New start... in the Wet Coast!

Trip Start Sep 05, 2008
1
Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So I've been in Vancouver since Sep 5th and getting my bearings.  I'm applying for jobs all over the city and learning to use the public transportation system.  Mikey's also sharing all his yummy little discoveries, introducing me to what this city can offer.  Though their Night Market pales in comparison to what T and I discovered in Hong Kong (I can barely shave off a dollar or two off the merchandise I'm trying to buy.  All that SE Asia haggling training, down the drain!), Richmond abounds in tasty treats!  Among them, Mikey presented me with succulent soup dumplings that hail from Shanghai.  Similar to wonton dumplings, the wrapper contains a meat filling, but after steaming, these tasty morsels release a mouthful of lovely broth.  You have to dip the dumpling in the green onion vinegar soy sauce, gingerly bite off the top and suck out the meaty juice before wolfing down that bad boy.  I learned the hard way (it only takes ONE lesson to learn this): do NOT just stuff that tempting treat straight in your mouth!  The scalding broth will burn a tonsil clean off as the boiling liquid splurts to the back of your throat, causing you to almost choke and spit out the now evil morsel as you lose all feeling and taste buds in your mouth.  Never again.

Another thing: DIM SUM.  The sheer size of the Chinese community out here has a directly proportional effect on the variety, quality and quantity of dim sum in Richmond.  Not surprisingly, there's definitely a wider array of exotic options out here than in Montreal (Pa, not just chicken feet!).  A few weeks ago, we went to a fancier dim sum place with some of Mike's EA friends and I tasted a dish (among many during that meal!) that consisted of 3 different kinds of sauteed Asian mushrooms topped by the fleshy layer of a pomelo rind.  I was intrigued.  I love mushrooms, and I really enjoy pomelo, but had never tasted the skin prepared in this way.  In the end, the fleshy rind was more texture than taste, but am curious to know if it's chock full of vitamins and minerals or something.

We haven't gone to a strictly sushi place yet, but I remember from my previous visits in the past 5 years that this city ROCKS on that front as well.  Mouthwateringly fresh raw fish on perfect mounds of rice in esthetically pleasing presentations at a fraction of the cost and half the time it would take to be served in Montreal.  AMAZING.  Most sushi restos literally have a small army of sushi chefs waiting to turn orders around.  My belly thanks them for that.

Ummm, so as you can tell, I enjoy my food.  You should have gotten the picture from my previous blogging while travelling through SE Asia and Buenos Aires!

But all is not perfect in the province that tauts itself as the "Best Place On Earth".  Would such a place also consist of HORRIBLE drivers?!?!?  I think not!  Why oh WHY do slow drivers insist on driving in the left lane, and why oh why do people not attempt to pass them?  It seems that Vancouverites are more than happy to follow at snail's pace behind the slowpoke in the front!  Then when you attempt to pass the slow guy, someone in the neighbouring lane choses to slow down right next you at that very moment, boxing you in from passing.  ARRRRGH.  Not that I'm a crazy fast driver.  Far from.  But there's a huge difference between a safe driver and a lame driver...

Another delightful observation I've had on life out west has been on Vancouverites themselves.  Now, if you get a Quebecois really nice and angry, an entertaining show will ensue.  Potentially animated gesticulation punctuated by explosive expletives consisting of, "OstiTabarnaque!!" or "Colisse! T'es cave!", or "Esti d'tapette de calisse!!!" and my personal favorite, "Va CHIER!!!"  (enjoy looking up the translations) may follow.  I was on a relatively crowded bus one afternoon, and one man took it upon himself to heckle the driver and the technician who was checking the bus ticket mechanism.  He blamed the driver for letting on more people on the bus than legally allowed (though how he was able to do an exact headcount beats me!), that the driver wasn't doing her job properly, that he couldn't believe that his tax dollar was paying her salary, and seemed too disgruntled to just move to the back where funny enough, there were empty seats.  His rant continued, his voice raised slightly, but nary a swear word and the worst thing that came out of his mouth was, "You, yeah I'm talking to you, Mirror Guy."  That's because the technician had looked into the rearview mirror to see who was shooting off at the mouth then rolled his eyes at the bus driver, which the Heckler had caught.  I was too entertained to move back myself to find a seat, adding an extra body to the crowd at the front of the bus but had to get off soon after and couldn't watch the end of the show.  Darn.  Ok, so not all Montrealers would have caused a scene like that, nor sound off in Quebecois swear words.  Most likely, they would know the drill and move to the back of the bus (good old bus 165, and 129).  That's just what you do.  But I was totally mesmerized by the fact that the Heckler was bugging out on such a minor issue.

All in all, Vancouver is a pretty cool town.  Mikey and I caught a number of flicks during the recent Vancouver International Film Fest.  We saw a humanistic portrayal of a washed out martial artist movie star, the Muscles from Brussels in "JCVD" (Jean Claude Van Damme); a hilarious Desi version of American Idol in a movie called "Loins of Punjab Presents"; a slightly long but very entertaining animated film about the Ramayana with jazzy songs overlaying the story in "Sita Sings the Blues"; a not too depressing environmental doc called "Addicted to Plastic"; an ode to Buenos Aires' tango music legends, much in the same vein as Buena Vista Social Club called "Cafe de los Maestros", and finally Madonna's contribution called "Filth and Wisdom".  I highly recommend all of them!

p.s. I found a smoke meat resto on West 4th Street called PHAT (Pretty Hot And Tempting, get it?!) that does this Montreal classic justice... But sadly, they charge almost DOUBLE the price for the privilege to sink your teeth into savoury soft smoked pastrami since they have to import this delicacy all the way from Montreal, from the same supplier as Schwartz's.  Funny enough, PHAT is too clean for me.  It lacks the grit, attitude and characters that flavours restos like The Main or Schwartz on St. Laurent Street.  Next on the list: gotta find a good bagel place.

I promise.  Sooner or later, I'll stop playing the city comparison game.  But in the meantime...  I'm going to enjoy being a tourist in my new city and discovering cool little spots to share with you guys.

p.p.s.  I started crocheting to kill the time while I look for work.  A comfy beige wool throw is emerging from the skeins.  Next up: I'm going to learn how to knit, and Trina, I'm holding you to your promise to stake out a knitting cafe so we can rock the joint with our needles and gossip...
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diggitydave
diggitydave on

=)
wow seriously, i think u've done more in vancouver than i have in these last 10 years. good stuff! and your blogging is actualy interesting to read. :)

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