Experience of the Senses…
Web gal recently had to bop over to Vancouver to get a car tune up and other details before its warranty expired. We had a blast and a half waiting for the jobs to be completed. Surrounded by mountains and waterways, Vancouver is easily one of North America’s most beautiful cities. Just such a marvelous city to walk around in, shop and enjoy live entertainment. It’s got a fantastic dining scene with an incredible array of restaurants and also a great place to stay with a plethora of nice hotels from the waterfront to the city streets.
Kicking off our trip was a jaunt down to the convention centre on the waterfront to take in Imagine Van Gogh, the Immersive Exhibition. Let’s face it, most cities’ convention centres are a blight on the landscape, horrible eyesores that city planners should be shot for allowing to be built. But that sure isn’t Vancouver’s. A terrifically designed building of glass and wood, with spectacular views of the Vancouver waterfront. And it was perfect for showing off the Van Gogh Exhibition.
Now keep in mind, this wasn’t a collection of his paintings on loan from another gallery. It was a total immersive experience with huge, 30 foot murals projecting his paintings all around a large room, with accompanying music from Van Gogh’s time period, like excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Bach’s Cello Suite and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major.
It was just such a mind blowing, fun and immersive way to experience Van Gogh’s genius, that the web gal and I had no problem staying and swaying through two viewings of the Van Gogh slides and accompanying music.
Before entering the screening room, there were large signs explaining how the exhibit’s creators came to put it together, along with brief historical notes on Van Gogh’s life and times when he created the paintings we were about to see. Every struggling artist has heard the story that Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime. But what I didn’t know was he got 400 francs for it, which was a lot of money back in his time.
And one other historical note from the signs that made me laugh out loud was one time Van Gogh took a wheelbarrow full of his paintings in offer for a debt he had and the loaner was outraged and told him to take a hike and the loaner’s wife said, well at least you could have taken the wheelbarrow.
After the exhibition, we staggered back thru hot city streets. It was so nice to get back to our air-conditioned suite at the Georgian Court Hotel to enjoy their new infra-red sauna and soak in their new hot tub. For our next hotel visit the web gal may bring her fur baby and try the yummy Italian food at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen & Bar located within the hotel. Hotel guests gave thumbs up for their meals at Frankie’s. All of the staff at the hotel were top notch. The web gal had one of the best sleeps as the bed was so comfortable and the room was quiet.
A great hotel to stay at too if you have an event to attend. (We want to stay here when Elton John comes to Vancouver) 2 minute walk will bring to you BC Place and 5 minute walk will bring you to Rogers Arena. Many celebs have stayed here including one of the Insider’s favorite talents Bonnie Raitt. Check out their wall of fame in the lobby.
After the sauna, soak and a few gin and tonics we were off for dinner at Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House. Joe Fortes is a Vancouver dining institution for over 35 years, it wasn’t surprising to see a line-up in its doorway, even at 8:30 pm, a time when most restaurants are starting to wind down their dining service.
A welcoming hostess escorted us out onto the open air, rooftop balcony. It was wonderful to take in the evening twilight of the Vancouver skyline while the heat slowly eased off. Our meal kicked off with a fabulous appy of crispy calamari. Nice and fresh, no frozen ring horrors, with a fine seasoning of chilis, with sun dried aioli. The web gal could have devoured the entire order.
And then our mains came to the table. The web gal hit the jackpot with her order of Seafood Linguine, a perfectly cooked mélange of large scallops, prawns, clams, mussels, mushrooms and peas, with her linguine covered in a smooth white wine cream sauce. She was in heaven.
But my chop, though visually appealing, was an absolute disaster. Nothing drives me bonkers more than when your waiter or waitress screws up your order, either through sheer laziness or incompetence. When I ordered my chop I specifically told the waitress I would like my chop with a little pink. You could have driven a car over that chop and no juice would have come out of it.
It was obvious to me she had just punched the order into her computer and had been too lazy to go down a flight of stairs to tell either the chef or line cook that this guy wants it a little pink so don’t overcook it. How do I know? Because chefs and cooks like it when you appreciate their meat and if she had told them that, they wouldn’t have turned it into a dry white shoe.
That’s another dining thing that drives me bonkers, this paranoid, nut bar obsession that all pork has to be cooked through into some seared white, tough shoe. Ever since modern refrigeration came into being, trust me, you won’t die or barf your head off if your pork is a little pink. In fact, it will taste a helluva lot better with some juice in it than some over-cooked white shoe.
After cutting into it, I called the waitress over and told her this wasn’t what I ordered. There was no apology or promise to make it right, just this half-snarled, do you want another one. No I don’t. I don’t want to sit here for another 20 minutes waiting for my meal to come when it should have been done right in the first place. And the web gal was happy to share her meal with me. Plus, she was so happy with her food, she left a 20% tip, but told me it wasn’t because of the service which she thought was bordering on rude too, but because she loved the food so much and the rest of the team deserved to be recognized for their skills.
Oh well, we didn’t let it ruin our night as the rest of the meal had been fine. And Joe Fortes is opening a branch at Whistler and considering how well they do fish, it will be a welcome addition to local and international guests. I got Wayne Sych, Director of Culinary Operations, at Joe Fortes to do the NSI quiz, cheers and enjoy…
What is your favorite drink? A classic bourbon old-fashioned is usually my go-to, but I do love Old World Rieslings!
What makes a great restaurant? A great restaurant is the whole package: quality of food, service and overall hospitality.
What is your favorite place to eat in Vancouver besides Joe Fortes? Le Crocodile because Michel Jacobs always delivers. Dinner is perfect every time!
Favorite thing about living and working in Vancouver? The diversity – especially a wide variety of different cuisines. You can walk down a street and whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it!
Any wine, meal or trip on your current bucket list? For a culinary trip, I would love to go to Boston to check out the different seafood restaurants. However, a particular restaurant I’d love to go to would be French Laundry in Napa, California.
Any brushes with celebrities? During my time at Joe’s, I have had my fair share of encounters with different celebrities. Some standouts are Michael Bublé, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Rob Lowe.