SEEN IN VANCOUVER #512 | First Look (And Taste) Inside The New “Cafe Medina”

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With the highly anticipated opening of the new Cafe Medina set for this Tuesday at 780 Richards Street, the restaurant’s kitchen crew and front of house team took Saturday to get in some practice with friends and family. The special “dry run” service saw delivery of chef Jonathan Chovancek’s new menu and our first look at the new interior by designer Brian Kane. Take a look below…

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #511 | Matching Fred Herzog’s Iconic Photographs To The Present

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by Andrew Morrison | As a summer project, my eldest son James and I have been walking around the city with a copy of Fred Herzog Photographs (Douglas & McIntyre, 2011) and trying to shoot the exact locations where the master framed up his most iconic shots. It’s a book that we both love because a lot of the pictures were taken really close to our house in Strathcona and all around the Downtown Eastside. Because of our familiarity with the territory, most of the locations have been easy to pick out. Others are proving far more difficult because much of what was once there is no more. Truly, working on this has really brought home how dramatic the changes to this city have been over the last 50-60 years. And yet, in some places, it’s uncanny how it has remained largely the same. There’s plenty of summer left and a lot more Herzog haunts to explore, so expect the gallery below – complete with higher resolution side-by-sides and descriptive captions – to expand.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #510 | Through The Viewfinder Of Photographer Andy Grellman

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by Grady Mitchell | On his long walks through the city and frequent trips around the coast, photographer Andy Grellmann is gradually piecing together a visual survey of Vancouver and the region around it. His work is divided into albums dedicated to the various neighbourhoods within the city and the islands beyond it, each one like a photographic map.

Although always a visual kid, he didn’t discover photography until university, when he bought his first digital camera. Soon he experimented with film and found that medium format cameras better fit his developing style of mindful, quiet image making – the act of looking down into a viewfinder and slowly composing a picture suited his meditative approach.

It’s tough, he says, to name exactly what it is about a given scene that compels him to stop and make a picture. “It can have light, form, shape, composition, whatever.” He says. “If everything else is there but the content isn’t there, then I won’t take the picture.” Those other elements should not be the focus of the image, he says, but should instead serve that central idea. The essential “content” can take almost any form. “If what I’m feeling inside is projected back at me, then I’ll take a picture of it,” he says. Although he’s always shot this way, he’s only recently begun to contemplate the way he works.

Much of Andy’s work is still life or landscape, people seldom appear in his images. When they do, they rarely face the camera: most seem unaware that they’re being photographed at all, and those that do know are usually turned away, their eyes diverted from the viewer. Recently, however, he’s ventured into portraiture, inspired especially by August Sander, a photographer known for his highly-orchestrated portraits of pre-WWII Germans.

Back when Sander was shooting, having your portrait made was a rare event. These days, you can do it yourself in a smudged bathroom mirror in ten seconds flat. So what’s the value of a single image in a world so over-saturated with them? It’s an even more challenging question for someone like Andy, whose work doesn’t rely on flashy spectacle, but instead documents quiet, everyday moments. In a world so packed with imagery, it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect viewers to slow down and study each one. But for those that are willing to do so, the work of photographers like Andy offers rewards.

One of Andy’s most beautiful series is entitled Detache. It’s an assortment of small, enticing details: a pile of books, the luminescent glow of cracked eggshells, a drape wound around a bedpost. “Detachment” speaks to Andy’s role as someone removed from the action, a keen observer rather than direct participant. But in a greater sense it also describes the style of all his photographs in any of his series. In music, a detache is a quick, light stroke on the violin. In essence, a light touch. These little moments are, to Andy, the harvest of the small but profound act he pursues every day of “noticing poetry in your surroundings.”

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #509 | Geeking Out On Rare Coffees At Chinatown’s Matchstick

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by Joey Armstrong | Matchstick Coffee Roasters recently held a free public coffee tasting of Tim Wendelboe coffees at their Chinatown location. Since Wendelboe is from Oslo, it’s a rare thing for the beans to make a Vancouver appearance, so members of the local coffee trade – who usually only get together in competitive settings - were invited to partake.

If you’ve never been to a “cupping” before, it’s similar to a wine tasting. There are stations set up for people to smell the freshly ground beans. Then hot water is poured in and you wait. After that you break the crust of the coffee with a spoon and take in the aroma. Once the coffee is cool enough, you go around slurping spoonfuls. You swallow the coffee or spit it out in a cup, rinse the spoon in a cup of hot water, and repeat until you feel you’ve gotten the full measure of the bean. Esoteric fun. It was nice to see the crowd gather in a relaxed setting and nerd out. Oh, and there was beer flowing, with proceeds going to improve worker housing at the El Diamante farm in Guatemala.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #508 | Cunningham Vs Sylla; Previewing The Restaurant Rumble

The third episode of the Aprons For Gloves’ Restaurant Rumble preview series just landed on our desk. It sets up the Middleweight Title showdown between Max Cunnigham (Partner, Joe’s Apartment) and Yacine Sylla (Bartender, Chambar). The fights take place in Gastown on July 23rd. Click here for details and to score tickets to the Livestream parties.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #507 | Previewing The Restaurant Rumble (Fraske v. Chromik)

The second episode of their Aprons For Gloves’ Restaurant Rumble preview series has dropped. It sets up the anticipated showdown between Sarah Faske and Andrea Chromik. The fights take place in Gastown on July 23rd. Click here for details and to score tickets to the Livestream parties.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #506 | “Snack City” Neighbourhood Shop Opening In Chinatown

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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… Read more

DINER | Behind The Scenes At “L’Abattoir” From Its Construction Dust To Opening Day

