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Jill Von Sprecken

Vancouver’s Hottest Brunch Spots

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Aug. 2019

Delicious waffles at Café Medina (Photo: Amy Ho)

Forget most important meal of the day—in Vancouver, brunch is the most important meal of the weekend. For proof, just look to the queues (rain or shine) outside the city’s hottest brunch spots. It’s worth the wait at Café Medina, famed for heavenly Liège waffles topped with milk-chocolate lavender sauce and Mediterannean-inspired brunch dishes like tagine. Perfectly poached eggs are on the menu at Yolks . Build your own eggs Benny or add them to French toast—and don’t miss the truffle-lemon hash browns. At Forage, rise and shine to capital-L local and capital-D delicious fare like corned-bison hash or duck-and-kale-topped frittata. There are no sleepy brunch staples at Jam Cafe , where red velvet pancakes are drizzled with cream cheese, and French toast is topped with fried chicken and pickled cabbage. Dishes like croque monsieur and ratatouille with eggs add French finesse to friendly Twisted Fork Bistro . Homestyle-themed Honey Salt brings a farm-to-table approach to everything from potato latkes to chicken and waffles. Try the Monkey Bread with honey bourbon sauce (and thank us later).

Mountain Magic: Vallea Lumina

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
June 2019

At Vallea Lumina (Jun. 7 to Oct. 13), a nighttime walk in the woods isn’t eerie—it’s enchanting. Located on Cougar Mountain, this immersive after-dark experience transforms the old-growth forest into a magical trail, where the trees talk and campfires come to life. The after-dark alchemy is another of The Adventure Group’s memorable offerings, although they had a little help from Montreal-based Moment Factory, a multimedia studio that’s collaborated on everything from Cirque du Soleil to Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show.

Visitors to this interactive light-and-sound display are first sworn in as rangers, tasked with finding two hikers who mysteriously disappeared into the woods. Follow their trail deeper into the forest, and take note as it transforms, becoming more ethereal with every step. The 1.5-km (0.8-mi) trail takes about an hour to complete—it all depends on how much ooh-ing and ahh-ing you do along the way. And to make the trek even easier, a free shuttle operates from Whistler. Let the magic begin.

Get the Scoop: Local Artisanal Ice Cream

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
May 2019

Photo ©Zivica Kerkez/Shutterstock.com

Vancouver has a sweet side—and it’s stocked with artisanal ice cream. Handmade small-batch scoops crafted from local ingredients are common to this trend, as are fun flavour combos and vegan options. Rain or Shine serves up handcrafted flavours like Blueberry Balsamic. On Taco Tuesday, get it in a delightfully messy taco-shaped waffle cone. Expect round-the-block queues at Earnest Ice Cream, where hyper-local, seasonal scoops like Spruce Bud are complemented by classic from-scratch flavours like Salted Caramel. When the folks at Mister say “small batch,” they mean it—everything is made to order using liquid nitrogen. Plant-based and dairy-free gelato in an astonishing number of flavours are Umaluma’s claim to fame. On the other side of the spectrum, La Glace’s pretty parlour churns up French-style scoops, meaning more eggs and more cream. Founded by award-winning gelato maestro James Coleridge, Uno Gelato is always adding new flavours to perennial favourites like Akbar Mashti (saffron) and Amarena Cherry. Sweet stuff.

The Sauce Pasta Cafe: Gourmet on the Go

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Apr. 2019

Tasty pasta at The Sauce

The answer to every pastavore’s prayers can be found at The Sauce Pasta Cafe. This tempting gourmet spot serves up dishes just like Nonna used to make—if your Nonna let you mix-and-match your noodles and sauce, that is. Choose from marinara, meat sauce, creamy wild mushroom and more, all made fresh in-house daily, and then pair with your preferred pasta. The best part? It’s meant to be taken out, for enjoying at nearby English Bay, Stanley Park or Coal Harbour. A scrumptious meal in a spectacular setting—no wicker basket required.

Heavenly Holiday: the Sunny Citrus Vacation Package at Absolute Spa

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Apr. 2019

The Hawaiian Coconut Lomi Lomi massage soothes muscles

Vancouver’s soggy reputation holds water—even in springtime, the sunshine here is often of the liquid variety. But at Absolute Spa, the forecast is downright beachy thanks to the Sunny Citrus Vacation Package. The four-step pampering experience includes a body buff and wrap to keep skin radiant and glowy, topped off with a sandal-worthy pedicure. The cherry on top is the Hawaiian Coconut Lomi Lomi massage, which soothes muscles with pressure that mimics rolling waves. The best part? No sand in your suit.

