms (which grows its veggies just a few blocks away from Irish Heather), we chowed down on mixed vegetables, breaded lentils and a grilled portobello mushroom with a balsamic reduction. This dinner party is as as budget-friendly as ever - $16 covers your meal, plus a beer (in this case, a Kronenbrug Blac).
And did we mention the cute Irish accents….
The Irish Heather, 212 Carrall St., Vancouver, www.itsmenu.blogspot.ca; for reservations email email@example.com
August 16th, 2013
Neil Young on vinyl, cozy woodsy room… we’ve found our new sweet spot.
Farmer's Apprentice, the new restaurant by David Gunawan (formerly of Wildebeest), feels much more like a gathering of friends to celebrate the harvest than just a simple evening out for dinner.
The menu changes with the season, but acquaint yourself with the Smoked Castelvaerano Olives ($4). The Pork Terrine ($10), braised with shaoxing wine and served with pickled vegetables, is a sumptuous start. A poached halibut ($19), served with artichoke barigoule and summer vegetables, warms the heart. Save room for the Beeswax Ice Cream ($8), served with apricots, alfalfa honey and granola, the perfect way to celebrate the summer's bounty.
1535 West 6th, Vancouver, 604-620-2070, http://farmersapprentice.ca
July 24th, 2013
Sure our phone has become a laptop/daytimer/map/, but taking eating advice from an app can kind of feel like a blind date (you could end up with George Clooney, or George Costanza).
Chefs Feed has the recommendation you need, from the expert you want - top chefs all across Canada who pinpoint specific meals at their favourite restaurants. First launched in the US with recos from Thomas Keller and Mario Batali, the app recently launched in Canada (Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal) and includes notables like David Hawksworth in Vancouver (a fan of mutton kebobs from Vij's) and Daniel Boulud in Toronto (he's partial to the spicy squid at Grand Electric).
From under-the-radar ramen spots to fine dining pappardelle, this is one blind date we know will be love at first bite.
July 23rd, 2013
Food trucks may rule the streets, but a bricks and mortar lunch spot still holds a place in our heart (and our stomach).
With a selection of just four (count 'em, 4!) menu items, you may still find if difficult to decide on what to order at grilled cheese mecca Cheat Day.
Being an expat (and former "Georgia peach"), I made a beeline for the most apropos sammy (and also the chef's fave), Her Name Was Brie ($8). Oozing with a (un)healthy portion of brie, and grilled on brioche with peach chunks, peach gastrique and caramelized onions, this option lives up to the restaurant moniker. Those with something simple in mind can select the Classic with Quebec three year old aged cheddar ($5). Want to upgrade? Order yours with bacon and egg in a basket for an extra $2.
If cheat day is wrong, we don't wanna be right. —Laura Cropper
Cheat Day, 552 Seymour St., Vancouver, 604-616-9458, www.cheatday.ca