The GOODS from Les Amis Du Fromage
Vancouver, BC | The Salty Cookie Company and The Lemon Square join forces for a Pop Up Shop at les amis du FROMAGE in Strathcona on Saturday May 24. This pop-up will showcase the talents of these two fresh start-up pastry companies. It will run from noon to 5pm at the East Vancouver location of les amis du FROMAGE at 843 East Hastings Street in Strathcona. Take this opportunity to do some sweet shopping and show some support for these new start-up businesses!
The Salty Cookie Company is the dream child of pastry chef Meredith Kaufman. Having been a pastry chef since 1999 and a mom since 2004, cookies have always been a part of her life. What started off as a hobby of dropping off cookies to friends and loved ones, turned into a full time venture. Thus, The Salty Cookie Company was born.
The Lemon Square is a small slice of paradise. Handmade and all wrapped up just for you. Not your typical lemon square, this one is made with fresh lemons, BC butter and dusted with coconut. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked. Read more
by Stevie Wilson | It has been renovated and repurposed as one of Gastown’s most popular restaurants, yet the Alibi Room at 157 Alexander Street still retains much of the unique character and historic architectural features of the building’s many previous iterations. Constructed on three small lots in 1913 by E.W. Cook & Co., the Classic Revival-style building was designed by famed Canadian architect William Marshall Dodd and is celebrated as his only example of commercial architecture on record in Vancouver.
Originally, this address served as the warehouse for Jacobsen and Goldberg Co., one of the thriving businesses engaged in the province’s fur trade. Later, the “White Seal” mittens decal across the western wall of the building (now covered) advertised the products of White Manufacturing Co.. The BC Grinnall glove manufacturers were another company found on the ground floor. The H.G. White Manufacturing Co., a shipping company, purchased the building circa 1919, when the address was 149 Alexander. The property was an excellent location for each and every one of its successive businesses, including Burnyeats B.C. Limited in the 1930s, due to its proximity to the nearby port and the CPR Railway.
The exterior of the building remains virtually untouched, including the mock voussoirs above the first-storey windows and brick corbelling across the top. The original glass in the arched fenestration on the ground floor, reminiscent of the building’s original commercial purpose, is still intact (the glass on the bottom half has been updated for safety reasons).
In later decades, the address’ upper storeys were converted into offices, and by the 1970s the ground floor was known as the Banjo Palace, a 20’s-themed club boasting the country’s largest circular barbecue. The owner, George Patey, had purchased pieces of the brick wall involved in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and had it re-constructed in the men’s room (true story).
Prior to the Alibi Room (which was reopened in 2006 after a change in ownership), the address was home to the Archimedes Club, an infamous watering hole for Vancouver’s taxi drivers where a signature on the membership book got you access to $5 pitchers (or so go the legends).
The historic brick interior is still on display all throughout the Alibi Room, where they have since turned the basement – once an office space – into a secondary seating hub perfect for a few pints with friends. The next time you bend an elbow within its cozy confines, let your eyes wander and your ears imagine all the old brick walls have heard in the last 101 years.
Special thanks to Perrin Grauer at the Alibi Room
by Andrew Morrison | High end Japanese restaurant company Itoh Dining is opening its first North American restaurant, Shirakawa, in the steel and glass box that was the final incarnation of Boneta, which closed just before Christmas (115-12 Water St.). The company has several restaurants in Japan, including Itoh Dining by Nobu in Kanagawa Prefecture (a partnership with famed chef/restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa).
Shirakawa, so named after the river in Japan’s Kyoto prefecture, will be a high-end modern teppanyaki eatery specialising in Kobe beef and particularly Kuroge Wagyu beef (aka “Japanese Black”). The chefs – highly trained pros plucked from Mr Itoh’s well established line up – are coming over from Japan with their own iron griddle kitchen equipment and the beef, which is the real deal and not the “kobe-style” American/Australian stuff that many local restaurants have been peddling to their great fortune for over a decade now. There will be some sashimi/nigiri on offer (using red vinegar instead of white for the rice), and possibly some Nobu originals in the form of sauces and dressings, but the focus will be squarely on the beef. Think sampler plates showcasing different grades (like a wine vertical, only with beef), full steaks, gyozas stuffed with wagyu and foie gras, et cetera. Vegetarian it most definitely is not.
