Sunday, January 3, 2016

City Fun -- Vancouver!

I have to admit that the last thing we really wanted to do on New Year's Day was leave the comforts of the woodstove in our island home to navigate through icy waters (check out the video I posted on Instagram if you think I'm exaggerating) just to visit the big city. Especially since we'd just seen all the kids we could see, short of taking a trip to Rome. . .


But our Christmas gift from one daughter's family was "Lunch and a Panto" with them, and we knew we'd enjoy ourselves once we got going. The pantomime (Hansel and Gretel, an East Van Panto) wasn't until the 2nd, but we decided to come over a day early to make sure we'd be on time for lunch beforehand. As well, we realize that we've allowed our city experiences to narrow lately, and finding something new together is always good for the couple-dom, right?


Wise decision. It meant we had time to get off the bus at an earlier stop than usual and stroll a different route looking for a place to eat. Serendipity and thoughts of the kimchi I'd just made with my daughter pulled us in the door at MDG Korean Restaurant on Denman Street. Yes, there was a wait for a table, but so worth the ten minutes shivering in the doorway (it was freezing -- literally -- outside and folks kept coming in and going out. . . Brrr!).  But once we were seated, service was quick and friendly. The menu was full of very enticing but completely unfamiliar dishes, so I did some quick research on the iPhone and we both ordered Dolsot Bibimbap (his pork, mine beef).
If, like us until just this year, you've never had Dolsot Bibimbap before, you might not know that the classic dish is brought to the table in the (very hot!) stone bowl in which it's been cooked. Plunge into its depths carefully to the sizzling rice layer beneath the circle of delectable and colourful finely chopped vegetables. Don't worry about the nearly raw appearance of that egg -- the albumen will have firmed up and turned white by the time you stir it into the mix. You will love every hot, savoury, healthy bite (hints of sesame, chili oil, garlic, the funkiness of shitake mushrooms, mmmmm) right down to the crunchy rice you will insist on scraping off the still warm bottom of the bowl just before you put down your chopsticks and sigh contentedly.

Then, if you're eating your first Bibimbap ever on a sunny cold January 1st in Vancouver's West End, you'll wrap your cashmere scarf more tightly than usual as you button up your peacoat, and you'll join the crowds moving toward the Polar Bear swim at the beach just a block or two away. You might spend ten minutes watching the brave or foolish and soon-to-be-very-cold swimmers before you walk contentedly home together. We hurried a bit. . . .after all, it was time for my nap. (What?! That staying-up-until-midnight thing really wears a woman out!)

I have a bit more to show-and-tell you about our two days in Vancouver, but I can't convince the photos I see in my new MacBook Air's photo file to come play nicely in Blogger. I'm confident they will, eventually, as these ones did, but we seem to have a time delay to contend with, something I'm inclined to blame on Wifi speed or interruptions or, you know, something tech....Disappointing, because I've even managed a What I Wore photo or two, and you know how long it's been since I last did that.  Watch this space, though, because I'll soon be posting again and sharing another yummy Vancouver meal/restaurant, and showing you What I Wore to the Panto.


Meanwhile, the other photos on this post are of my Saturday morning run through the fog on a lethally slippery route. Frosty but beautiful.

So, do you already know the delights of Bibimbap? Any other favourite Korean dishes to recommend? We're determined to work our way through the restaurant menu (everything's so reasonably priced!) so suggestions are very welcome. As well, I think we're going to try making Bibimbap at home, and I'd love to know if any of you already do that and have any pointers. Finally, I wish you all, one more time, and resoundingly, Happy New Year! I hope yours has started well, and if not, I hope it gets better and better from here. All the best in 2016! I hope you'll keep me company -- your reading and commenting is what keeps me writing.

32 comments:

  1. Congratulations on achieving your retirement goal of making kimchi!

    I have made bibimbap (recognized it when I saw your photo)but it may have been a simplified or westernized recipe. I don't remember anything about the rice. There was a lot of fine cutting and then separate cooking of the vegetables (in a skillet). I have a mandolin still in its box which would facilitate things. And almost anything is better with a soft egg on top!

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    1. You have a good memory, Georgia! Yes, I've ticked that off the list, happily.
      I have a mandolin still in its box as well -- a bit terrifying to be honest, the once or twice I've used it. We're in absolutely agreement about the improving effects of a soft egg topper!

