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Hot Dining: Vancouver Spots that Make Bomb Girls Jodi Balfour Tick

Bomb Girls bombshell, Jodi Balfour. Photo by Kyla Hemmelgarn

Bomb Girls bombshell, Jodi Balfour. Photo by Kyla Hemmelgarn

Jodi Balfour’s career is blowing up in the best possible way. The South African actress plays Gladys Witham—a socialite turned munitions factory worker—on the Canadian television drama Bomb Girls.

She loves stepping into the role of Gladys. The wardrobe helps her adopt a 1940s mindset, but her transformation isn’t complete until she slips on Gladys’s shoes: “I consider that the crossing-over point,” she says. (more…)

Hot Dining: Bivalve Bonanza in Vancouver

"Oyster Bob" and a selection of oysters at Joe Fortes

“Oyster Bob” and a selection of oysters at Joe Fortes. Photo by KK Law

Although BC boasts succulent Dungeness crab, superb sablefish and sweet-meated scallops, oysters are among the freshest and most readily available year-round seafood. And “buck a shuck” is a popular after-work pastime. One of the more popular spots, Joe Fortes has no shortage of the likes of Kusshi, Ship’s Point, Chef Creek, Sinku and Effingham, as does Rodney’s Oyster House and Chinatown’s Oyster Express, to mention just a few.—Tim Pawsey

Hot Dining: Gastown’s Wildebeest Embraces the Nose-to-Nail Movement

Wildebeest photo by KK Law

A bold salute to the burgeoning nose-to-tail movement, Gastown’s Wildebeest embraces down-to-earth eating, with the likes of beef tongue and bone marrow. Chef David Gunawan (formerly of West) delivers farm-sourced proteins such as 48-hour braised short rib, and delicious pork jowl anointed with bourbon-barrel maple syrup. Vegetarian options? They’re few but good, while seafood selections include olive-oil-poached halibut and steelhead trout.—Tim Pawsey

Hot Shopping: Gastown’s Old Faithful Shop Honours The Past

The Vancouver market bag, at Old Faithful Shop

Make your way to historic Gastown and stop by Old Faithful Shop for a blast from the past. The stunning brick and glass emporium pays tribute to the bygone era of general stores with a mishmash of collectables, housewares and tasty treats. Fruit syrups come in amber-coloured medicine-style jars, and lanterns and exposed-bulb lamps offer a subtle nod to our founding fathers. And there’s no better way to carry home a treasure trove of newfound goodies than in the Vancouver market bag (pictured), a tote with waterproof lining, leather handles and antique rivets—a delightfully old-school touch.—Jennifer Patterson

Hot Dining: Spanish Tapas at Gastown’s The Sardine Can

The Sardine Can may be teensy, but it delivers big flavours: patatas bravas, made of fried potatoes in spicy tomato sauce. Photo by KK Law

Gastown’s aptly named The Sardine Can may be compact but it’s hardly cramped. Head early or late to grab one of 19 stools, then savour authentic Spanish tapas such as smoked sardines on toast; chorizo, potato and octopus stew; meatballs in tomato and Rioja wine sauce; patatas bravas; and a bevy of chalkboard specials. Spanish sherries and affordable wines rule the wine list, and desserts range from dulce de leche to chocolate terrine served with chili, sea salt and olive oil.—Tim Pawsey

Hot Dining: Great Gastown Restaurants

Exposed brick and cool light fixtures make Cork & Fin hip. Photo by KK Law

Modern flavours contrast heritage rooms at myriad Gastown haunts. Aptly named Cork & Fin (pictured) lures with fresh seafood such as scallop ceviche and smoked-in-house sablefish, in an intimate red-brick setting. Tucked away in the turn-of-the-last-century Le Magasin building, casual Nu Greek tempts with addictive baklava muffins, souvlaki and pita, baked daily. For excellent Neapolitan wood-fired pizza, visit Nicli Antica Pizzeria, which serves the ultimate margherita di bufala, marinara, funghi and more. Find super fresh rolls, cones and bento at sardinesque Sea Monstr Sushi, or, for modern tapas, head to equally compact and edgy Judas Goat Taberna.—Tim Pawsey

Hot Entertainment: The Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix Bike Race

Gastown Grand Prix photo courtesy Greg Descantes

The cobblestoned streets of Gastown come alive Jul. 11 for the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix. This thrilling race attracts elite cyclists from around the world—including, back in 1991, Lance Armstrong—with a route that loops around landmarks such as the Gastown Steam Clock and statue of Gassy Jack. The action starts at 5:45 p.m., but arrive early, as 45,000 spectators are expected.—Sheri Radford

Hot Dining: Casual Restaurants for Quick Eats

The tiny Notturno Paninoteca serves big flavours. Photo by KK Law

These no-nonsense, casual and usually busy eateries offer flavour-packed fare to satisfy appetites on the run.