According to Operations Manager Takuya Motohashi (who was kind enough to show me around the space yesterday), the bar program is going to be more substantial than the sort one typically finds in Vancouver’s Japanese eateries. Mr. Itoh is not only a chef, he’s also a sommelier, so we can expect plenty of wine, sake, inventive cocktails, and good beer (not just the typical Japanese brands). This was a relief to hear, as quality drinks are the norm in Gastown, and it would certainly be a shame if the old Boneta bar were to ever suffer second rate booze. As far as atmosphere is concerned, I ‘m seeing it as a Japanese version L’Abattoir — slickly on the restrained side of cool; not as stiff as Tojo’s but not as irreverent as an izakaya.
As far as I could make out from my walk-through, the structure of the space isn’t being tampered with. They’re toying with the idea of having a 4-6 seat kitchen bar so that a handful of customers can be nightly wowed by the chefs’ knife skills and the meat’s rarefied sizzle, but beyond that, a swap-out of light fixtures and tables, and the addition of some fresh art work, I don’t think the aesthetic transition will prove too dramatic.
While I do look forward to the proper opening of Shirakawa on May 20th (supper only until June 1st, when lunch service begins), I still can’t help but mourn Boneta. Honestly, it was straight-up bizarre being back in the old space again, and maybe a little sad, too. There were several immediate and credible suitors when owners Mark Brand and Neil Ingram put it up for sale last year. Some were promising, sure, but I think it entirely appropriate that the restaurant ultimately went to a company that would be bringing something new and exciting to the neighbourhood, much like Boneta did when it originally opened (at its West Cordova location) in July, 2007.
Though I’ve yet to eyeball the finished menu, I fully expect Shirakawa’s steaks to be the most expensive in town. Will that hurt them? Likely not. It’s about supply and demand, and by my read of the landscape there’s high demand for authentic, Japanese wagyu and absolutely no supply. Come opening day, the question will be very straightforward: who that is red in tooth and claw can resist the prospect of the best beef in the world, sizzling at last in Vancouver?
The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | Gastown’s Pidgin introduces a fresh new spring lineup of eight seasonal cocktails. Head bartender Justin Darnes welcomes the warmer months with eight new mixes and muddles of clean, bright spirits, fragrant floral scents and delicate herbs.
The new drinks take their cue from the long-awaited season of blooming fruit blossoms and long lingering evenings. The La Vie En Rose makes its blushing debut, stepping out with calvados, kirsch, white wine raspberry coulis, lemon and rose water. Tipplers fancying classic tastes, showy hats and Wimbledon matches enjoy a twist on British tradition: a House-Made Pimm’s Cup, showcasing our own version of the proper English staple, with lemon, orange, mint, cucumber and strawberry. Itching for smoky beach bonfires and tropical climes? Take a Stab in the Dark: mezcal, lemon, pineapple caramel egg white, smoke brine mist, and clove tincture. The Spring drink menu is only available for a brief time, so guests are invited to sip all eight before they’re gone.
Fans of the tried-and-true will be pleased to hear their favourite house cocktails continue to appear alongside their freshly hatched contemporaries. Read more
by Stevie Wilson | Like most cosmopolitan cities around the world, Vancouver is known for its distinct neighbourhoods, each with their own character, landscape, and history. But what happens when an entire neighbourhood is razed to the ground and its community is displaced? The historic Hogan’s Alley in Strathcona is a unique example of how a neighbourhood can come to define the history of a group of people, and the intricacies of cultural identity within urban spaces.
The name “Hogan’s Alley” is often explained as being the colloquial term for Park Lane, an alley that spanned from Main Street to Jackson Avenue between Union Street and Prior Street, and the surrounding area. The lane, which ran parallel to Main Street, did originally border the sides, backs, and gardens of homes, but to consider the whole neighbourhood as simply an “alley” would be a disservice to the businesses, residences, and cultural centres that developed around it.
Hogan’s Alley was not marked on the city map in any particular fashion, and its precise boundaries are not entirely clear. City archivist J.S. Matthews noted on a photo from 1891 that the lane adjacent to the home at 209 Harris Street (now East Georgia) was known as Hogan’s Alley; from where exactly he learned the nickname is unknown.
While the definitive nomenclature is still up for debate, what is clear it that multiple generations of families and workers, predominantly of African-Canadian descent, called this area home for decades. Ultimately, many of these families were displaced when the City demolished a number of homes and businesses in Hogan’s Alley to build the second version of the Georgia Viaduct.
The black community which came to define Hogan’s Alley came to the area shortly after the turn of the century. Many individuals had come from Vancouver Island, likely in search of work in local resource industries, and this section of Strathcona (then known simply as the East End) quickly developed into a mecca for those of African-American and African-Canadian heritage. Many had also migrated to Vancouver from California and Louisiana. At this time, Vancouver was seen as having limitless economic potential.
