(via) Hats off to Toronto-based filmmaker William McMaster for sharing such an fascinating and inspiring story.
Since the 1970′s Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC. His forest has transformed what was once a barren wasteland into a lush oasis. Humble yet passionate and philosophical about his work. Payeng takes us on a journey into his incredible forest…
Payeng’s forest is now populated by a wide range of animals, among them deer, elephant, rhino, and tigers. Money quote: “There are no monsters in nature except for humans”.
Wildebeest is located at 120 West Hastings Street in Vancouver, BC | 604-687-6880 | www.wildebeest.ca
Vancouver, BC | Vancouver’s Wildebeest restaurant has launched its summer menu. Executive Chef Wesley Young brings the heat this season with a fresh, well-balanced line up of dishes that draw heavily from the Pacific Northwest’s rich and varied agricultural largess.
Available for the next few months, the menu features well-rounded midsummer fare with a focus on lighter proteins and the reciprocity of crisp flavours and varied textures. Diners can expect to taste dishes such as pan-roasted halibut with oyster mushrooms, an egg yolk glaze, seaweed, and dashi; oyster ‘Blumenthal’ with poached razor clam, rhubarb ‘snow’, and croutons; Fraser Valley rabbit with butter-poached white asparagus, fava beans, and peas; and rainbow carrots with a stinging nettle ‘cassoulet’, summer squash, and mustard flowers.
Dessert tempers the season’s torrid temperatures with offerings of yoghurt sorbet with walnut praline, macerated strawberries, and edible flowers, and toasted hazelnut ice cream with sorrel mousse and fresh strawberries.
From the bar hails the latest incarnation of the restaurant’s rotating frozen cocktail feature: a bright and heady tequila-watermelon slushie, just in time for the inauguration of Wildebeest’s recently launched Happy Hour. From 5-7pm daily, cool off with boozy slushies and Parallel 49 ‘Tricycle’ Radler for just $5 a pop. To view the full menu, visit www.wildebeest.ca. [ Keep reading ]
by Andrew Morrison | Dormant 441 Gore Street in Chinatown is about to get its first tenant in many years. The space, which used to house a Chinese grocery way back in the day, will become “Snack City” at the end of the month, a 1,000 sqft victualling station offering everything from smokes, candy, organic produce, coffee, and Cartem’s Donuts to locally made jewelry, ceramics, art books, and vintage porn zines. It’s coming to the neighbourhood courtesy of Celia Hamilton, who has a background in film industry catering, and Aisha Davidson, lately of Community Thrift & Vintage. Though the interior still has a ways to go before it’s ready, it’s clearly a neat little box of potential. Take a look at some photos after the jump… [ Keep reading ]
Black Rock Ocean Front Resort is located in Ucluelet, BC | 250-726-4800 | www.blackrockresort.com
Ucluelet, BC | Black Rock Resort in Ucleulet is seeking experienced, energetic and passionate individuals to join our culinary brigade. Breakfast Cooks, Cooks 1 & 2, and Dishwashers are needed immediately. All interested individuals are invited to send their detailed resumes to careers [at] blackrockresort.com. Learn more about the island resort after the jump… [ Keep reading ]
by Stevie Wilson | It is recognized as one of Vancouver’s most popular music venues and the longest continuously occupied space of its kind, but there’s much more to the Railway Club at 579 Dunsmuir than the occasional anecdote about The Tragically Hip. With over 80 years of history behind it, the space is yet another product of the inextricable link between Vancouver and its busy rail lines. The club, established in 1932 (at midnight on New Year’s Eve, to be exact) was originally a members-only space for the CPR’s staff to unwind, and was allegedly opened in response to the exclusivity of the nearby Engineers Club. Following the repeal of prohibition in 1933, The Railwaymen’s Club (as it was then known) operated as a busy, beer-stained and smoke-filled poker bar for the city’s thirsty working class.
The slim Laursen Building (also registered as Lawsen) dates back to around 1926, and has since featured many small businesses both upstairs and down. Prior to the Railwaymen’s Club, the top floor belonged to the European Concert Cafe, where one can only imagine what sort of fun was had. Over the years the space fell into significant disrepair until the Forsyth family purchased the bar in 1981. None of the contemporary furnishings are original, save for the fenestration and radiators; everything had to be constructed for a new crowd of patrons. Behind the main bar a set of beautiful stained glass windows are nearly hidden by a wide variety of signs and stuff to stare at over a pint.