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  2. This delightful post reminded me of how much I would like to return to Vancouver - and stiffens my resolve to do so! And now I have a wonderful restaurant to try . . . more motivation! Happy new year - you have started it off beautifully.

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    1. I hope you get back here, Marsha (and hope it's sunny, not rainy when you do!) Happy New Year to you as well!

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  3. Happy New year. I will definitley keep you company.

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    1. So glad to hear it, Givi! I think I left NY greetings on your last post, but let me say it again for good measure -- Happy New Year!

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  4. My friend's daughter in law is Korean and she prepared dinner for us once. She made something similar to wok dish I often make, but with eggs and some additional spices. I have forget its name but googling it now -it was bibimbap! Very tasty,so sorry we don't have Korean restaurant here(and young lady in question works in Vienna so I've lost the teacher)
    Beautiful start of the new year.
    And we have snow!!!
    Dottoressa

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    1. Lucky you to have had this dish made for you by a young friend, but bad luck she moved away. I'm guessing there are not too many "ethnic" restaurants in Croatia, other than Croatian ones. Is that the case?
      We have snow this morning as well, although only a very light skiff, unlikely to stay. Still, nothing says winter quite as clearly as the white stuff!

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    2. Italian,of course :-),French,Greek,Japanese,Chinese, sporadic :German,Mexican,Lebanese,Bosnian,Macedonian,Thai,fusion,Brasilian,Indian-only one-,Spanish......
      Only a few :-(
      I love different ethnic food,to prepare as well as to eat
      We have more than 50 cm of snow,it is beautiful in country but disaster in a city
      D

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  5. Korean is one of my favorite foods. I've started to learn how to cook Korean, which is tricky, a whole lot of new ingredients. So nutritious though, especially when combined with the kimchi. When we go to a Korean restaurant, of which there are a good number in Northern California, I tend to order tofu stew. YUM. Cooking, I'm more apt to focus on the beef, galbijjim, or grilled, etc.

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    1. I thought you might have this well in hand. Vancouver has developed a decent number of Korean restaurants over the last ten years or so, and a couple of my kids have first-generation Korean-Canadian friends who have taught them a few dishes. Tofu stew, eh? If you give it a YUM, I'll try it. Wonder if the Korean connotations of its Korean name conjure more saliva than its English rendition. . . .

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  6. Gorgeous photos! Regrettably, I've never been much into Korean food. I prefer Vietnamese when I opt to go alt-Japanese. But a couple of my friends are NUTS about Korean food so I've had a bit of experience with the menu. I love Korean architecture, fwiw.

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    1. We tried it at one of the first Korean restaurants out here about 15 years ago and weren't impressed enough to go back (and let's face it, Chinese and Japanese restaurants in Vancouver are tough to top in the Asian landscape here -- some top-notch stuff at all price points). And like you, I really like Vietnamese. But I've been hearing more and more about Korean, love the kimchi chahan we get at a favourite Gyoza spot, and decided a more sustained engagement was called for. And we're in now -- this may be the culinary commitment for 2016. Know nothing about Korean architecture, but will do some googling now. btw, daughter loves the Curio Serum A I gave her for Christmas!

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  7. You should borrow/buy Bee Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park for the little ones. Do you have Nana's library? I stayed up for New Year's Eve gig (M's, not mine) at an ANAF club and I was so tired the next day.

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    1. What's "Nana's library"? Is it a book? Tried googling but couldn't see anything. Or do you just mean do I keep a library here for the grandkids, in which case the answer is a resounding "YES!" I'll be sure to check out Bee Bim Bop, thanks!

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    2. No, it's a collection that you could share with all the little ones. I think that the Bee Bim Bop book even comes with a recipe.

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  8. Bulgogi is my favorite! Never tried the Bibimbap but will next time.

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  9. Hi Mater, Happy New Year! I have very limited experience of Korean food, only from the international food fair at the boys' school in Budapest. My favourite thing was mandu (I think), like potstickers.

    We had the usual quiet start to the year, gearing up for today, when we hosted a brunch for about 15 friends. It went very well indeed - we started at around 11 am and the last guests left after 5 pm. And, since we never knowingly undercater, we have leftovers galore!

