Easter Long Weekend aided by Red Pocket

If this had been a two-day weekend, I’d be reeling but thank goodness it is a long weekend and today, the third day, is plans-free to recover and reflect. It has been fairly eventful thanks to “helpers” that directed our adventures to new places and helped us save money.

It’s the way NPY’s family rolls that all three “children” with the parents and the children’s significant others roll together. Eight of us took over two badminton courts perfectly. I hadn’t played badminton for several years so was more than happy to spy a Badminton Vancouver Red Pocket deal (5 all-day passes for two people for $35 – a 50% savings since a single pass is $7). Playing badminton for me is like riding a bicycle for others – it comes back easily. And unlike dancing or running, I (like to think I) exhibit some carefully honed grace and athleticism. NPY chuckled and said it was not true but he admires that I’m actually kind of decent.

Then, upon my suggestion, we went, all eight of us, to Beefy Beef Noodle House, only like one of the best things to arrive on the west-side Chinese food scene. With eight of us, I was able to use all three Red Pocket deals I picked up (deal was $6 to buy $12 of food). We got to sample widely from A’s Taiwanese sausage dish to hot & sour noodle soup (a crowd favourite) and my first taste of pork blood cubes from C’s hotpot.

The parents split after lunch so the rest of us walked around Main Street, poking into some shops. Nice place to visit, wouldn’t want to live there though.

In the evening, NPY and I went to a weekly games night at a friend’s place I hadn’t been to before. We played “the bean field game” (properly known as Bohnanza) and this Pictionary/telephone game. Both were fairly accessible games. I usually just compete with NPY, not wanting to do too shabbily but my usual excuse is “I don’t play games.” As it turns out, we played until past midnight and the next day, Saturday, was National Table Top Day. My Twitter feed was flooded with #TableTopDay tweets and I felt like I should play some more!

I got it into my head that I wanted to go for Easter Brunch but I didn’t actually want to go out on Sunday and crowd with everyone so I made a reservation at Edible Canada at Granville Island for Saturday. Silly me, it was a traffic battle to make our way into and around Granville Island, the common hotspot for Vancouver locals and tourists the moment the sun shines. To amuse myself while NPY looked for parking, I ordered a brunch special maple bacon Caesar (deeply discounted). Part of the choice of Edible Canada was to try this new-ish restaurant that’s been on my list for a while; the other part was to use my Open Table dining cheque (for $26), a lovely reward for making reservations with the system.

We walked around the market to walk off the brunch-full feeling and I discovered June Hunter’s beautiful jewelry incorporating iconic Vancouver images. I still at times use those Vancouver Magazine “100 things to eat” lists as a guide for finding food try try. Because it’s the best, we lined up for Lee’s donuts (honey dip and jelly donuts where the former was by far better). I also tried Van Mag recommended chocolate-walnut rugelach from Siegel’s Bagels, also a good recommendation.

We studied for a bit at a Starbucks where I ended up plugging into a Songza playlist to create a pure coffee shop sound, free of reality that is annoying patrons nearby. We were in the Cambie Village area (my favourite) and so we walked over and pick up groceries. I saw a man carrying his groceries home and walking his small dog, clearly dressed as if he was from the neighbourhood and I remarked how I want to live in the neighbourhood – I lived in Cambie Village before I left Vancouver and these days we still shop there but then have to pack it up in the car and drive to the suburbs, sniff.

I have some ambitious cooking plans today so we kept up the Red Pocket goodness and tried out Szechuan Chongqing (deal was $19 gives you $40 to spend) where the deal was especially nice that we could get a carry away order instead of being forced to dine in. Chongqing is one of those places that has made themselves very accessible to non-Chinese patrons but yet has to stay fairly authentic being in Vancouver. Whenever I place a carry-away order by phone, I feel it is odd to be on “the other side of the fence” and I try to order as I would want to receive the order. While I started speaking in English (such a restaurant needs to be able to provide decent bilingual service), the server could tell from the way I named dishes that I speak the language and she slipped into Chinese. Which is cool. I got to try their dan dan noodles on the Van Mag 100 list but I can’t judge fairly since carry-away and eating somewhat cold is a different experience from what the restaurant intended.

Finally, I finished reading 1Q84, the longest novel I have read in my life so that is a milestone of sorts. My reader app (Aldiko) indicated that the novel was 1,173 pages but a more accurate count is about 928 or 944 (Wikipedia is the former count). It is still not in the league of War and Peace whose first published edition clocks in at 1,225 pages.

Sunday was indeed a “lazy” day. I skipped out on going out for lunch with family – stuff to do! Made a pasta salad, marinated lamb for curry dinner and did some chores. In the afternoon we went to Cafe Artigiano to study (double the number of pages to read!) and I finally got to try It’s to Die For banana bread which I learned (who’s surprised) I can live without. I’m happy that NPY also has course materials to study and when he was done, he kept me company while organizing his next week’s hockey pool line-ups and did some party planning.

Then it was time for my “big” Sunday dinner. I prepared lamb for the first time ever in fenugreek cream curry. NPY thought he had three dinners with a helping each of last night’s leftover mapo tofu, lamb curry and broccoli pasta salad!


On this day..