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It was four years ago today that Lee Cooper, Paul Grunberg, and Nin Rai opened their critically acclaimed Gastown eatery L’Abattoir at 217 Carrall Street (the original Irish Heather location). Take a look below for behind the scenes images taken during construction, training, and on opening day…

ALL ANTICIPATED OPENINGS

SEEN IN VANCOUVER #505 | Scenes From The ‘Khatsahlano Street Party’ On West 4th

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photos by Luis Valdizon | The sweltering Khatsahlano Street Party went down over the weekend along West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano with dozens of food trucks, 50 bands, 100+ participating merchants and vendors, and over 100,000 attendees. Shots after the jump… Read more

SEEN IN VANCOUVER #504 | A Cool Thing Happened Five Years Ago Today In Gastown

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On July 9th, 2009, the restaurant community in Gastown was significantly smaller than it is now, but the amount of good will and camaraderie within was very high. To wit, during the construction of Pourhouse – five years ago today – young restaurant owners and staff from across the DTES gathered in the mess of the construction site to put the bar in place, together, and anoint it in ceremony as a family. We were lucky enough to catch it on video (above)… Read more

SEEN IN VANCOUVER #503 | “The Acorn” Celebrates Two Impactful Years On Main St.

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by Andrew Morrison | As noted in the Scout List, it wasn’t just Cuchillo celebrating a milestone this week. The Acorn, arguably Canada’s best vegetarian restaurant, raised glasses (and munched catered Los Cuervos tacos) to mark their 2nd birthday on Monday night. It’s been a incredibly successful run for the Main Street eatery to date. Not only have they attracted people from the neighbourhood in droves, they’ve also impressed discerning gourmands – meat eaters included – from all across the city and country. But most importantly, The Acorn has elevated the meatless milieu to new heights in Vancouver, showing chefs and restaurateurs both young and well established that it’s entirely possible to thoroughly seduce the dining public without the traditional aids of duck fat and pork belly. For proof of this, pay them a visit. Forget all the recognition and the Gold Medal Plates victory and just concentrate on the food and drink in front of you. Even if you’re a carnivore of the most savage sort there’s no denying the skill, talent, or taste.

CONSTRUCTION

OPENING NIGHT

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #502 | Remembering The Construction Of ‘Cuchillo’ On Powell St.

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First years are tough for restaurants in Vancouver, where the market is over-saturated and the costs involved are prohibitively high. We mention this (the utterly obvious) because we were cleaning up our photo galleries earlier today and saw that it was the first birthday of Cuchillo, the Latin-flavoured DTES eatery on Powell St. from John Cooper and chef Stu Irving (pictured above). Like nearby Pidgin, they didn’t have the smoothest of starts on account of anti-gentrification activists picketing their front door, but they kept their heads down and concentrated on the things they could control, namely the service of quality food and drink (the protests backfired, handing both restaurants legions of new diners who thought abusing small businesses was an ill-considered response to a complex issue). The photos below reveal how much work went into the build. And so, with that and a sudden craving for battered rockfish tacos, we wish them a very happy birthday!

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #501 | Dino Archie En Route To A “Summer Comedy Extravaganza”

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by Grady Mitchell | ”In my house, everybody was loyal to the funny,” says comedian Dino Archie. Growing up in Fresno, California, his family held a house philosophy of good-natured ribbing, so he learned to dish it out and, maybe even more importantly, to take it, too. On Friday, June 27, he’ll showcase a lifetime’s worth of talent when he performs at The River Rock Casino with Ivan Decker, Brent Morin, and David Merheje.

Not all his family were amateur jokers and performers. His uncle, for example, was a professional comedian, and his grandfather was a preacher. “He could sing like one of the Four Tops,” Dino says. “He would preach freestyle; he would never write.” He saw the same crowds every week, and he had to keep them entertained. Although the message is different, the lessons Dino learned from his grandpa’s delivery are invaluable. That influence, along with early black comics like Richard Pryor, movies like I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and Hollywood Shuffle, and shows like In Living Color, served as the foundation for his comedy. Although he writes much of his material, he often launches impromptu riffs in his shows, much like his grandpa. Usually those moments involve audience members, and the better ones sometimes get added to his regular rotation.

Originally, Dino wanted to be behind the scenes, not onstage. He dreamed of being a screenwriter and attended film school to learn how to make movies, not star in them. Then a friend signed him up for an open mike in North Hollywood. After five minutes onstage, he was hooked. Since then he’s been performing three or four shows every week.

A few years ago he came to visit a friend living in BC. Gripped by the city’s thriving comedy scene, a month-long visit turned into something much longer. Vancouver offered a vibrant community of talented comics, and the perfectly-sized market for Dino to hone his skills. For the past 3 years he has bounced between LA and Vancouver, telling jokes almost nightly. Whether an intimate club or a massive theatre like the River Rock, Dino’s goal is always the same: “Play to the guy at the back of the room. If you can grab the guy in the last row, you’ll snatch everyone ahead of him, too.”

To buy tickets to the Vancity Summer Comedy Extravaganza, click here.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #500 | Scenes From The Summer’s First ‘Food Cart Fest’ Sunday

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by Ken Tsui | The first Sunday of the 3rd annual Food Cart Fest went down this past weekend. Located at 215 West 1st Ave (on the seawall just west of Olympic Village), the new summer tradition is anchored by a laager of 20 food carts dishing out their best. Diners will be happy to learn that the organisers added more seating and new activities this year. Lisa Giroday was on hand from Victory Gardens with her trowel, for example, hosting workshops, while Michael Unger – formerly of the Biltmore Ping Pong Club – was hosting several outdoor on multiple games. As always, there was music, plenty of people-watching, and – naturally – a deep selection of delicious foods. Take a look!

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