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    1. That's ambitious, brunch for 15! And clearly lots of fun if you kept your guests around for so long. The leftovers to see you into mid-week would be a great bonus, helping ease the transition back into regular rhythms. Happy New Year!

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    2. Mater, we really just provided the food and then let them talk all afternoon! Most of them know one another but aren't together that often. We were also happy that 4 people that our other friends didn't know more than held their own - a good guest is a joy!

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  10. Haven't come across Korean food but it does look good. Desperate for something mega veg based after all the rich food of the past week or so. Still eating our way through our New Year's Day lunch leftovers here too. Love the aftermath of having had people round - no cooking for a couple of days and a variety of food on tap that it would be rude not to eat. And the opportunities for soup making are tiptop...

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    1. Yes, vegetables are at their most desirable in early January, I'd say. I managed to avoid too much indulgence throughout the season, and I am really grateful to my husband for keeping an abundant supply of vegetables in rotation on our plates. But still, I'm looking for soups and bean dishes and vegetable stews. In fact, I'm defrosting turkey stock this morning towards another big pot of soup --

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  11. Another Korean fan here, and what an appropriate way to begin the year: something new. I read this while eating breakfast and am already yearning for a visit to the wonderful friendly Korean resto one neighbourhood over!

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    1. And I suppose you can suit up for a snowy walk there, which will make the spicy delights even more appealing -- Enjoy! and Happy New Year to you!

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  12. I love Korean! Some things are gluten free and some are not. Bibimbap often is, if I avoid having meat in it. In any Korean restaurant there is always kimchi and rice, so I can always eat, often there is more. I want to learn to cook Korean, but have barely started, and what I eventually turn out may not be completely authentic due to the gluten issues, but I am looking forward to playing with new techniques and ingredients.

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    1. Another fan of the cuisine and another great resource -- like Lisa you're a competent and knowledgeable cook enthusiastic about trying new things. I may be checking in with both of you as I try to pick up one or two dishes/techniques.

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  13. So look forward to every post on Vancouver! Having visited there in September and falling in love with the city, I enjoy your photos immensely and constantly look to see if they are of places we visited. I took several iphone videos while in the city and so enjoy playing them. Happy New Year to you and your family! Janie

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    1. Thanks Janie, and Happy New Year to you as well! I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit to our city. This past year the weather was pretty spectacular for showcasing its charms. . .

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  14. We went out to Korea in 2014 to visit our son who lives in Seoul. Food was a revelation and not too tricky for a non-meat eater as there was so much to choose from. I loved gimbap and could have eaten it by the ton. Such fresh and clean tastes.

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    1. Yes! Fresh and clean is what I thought as well. I can't wait to try more. Lucky you to have a personal tour guide in Seoul (although yes, I see the downside of that as well, distance from our kids being tough in many ways)

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  15. That Korean meal looks yummy and what fun to watch it cook as you stir up the different treasures in the bowl. I am a true rookie in regards to Korean food, but my son-in-law, Kenji, is a true foodie and an incredible cook, so I am trying some new things- my stomach does not always co-operate so I tend to tip toe into different foods.

    I travelled to Alberta for Christmas so came home to an empty fridge and no motivation to fill it- a change from all those years of every treat imaginable and endless leftovers.

    All the walking I did through the woods near Moose Lake seemed warmer than slogging through the foot of snow that keeps inching upwards each day in the damper air in Kamloops- Prim and I are just shy of our daily goal of 4 miles most days- sigh! I so admire how you run almost daily in all kinds of conditions-my knees do well with walking but running is not in my past or future, much as I envy the joy of runners.

    I love to hear of your Vancouver adventures- sounds like loads of fun. My sister lived just off the Drive for many years and I miss our forays for coffee, wonderful meals, interesting shops, theatre we could walk to and incredible people watching opportunities. Happy New Year and here's to another year full of new retirement adventures.

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    1. Your return to an empty fridge makes it much easier to begin 2016 on a healthier note, right?
      Funny to think of Kamloops air being damp, from our perspective here, but it's all relative! 4 miles a day is worth patting yourself (and Prim) on the back, whether those miles are run or walked. I think finding the activity that brings us joy and we can maintain consistently is so important and so very individual.
      Be sure to let me know if you ever plan to come down to the big city, and I'll see if I can coordinate. It would be fun to get together after all these years!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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