Another surprising element of the Railway is its cozy back-end bar. While it blends seamlessly with the dark wooden decor of the front space, this room used to be the H. Miles Jewellery Store, which the Forsyths took over in 1988. The beautiful oak back bar was purchased from the storied West End gay bar Buddy’s when it closed its doors in the same year.
So whether it’s for a drink, a show, or to watch its charming toy trains circle the ceiling, just soaking up an hour at this local landmark means soaking up some uniquely local history, too. Indeed, in a city where restaurant and bar interiors seldom last as long as they really should, it’s an uncommon environment worthy of your thirsty investigation. Photos after the jump… [ Keep reading ]
Big Lou’s Butcher Shop is located at 269 Powell St. in Vancouver, BC | 604-566-9229 | biglousbutchershop.com
Vancouver, BC | Diner en Blanc will return to Vancouver on August 21st and this year guests can add delicious French-inspired flair to their evening with a range of delicious Big Lou’s Butcher Shop boucherie-style picnics loaded with locally-sourced and house-made specialties. Along with house made pates and roasted local meats, the picnics include artisan-baked treats like tarts, macaroons, meringues and baguettes; indulgent local cheeses, and fresh salads. The Classic French Picnic and Dinner in the Park are sized for two people can easily be modified for bigger groups. Big Lou’s is also be able to prepare a wide range of made to order meals and baskets for any-sized group. Big Lou’s house specialties include classic smoker BBQ platters, Charcuterie and local cheeses, smoked local seafood plates and much more. Details after the jump… [ Keep reading ]
by Shaun Layton | Islay is a dream trip for whisky fans. It’s a small island – the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides (population 3,000+) off the coast of Scotland – about a 30 minute puddle jump from Glasgow. Its main industries are malt whisky, agriculture and tourism. Some people visit for the bird-watching, while others want to tour the Islay Woolen Mill, which dates back to 1833 and still uses huge old machines to make tartans. They remain the Royal Family’s go-to producer and help the wardrobe departments on films (eg. Braveheart).
But when you really come down to it, Islay is about whisky. Full stop. It’s world famous for its deliciously peated brown stuff.
On a recent visit with wingman/friend Keenan Hood (bar manager The Keefer Bar), we were taxied into town by a rather jolly cab driver, an Islay native to the bone. He was my kind of people. Upon discovering we were there to tour the distilleries he graciously pulled out a sample of 35 year old Ardbeg and insisted we all take sips. The generous act was a bit of foreshadowing. Every Scot we met on our trip was equally hospitable.
We stayed at the Bait & Tackle, a cozy little B&B in the small port town of Port Ellen, which is within stumbling distance of such legendary distilleries as Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and Laphroig. The B&B’s hostess, Mary, makes the best Scottish breakfast in all the land (black pudding, sausage, stew tomatoes, mushrooms, toast, bacon, eggs, baked beans, hash browns – the full deal). Port Ellen itself is a charming place with an intoxicating smell, a blend of ocean seaspray and burning peat. Unforgettable.
Across the road from the harbour is a simple, unassuming-looking pub – The Ardview Inn – and on this particular Sunday it was loaded with locals singing Scottish drinking songs. The songs stopped as soon as we walked in, however. The chaps in the bar took one look at us and said, “You two are way too posh to be in here. Where you from?” They insisted we join them and they buy the first round when they learned we were Canadian. It was such a cliche moment that I thought it could have been a set up, but alas it was just more of the same genuine hospitality. (If you ever make it to the Ardview and meet a mystical character that goes by the name of “Murphy”, by the man a drink or two and get him to sing.)
On to the whisky. Our tour was focused on Ardbeg, though we were also able to visit Laphroig, Lagavulin, and Bowmore (if you wanted to, you could see all eight distilleries in two or three days). On your way to Ardbeg, cattle and sheep literally rule the roads and hills, so be careful as they cross wherever they please. The distillery sits right on the rocky shoreline. The location might be pretty (and boy, is it ever!), but it’s also crucial for the aging process as the sea air blows into the warehouse where the whisky sleeps.