Making Magic: Nurse Jamie UpLift Massaging Beauty Roller

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

The Nurse Jamie UpLift Massaging Beauty Roller

Fairy tales can come true. For proof, look no further than the Nurse Jamie UpLift Massaging Beauty Roller. This—dare we say it—magic wand has a hexagonal shape and 24 massaging stones designed to mimic a facial, for improved skin tone and a radiance boost. Plus, it doesn’t require any batteries, cords or outlets, making it perfectly portable. No wonder it’s loved by beauty editors and celebrities alike. This is one fairy tale with a happy ending. Start your own beauty-roller story at Sephora

Huge Art Fair Takes Over Vancouver Convention Centre East

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Photo courtesy Art Vancouver

Apr. 25 to 28, 2019 The city’s annual art extravaganza is returning for its fifth year, and it’s bringing plenty of eye candy along. Art Vancouver showcases cutting-edge works by over 100 sculptors, painters and photographers from around the world. Last year’s show drew more than 8,000 art admirers for a weekend of exhibits and events like the popular Face of Art runway show, where artists display their work to a crowd via catwalk. Speaker series, after-parties, workshops and a city-wide art crawl round out the experience. It promises to be a fair to remember.

One-of-a-Kind Buys at Litchfield

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Mar. 2019

Litchfield (Photo by KK Law)

Have home-decor hankerings? On the lookout for luxury goods? Then head to concrete-and-wood-trimmed Litchfield, a carefully curated Gastown boutique that has everything you want—plus a few things you didn’t know you needed (but really, really do). Most of the thoughtful decor, housewares and personal accessories are by emerging or unheard-of designers, while others are influenced by owner Jonathon Litchfield’s childhood in Japan. But everything is as functional as it is fashionable. On our just-gotta-have-it list: Hasami Japanese porcelain, WANT Les Essentiels bags, locally made Vitruvi fragrances, and Patchology’s On the Fly travel skincare kit. Guaranteed to satisfy any and all shopping desires.

Public Art: Acoustic Anvil in Olympic Village

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Mar. 2019

“Acoustic Anvil: A Small Weight to Forge the Sea” by Maskull Lasserre (Photo by KK Law)

Normally the tool of metalworkers or vengeful cartoon characters, anvils don’t often turn up in day-to-day life. Unless you happen to pass Leg-In-Boot Square, where Maskull Lasserre’s colossal installation “Acoustic Anvil: A Small Weight to Forge the Sea” arrived last fall. It’s part of the Vancouver Biennale, a public art exhibit that brings large-scale sculptures to the city’s streets. And although its landing place may seem haphazard, the aptly named square was actually once a place of industry, home to boat builders and stevedores. (It was also where a boot with a leg still in it was displayed in 1886, in hopes that the owner might return to claim it—hence the name.) The prodigious art piece isn’t just a nod to the past—it’s a tool-turned-instrument, thanks to the delicate violin f-hole that slices through the anvil’s centre. Put your ear to it and tune in to the sounds of the ocean, just as you would a conch shell. Hear that? It’s the sound of the area’s sea-bound past and future.

Truly Unusual Souvenirs

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Feb. 2019

Chinese-takeout-themed mug by Main and Local

Because you can’t bring the Steam Clock or Granville Island with you, there are Canadian-inspired souvenirs by Main and Local. The Montreal-based company specializes in Canadian and city-centric—from Toronto to Vancouver—keepsakes, with the encouraging tagline “souvenirs that don’t suck.” Fun, displayable take-home tokens include a poutine snow globe, sushi air freshener and Chinese-takeout–themed mug. After all, nobody really needs another souvenir that sucks. Stock up at Make or at www.mainandlocal.com.

Vancouver International Wine Festival Features Californian Wines

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Vancouver International Wine Festival photo by Marjo Wright

Feb. 23 to Mar. 3, 2019 There’s a lot to celebrate at the 41st annual Vancouver International Wine Festival. There are over 1,500 wines, 15 countries, 160 wineries and 54 events—trust us, the math is easier before the bacchanalia begins—which all adds up to one epic event. This year, California dreamers come out on top with 53 attending wineries from the Sunshine State, the showcase region in 2019. Take part in seminars, vintage tastings and winery dinners, or head straight to the festival’s hub: the International Festival Tastings. Ready, set, sip!

Alpine Escape for Foodies

By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Jan. 2019

Fresh fare at Aura (Photo by Joern Rohde/www.joernrohde.com)

For a post-piste vibe that’s serene and scenic, head to Aura in Zen-like Nita Lake Lodge. Outside are views of a gorgeous glacier-fed lake, while inside the modern decor includes bold-and-beautiful artworks like “Dynamic Herd,” seven brightly coloured galloping deer sculptures. On the plate, find farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients prepared with French flair, like roasted beet salad with horseradish crème fraîche or butternut squash farro risotto. Picturesque and peaceful—now that’s to our taste.