Friday, December 2, 2011

The City Mouse

I promised that my next post would tell you where we ate our pre-opera dinner last Saturday in Vancouver, and I do like to keep a promise, so let me recommend to you the fine food, reasonable prices, attentive service, and attractive room right in the heart of the downtown core, all at Culinaria, the student-staffed showcase of the Art Institute of Vancouver's culinary program.

Sadly, my creative energy is locked away in the same drawer as any disposable time, and the key is being jealously guarded by that Professor's Conscience that insists I mark my papers in time to hand them back at exams (at which point the process will begin again, sigh!). I can tell you that presentation was exquisite, from the rectangular small plates brought just as our wine arrived, with three delightful amuse-bouches,  through my bison carpaccio starter and my succulent crab cakes, a starter dish ordered as a main, which was plenty for my appetite and left room for dessert -- crème brûlée (white chocolate & lavender, mmmmm). The crust on the crème brûlée  was too thick -- if they'd thrown in a few roasted peanuts, we could have called it peanut brittle -- but otherwise the meal was perfect . . . and really, how problematic is a bit too much burnt sugar?

Company was wonderful: opera friends had included us in a table of 8 they'd put together, and we very much enjoyed getting to know  our new acquaintances. Most impressive was how well the young server ensured that we were out in plenty of time to get to the theatre for a 7:30 curtain -- latecomers at the opera have to wait until intermission to be seated.  Overall a lovely evening, and we'll be sure to visit Culinaria again soon.  Especially since a meal that would have been $200 was closer to $100. . .

Which could be the segue I need to help me explain the photo of my new Marc Jacobs "mouse" shoes. Really, I've included them in this post because I had no food photos of our evening and I do think a picture enlivens a post. As well, there's been a dearth of lively around here, and definitely a dearth of anything style-wise, an interest of many of my readers, I know. But I thought I could make the case that the money we'd saved by eating at Culinaria rather than a pricier spot went toward buying my new shoes, paying for at least a few of those mouse-camouflaging studs.

In which case, in order to pay for a few more, perhaps we need to book several more evenings there. . . . Hmmm, like my economics?

Seriously, though, I think these shoes will go a long way to helping me "festive up" some clothes that do regular holiday duty. I wore them yesterday to feel festive while I marked, in black leggings and a black cashmere v-neck tunic. . . . tell me, what's making you feel festive these days?

And do you have a Culinary School in your 'hood? Have you checked it out yet? Is it a regular haunt?


  1. Creme brulee is tricky, I have tried and failed as I think a wee blowtorch is required and I am frightened by those contraptions!

    I like your rationale with thrifty meals out and luxe designer shoes...I wear those in a heart beat!

    I have a friend, once her kids were old enough to fend for themselves, took an apartment in Vancouver and spent the better part of a year at the culinary institute. BTW her dinner parties are above and beyond!

    At my staff party last night I wore black leggings and added festive patent bow tie flats by Stuart Weitzman, a black sleeveless tunic top, a grey and black striped waterfall jacket tied in the back with a large gross grain ribbon bow and my go to festive crystal necklace designed by Debbie K.

    Hope that you'll be getting some well deserved time off over the holidays.

    Hasn't our weather been glorious?
    Your island must be a haven and a respite for you after those busy days on campus.

  2. So completely wonderful and cute.

  3. Soon the marking will be over (for this round) and you'll be able to focus on more enjoyable prospects.

    I DO like your economics. But perhaps you should keep your career in literature, since I'm not certain that everyone would agree.

    My most recent shoe purchase is a pair of berry-colored suede flats. They make me smile every time I look at my feet.

  4. Dinner sounds wonderful, and the mouse flats have long been a favorite of mine.

  5. I rather like your economics as well. We do have a cooking school near here and we eat there quite often. It is not cheap, but you get so much more for your $ than most of the other nice restaurants around.

  6. Those shoes are right in your whimsical wheelhouse! Festive hasn't much been on our minds lately as we're finishing up the last dregs of clearing out the condo (and then we have to tackle the boxes that have migrated to our dining/living room floor!). But those shoes would put a smile on my face for sure!

    We did manage to have a short evening out last night and visited our favorite French brasserie here in town. It was a festive night: the owner's parents were visiting from Paris, we hadn't seen our favorite wine bartender in months, and the pumpkin creme brulee was delightful as was the dinner that preceded it. The owner was in a jolly mood and poured us a nice dessert wine to go with the brulee. Lovely evening.

  7. Those shoes are so adorable!

    Your meal sounds so fantastic! I really wish I had such a restaurant in my hood, but I guess I should just be grateful that my current town has some decent restaurants that aren't chains.

  8. The shoes are perfect, you work hard enough not to need to justify the cost, I am hoping I too can hit that price range one day!
    Yes, there is a cookery school in London; sadly it's over in the South West an area way off my radar, so we've never made it there. Here the best value food is via the pre-theatre menus or the set lunches, both remarkably good value and a great source of foodie love for me!

  9. Lesley: Your holiday outfit sounds perfect! Festive and elegant, both. As for the blowtorch, they're really not scary at all -- it's rather magic, actually. Paul makes crè brulée quite confidently now, a dangerous treat to have in-house!
    Lisa: Thanks.
    Lorrie: Shoes that make us smile are the goal -- enjoy!
    Nancy: Aren't they great? I thought they were a bit too girlishly cute in their earlier iterations, but the studs changed the mood a bit and I couldn't resist.
    Mardel: I thought of you when I wrote this as I know you have a great culinary institute you frequent.
    Sue: I love those kind of evenings, especially in restaurants that know you and feel like friends/family.
    Raquelita: That's important! Non-chain restaurants should be required in every town. They are such a definition of place, really, an expression of the local.
    Alison: Well, you won't get too much sympathy from me re the need to trek to a cooking school, given the plethora of cultural choices before you each and every day. . . have to go see what you were up to this weekend.

  10. Delicious! Both the shoes and your meal...


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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