Upon arrival, we toured the grounds with a keen young guide who loved chatting scotch. Ardbeg was founded in 1815 by John McDougall, but illegal distilling had been going on at the site well before then. By the late 1800’s, the distillery was producing over a million litres of whisky per year. In those days the trade was a lot more labour intensive. For example, over 60 workers were needed in production back then. Now, it’s about 16 people. A lot of this has to do with modern day technology, and the fact that the malting process is now done at Port Ellen by a company that takes care of the malting process for a number of distilleries on the island.
By 1911, Ardbeg was registered as a trademark, and the distillery was again owned by the McDougall family (it had changed hands a few times since opening). It stayed family-owned until 1977 when Canadian company Hiram Walker stepped in. This was not a good direction for the brand as production went way down. Dark days loomed. The distillery was shut until 1987 when Allied Lyons stepped in and purchased the brand. But once again, in 1991, the doors closed and the stills were turned off. There was light at the end of the tunnel, however, as in 1997 the Glenmorangie Co. purchased the brand. This was the Renaissance moment for the prided malt. Within a couple of years the old malting floors were turned into visitor centres and a restaurant (that arguably cooks the best lunch on the island) was opened. The whiskies were winning awards, production was climbing, and malts like the flagship, peat-forward Ardbeg 10 yr and the beauty Uigeadail (named after the lake where the water is sourced) were established.
By 2005, LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) added The Glenmorangie Co. to its portfolio. The distillery was now back to its glory days hitting highs of over a million litres of whisky, the only difference being that the old malting floors were now the visitor centre. In the last decade, Ardbeg has gained a massive following and their unique releases sell out all over the world every year. If you are lucky enough to go to Islay, be sure to pick up their festival bottle, a yearly release that coincides with the island’s annual whiskey celebration. Every distillery does a special release that is only available for purchase on the island.
Our tour included a walk of the whole distillery. The majority of the malt comes in at a whopping 55 ppm (Phenol parts per million), which is the highest peat content on the island. At the moment, Ardbeg receives over 72 tonnes of malt per week. When it arrives, it’s put through the very rare and traditional Boby mill that lives at the distillery. This turns the malt into grist. The grist will be loaded into a huge mash tun, where water will be added three separate times at different temperatures to maximize sugar extraction. All waste from this process is turned into local cattle feed for some very lucky cows. The wort, as it now is called, will sit in huge wash backs made from Oregon pine, which is the best wood for the fermentation process. After yeast is added the magic process of fermentation begins. It takes over fifty hours. This is longer than most because of the higher than usual ppm. The “beer” is now at about 8% ABV (alcohol by volume). Two distillations follow. The first – through the wash still – condenses the liquid into vapour and then back to liquid state. This goes to the spirit safe where the distiller can monitor the proof and quality of the young spirit, which is now at about 24% ABV. The distillate now travels to the spirit still where the heads and tails (the parts of the distillate that are of low quality and possibly toxic) are cut out and the heart of the second distillation comes off at about 76%. This is reduced in the Intermediate Spirit Receiver to casking strength, which is 62.5%.
That was a distilled version of the process. It’s a lot more complicated, but I don’t want to get too nerdy. We were lucky enough to see the aging warehouses, too, which for me is always the best part of a distillery tour. This is where the magic happens – where the whisky sleeps for a minimum of ten years. It’s so quiet, and the smell of the wood and the young and old malts is just so serenely breathtaking. The initial resting period is done in used bourbon casks (prized for the quality American oak) whose charred interiors add great flavour and texture to the whisky. From there, different impressions of the malt are finished off in different casks with sherry butts and French oak being the most popular choices. After aging, the whisky will be cut with water or bottled and barrel-proof, and the next stop will be your glass. Cheers!
Shaun Layton has helped to maintain a top notch bar scene in Vancouver for ten years, and since day one at Gastown’s L’Abattoir, where he is the Bar Manager. He also runs his own consulting company, designing bar programs and training staff locally and as far away as St.John’s, NFLD. Layton has competed and travelled throughout the USA and Europe, touring distilleries, breweries and bars. He was recognized in 2012 as the Bartender of The Year by Vancouver Magazine.