Prior to his political defeat in 1934, Mayor L.D. Taylor had a unique and often controversial perspective of how Vancouver should mitigate the growing crime rates in the city. In particular, his “open town policy” on vice crimes such as prostitution, gambling, and illegal drinking meant that areas such as Hogan’s Alley were ripe for these types of “victimless” crimes to continue unchecked. Moreover, his ties to corruption in the police department further frustrated those who recognized the fragile state of the city’s lower-income neighbourhoods. Given Hogan’s Alley’s proximity to transportation centres and the commercial hub of Hastings Street (the very same reasons residents were drawn to the area in the first place), it attracted a wide variety of legal and illegal activities for locals and visitors in the 1920s and early 1930s.
Park Lane itself was only 8 feet wide and spanned only a couple of blocks, but the area was filled with a variety of after-hours entertainments, including bootlegger establishments, cheap eateries, and popular brothels. These businesses, popular with loggers, sailors, and other resource industry workers, included Buddy’s on Union for booze, the Scat Inn on Park Lane for music and food, and even a back-alley wine merchant called Lungo. All this – including stories of a blind prostitute known as the “Queen of Hogan’s Alley” – led to a rough-and-tumble reputation that scared many folks off and intrigued even more.
While Hogan’s Alley was a predominantly black community (Vancouver’s first), there were other cultures and ethnicities prevalent in the area as well. Several Jewish families and business were well established and an Italian consular office was located in the Bingarra Block at Union and Main. Some of the houses on the 200-block of Union Street, which became vacant during World War I, later became home to Chinese families.
It is important to note, however, that this area was once a comfortable community for Vancouver’s black population. Indeed, while other ethnically defined areas are historically common in Vancouver (Little Italy, Chinatown, Japantown, etc), this was the first – and only – example of a cultural enclave for African-Canadians. It is also the site of Vancouver’s first black church, the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel (823 Jackson Avenue), which was purchased by the community in 1918.
During its heyday in the 1930s and 40s, Hogan’s Alley featured a number of black-owned businesses that added a distinct southern flavour to the neighbourhood. One of these black-owned businesses was Emma Alexander’s Mother’s Tamale and Chili Parlour at 250 Union Street. Emma’s niece, Viva Moore, later opened the famous Vie’s Chicken and Steak House at 209 Main Street, which operated from 1948 until 1976. Run by Viva and her husband Rob, the restaurant was a popular spot for locals and even a few famous faces, including Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong. Sadly, the unique culture and popularity of businesses like these, and the fact that a growing community was thriving in the area, wasn’t enough to protect the neighbourhood from “progress”. Eventually, Hogan’s Alley’s reputation as a red light district gave Mayor Tom Campbell’s government the justification to approve the $11.2 million Georgia Viaduct Replacement project.
Since its destruction in the early 1970s, the surrounding area has evolved from a primarily residential neighbourhood into a growing commercial sector, with a number of shops, cafes, and restaurants along Union Street catering to a new generation of Vancouverites. Modern civic and cultural organizations, such as the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project, help memorialize and educate people on the experiences of black individuals in Vancouver, as well as the history of Hogan’s Alley.
The Jimi Hendrix Shrine at the corner of Main and Union (adjacent to the former site of Vie’s Chicken and Steak House) pays homage to the musician and his grandmother, Nora Hendrix, who migrated to Vancouver from Tennessee in 1911 and worked at Vie’s restaurant. Nora’s home at 827 East Georgia still stands today, where she raised three children with her husband Ross. In 2013, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Places That Matter program installed a plaque near the Hogan’s Alley Cafe in conjunction with Black History Month. While most tangible remnants of this historic neighbourhood are long gone, the legacy of its community and its place in the story of Vancouver is, thankfully, still remembered and celebrated.
The GOODS from Les Amis Du Fromage
Vancouver, BC | On Saturday, May 10th – les amis du Fromage will again host Petit Four Pastries for a Mother’s Day themed pop-up at their East Vancouver store. If your mom loves baked goods, then come by to pick up a gift! This time around, the ladies will be bringing their usual goods – the signature buttercrunch, all sorts of cookies and brownies, hand-painted decorative sugar cookies, shortbread and gluten-free almond financiers… And there will also be some limited-quantity, made-for-mom treats that would be great dessert that evening or for Sunday brunch: rustic chocolate cherry hazelnut coffee cakes, cranberry orange muffins and lemon thyme loaves – to name a few. Get all the details after the jump… Read more
The Writers’ Exchange is a local program that offers inner city kids a place where they can learn to love the craft of writing. The Writer’s Exchange used to be run out of classrooms across East Vancouver, but this past Fall it opened a public space at 881 East Hastings. Here, kids gather after school to learn about reading, writing and the versatility of their own imaginations in a safe environment – all for free.