1 Notturno Paninoteca Compact but classy Gastown foodie hangout with a truly European feel. Go for the panini and bruschetta, paired with smartly picked wines.

2 La Taqueria Pinche tacos, quesadillas and more. Tasty, authentic Mexican street food, made with local and sustainable ingredients, served in bright, cozy rooms.

3 Big Lou’s Butcher Shop Wallet-friendly báhn-mi, roast beef sandwiches and giant pastrami on rye at a friendly combo butcher shop and take-out counter.

4 Patisserie Lebeau Irresistible savoury or sweet Belgian waffles (try the poached-pear with caramel sauce), sandwiches, croissants and other delights, a stone’s throw from Granville Island.

5 Sciué Popular downtown and Yaletown panini spots for fresh pasta, flatbread and pastries in a lively atmosphere.

An Interview with Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver Concierge Stéphane Mouttet

Stéphane Mouttet, Chef Concierge of the Shangri-La Hotel and current director of Les Clefs d'Or, BC region

Stéphane Mouttet is the Chef Concierge of the Shangri-La Hotel and also the director of Les Clefs d’Or, BC region. Having spent his childhood and youth in Grenoble, France, and his adult life in Canada, Stéphane is the perfect embodiment of “old world meets the new world.” While he possesses the easy charm and warmth of North American hospitality, he was trained in the true traditional European sensibilities.

What do you recommend for a visitor who has just one day to sightsee in Vancouver?

Take a quick tour of the city to have a great overview, and explore local neighbourhoods such as Gastown (tourist area with a local vibe), Main Street (hipster) and Commercial Drive (Italian/European).

Or one afternoon?

Granville Island and Stanley Park or Grouse Mountain. (more…)

Hot Dining: Perfect Pints at Gastown’s Bitter Tasting Room

Bitter Tasting Room. Photo by KK Law

It’s all about the beer at Bitter Tasting Room. This beautifully restored 1909 Gastown ale emporium offers only the best craft brews on tap and by the bottle, from BC and beyond. Purists hoist freshly poured pints of Driftwood Fat Tug IPA, R&B Milk Stout and Unibroue’s heavy Maudite, while a suitably matched gastropub menu tempts with cassoulet, Scotch eggs and artisan links by master sausage maker Drews Driessen. BC wines are also offered for the less hop-headed.—Tim Pawsey

Hot Shopping: Cool Gastown Shops

Local store Sharks + Hammers

Take a walk down Gastown’s cobblestone streets to find a couple of the city’s coolest tucked-away shops. Sharks + Hammers (pictured) carries a mix of in-house designs, pieces from other local designers and a select collection of items from labels such as iconic Pendleton and Ransom by Adidas. Popular purchases seen around town: eye-catching EastVan tees and the cheeky “I went to EastVan and all I got was mugged” coffee mug. Stussy, just around the block, stocks graphic tees, sunglasses, caps and shoes.—Jennifer Patterson

Hot Dining: 4 Tasty Taphouses

Dockside tempts with pan-fried chilli squid (front) and sauteed tiger prawns (back). Photo by KK Law

The burgeoning beer scene here yields no shortage of hop-friendly dining.
1 Dockside (pictured) Discover Granville Island’s “other” brewery and dine in vista-kissed surroundings.
2 Howe Sound Brewing Take a 45-minute trip to Squamish to sample Howe Sound Lager with seafood chowder or ale-braised pork sliders.
3 Steamworks Enjoy freshly brewed quaffs, such as Lions Gate Lager, in a brass-trimmed, wood-panelled Gastown pub overlooking the harbour.
4 Yaletown Brewing Grab a glass of Downtown Brown along with a steaming bowl of sliced beef tenderloin tip stroganoff in this red-bricked Yaletown haunt.—Tim Pawsey