The literacy superstars who run the show, namely Sarah Maitland and Jennifer MacLeod, are aiming to ensure that every Vancouver child has the opportunity to build the literacy skills necessary to access a world where anything is possible. That’s a pretty great vision and we think our city will be a better place for it. But stuff like this doesn’t happen unless community pitches in to make it happen.
And that’s where you come in…
TIME | Volunteer some time! A few hours one day of the week would make a huge difference. Giving kids a familiar and supportive mentor is a key part of what the success of The Writer’s Exchange has been built upon. “As a volunteer mentor, you can help with reading, creative writing projects, literacy games and cool crafts, or support a small group of kids during in-school book-making programs. Help us make literacy fun and accessible for kids!”
DONATE | If you don’t have time, maybe you have a little food or money that you wouldn’t mind contributing. Healthy snacks or cash donations are accepted with appreciation. The Writer’s Exchange also loves books and art supplies.
TECHNOLOGY | The Writer’s Exchange is looking for donations of Apple Computers. We know a lot of our readers are Mac users, so if you or your office or organization are looking at refreshing your hardware any time soon, please consider donating your old computers to The Writer’s Exchange. Macs are great for creating stop-animation videos, processing photographs used for some of the books that the children create and are generally easier for newbies to learn on. Anything after 2005 can be refurbished and used by these kids.
Connect with Jennifer or Sarah at The Writer’s Exchange here.
PS. Once upon a time, a burrito was born. He was sitting around in the freezer until someone put him in the microwave. The burrito never felt so alive. — Crissy, age 9
Honour Bound details the many cool things that we feel honour bound to check out because they either represent our city extremely well or are inherently awesome in one way or another.
The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | On May 7, 2014 at 6:30pm, Visa Infinite cardholders are invited to Gastown’s Pidgin to experience an unforgettable menu inspired by global flavours from Japan, Korea, Spain, France and Canada with Vancouver’s chef Makoto Ono (Pidgin) and Toronto chef Grant van Gameren (Bar Isabel) sharpening their knives for an evening of culinary collaboration. Both chefs were included on enRoute magazine’s list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2013. For one night only, the duo presents a multi-course menu carefully matched with unique beer, wine, cocktail, and sake parings.
Celebrated for his attention to detail and flavour, chef Makoto Ono takes a delicate and playful approach, crafting highly composed dishes. Chef Grant van Gameren, known for his approachable, Spanish-inspired fare, creates unfussy plates bursting with imagination. Guests can expect a cutting-edge and inventive menu as these two nationally famous top chefs push one another to produce one-of-a-kind cuisine. Details after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Pidgin
Vancouver, BC | Gastown’s Pidgin is currently seeking an enthusiastic part-time floor manager and server to join their team. Candidates must have experience working in a fast-paced restaurant setting and have a strong passion for hospitality, food and drink. Please submit your applications to resumes [at] pidginyvr.com. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Les Amis Du Fromage
Vancouver, BC | Les amis du FROMAGE, Vancouver’s most critically-acclaimed cheese shop, is set to deliver their famous macaroni and cheese directly to the doors of Lower Mainland residents thanks to their new partnership with SPUD – Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery. The aptly named “Best Macaroni and Cheese” can now be ordered online at spud.ca.
The Best Macaroni and Cheese from les amis du FROMAGE is based on a family recipe and is lovingly produced in small batches with quality ingredients at their East Vancouver location, just down the road from SPUD. Priced at $7.99 for 400g and $18.99 for 950g, this decadent four-cheese macaroni blend includes Cheddar, Gruyère, and Stilton. Each order is delivered frozen and ready to heat.
“I was honoured when SPUD asked if they could add our macaroni and cheese to their stellar line-up of ready to eat products,” says Joe Chaput, chef and co-owner of les amis du FROMAGE. “We are now able to reach areas well outside of Vancouver, including West Vancouver, Richmond, Langley, Mission, and Chilliwack.”
SPUD delivers local organic groceries to the doorstep of houses, apartments, and offices within Vancouver and surrounding municipalities. Customers simply sign up online and shop; their selected groceries are then delivered on a set day that following week. Read more
by Andrew Morrison | 55 Dunlevy St. has seen a lot since the Vancouver Urban Winery took it over a couple of years ago. The old railtown address, all 7,700 sqft of it, is home to not only VUW – with its own Roaring Twenties Wine label, retail shop, and 36 tap wine lounge open to the public – but also FreshTAP, the company that brings BC wine to Vancouver’s forward-thinking restaurants serving the stuff on tap. It can be a little confusing with so much going on under one roof, so they’ve gone ahead and rebranded the whole building, sort of as an umbrella moniker. As of this afternoon, it’s called The Settlement Building. The rebrand is just as well, as the place will soon shelter two new companies.
The first of these is a 65 seat eatery called Belgard Kitchen. It’ll offer day/night service, low and cozy hideaway booths, and bar height tables. Overseeing the food program is 19 year Earls veteran, Reuben Major. Together with chef de cuisine Jason Masuch (ex-Brix) and sous chef Mark Reder (ex-Fish Shack), Major plans on serving shareable small plates in the evening (eg. Swiss cheese fondue, bacon mushroom pate) and a larger lunch program that will see sandwiches, chile, soups, salads, slaws, a house special ramen, and a daily crockpot. I looked in on construction yesterday and they were just about to start installing the bulk of their kitchen equipment.
What’s in a name? I had to consult a 20 volume version of the OED to find the answer. It turns out that a belgard came to English (the poets, natch) from the Italian in the 16th century or so, and it means “a kind and loving look.” ”The team felt the meaning captured what they’re all about and what guests through the doors can expect,” The Settlement’s PR person, Kate MacDougall, explained. “It’s their everyday disposition – made easier, I’m sure, surrounded by wine – and their service style.”
Opening Day for Belgard Kitchen is set for the middle of April.
The second new company in The Settlement Building is a microbrewery called Postmark Brewing. It’s being led by managing director Nate Rayment, formerly of Howe Sound Brewing, while the “brew chief” is none other than polymath Craig Noble, who made the engrossing 2007 Tableland documentary (also the brother of JoieFarm‘s Heidi Noble).
Postmark will produce four sessionable beers that will be available for growler purchase/refill, on tap (one presumes) 20 feet away at Belgard Kitchen, and in local beer-loving restaurants around town. If all goes according to plan, we’ll be drinking their first beers in June.
The one catch to it all is that FreshTAP is moving out to make room for Postmark, which matters not to the public because it never provided any on-site services to the end consumer. In the grand scheme of things, however, it’s worth noting that the little company with the big idea of selling local wine in steel kegs to local eateries has already outgrown its nursery (slow clap all around). They’re looking at options for a new and scaleable space as we speak. Good luck, and well done indeed.
by Grady Mitchell | Just over a year ago, Curator Paulina De La Paz organized the first Postcard Show after noticing the lack of platforms for emerging artists and curators in Vancouver. On Saturday, April 5 the show’s fourth volume will open at The Remington Gallery (108 E Hastings) at 7 PM, granting young artists, especially recent graduates, a chance to exhibit their work in Vancouver and internationally. For this edition, the artists will be creating their postcard-size pieces within the greater theme of “Transformation.”
Most of the forty-five artists have contributed multiple postcards, which means there will be plenty to look at – and bid on. Every piece is for sale, starting at $10 in auction-style bidding. As you’d expect with such a stacked roster, the styles are eclectic, spanning photography, painting, illustration, textiles, origami, and even more unique mediums. Andea Hooge, for instance, specializes in scratch boarding; she coats a surface in paint and scratches away layers to create an image. Another artist in the show, Carley Stadlemann, has built her own Harmonograph, a device that takes sound waves and translates them visually into spiralling, precise, and hypnotizing patterns.
If young talent and affordable original artwork aren’t enough to draw you to the show, then consider this: the fourth volume will be Vancouver’s last Postcard Show for some time. After this, Paulina plans to take the exhibition international, starting with Mexico City.
Staff Meal is a new column by Ken Tsui. The photo essays will detail the stories behind the family-style meals that some of Vancouver’s busiest restaurant crews get either before or after service.
by Ken Tsui | Before service, the team at Railtown’s Ask for Luigi rallies for their staff meal. Chef and owner Jean-Christophe Poirier and cook Edward Jordan decide to nostalgic for their days together at Pizzeria Farina, Poirier’s sister restaurant. They begin by rolling out some tempered dough while general manager Matthew Morgenstern does his mise en place for a Caesar salad. In the back, Ales, a former dishwasher-turned-kitchen apprentice is on “smoothie duty”. He puts together a different fresh fruit smoothie every day in the chef’s bid for a healthier staff meal. Today, it’s a delicious melange of blueberries, pineapple, mint and blood orange. Within half an hour, a variety of pizzas are passed around, smoothies are poured, and the salad is mixed tableside. A strong sense of family pervades the room as the team takes a moment to enjoy their meal and each other’s company before the first tables arrive.