Have you been to a YVR Beer Tweetup? You’re invited!

YVR Beer Tweetup!
YVR Beer Tweetup!

Beer is one of the best social lubricants ever invented. Put a bunch of strangers in a room, add tasty craft beer and voilà, it’s a party! My pals Jonny Evans (@JonnyBeers) and Nick Martin (@VancityBeerGuy) put on a semi regular craft beer meetup, the soon to be internationally famous YVR Beer Tweetup to be precise, and the next one has two awesome things going for it and I think you should come.

Fried chicken at The Park
Fried chicken at The Park

Awesome thing number 1, It’s at The Park at English Bay, a cool new spot that occupies the former home of Checkers at the Best Western Sands Hotel on Davie St. near Denman, seconds from beautiful English Bay. I visited The Park just after it opened and was pretty impressed with the food and beer menus. Check out my review HERE.

Awesome thing number 2, it’s on a FRIDAY! Usually YVR Beer Tweetups are on a non Friday weekday, most often Thursday. To have a venue commit to a Friday is awesome, it means more people will come because they won’t be worried about being zombies on a work day.

You can RSVP on Facebook ( and Like their page while you’re at it) and follow YVR Beer Tweetup on Twitter for the latest updates like who’s coming and what tasty casks will be tapped! I’ll be there, Rochele will be there and you’ll be there too! I said YOU”LL BE THERE TOO! I yelled so now you have to go. Oh and it’s on January 18th…

See you there everyone!

Scott.

Advertisements

Red Robin, It’s like a 90’s time machine!

I remember it like it was yesterday, I was in high school. My first visit to Red Robin was in the mid 90’s at their brand new Guildford location in Surrey. It was great, lots of retro posters all over the walls, a train that circled the room hanging from the ceiling and these crazy shaft driven ceiling fans. The menu was centred around burgers which were pretty good and they had “Non stop pop” which wasn’t that common in 1995.

It's a plane!
It’s a plane!

Fast forward 17 years, outside of Red Robin it’s 2012, inside…it’s still 1995! The same posters cover the walls although they’re very faded, the fans are still there but the train is sadly gone. There’s so much brass in this restaurant and the colours are pure 90’s. The fact that “What’s the frequency Kenneth” by REM came on while we were eating was perfect, it totally fit the mood of the place. The menu is pretty much unchanged with a few new burger variations, the beer menu is pure Macro brewery garbage but at least they have Guinness on tap. Somewhere over the last 17 years they’ve added “Non stop fries” to their menu, I’m ok with that.

Prime Chophouse Burger
Prime Chophouse Burger

I ordered the Prime Chophouse Burger, a heavyweight for sure. Nestled between it’s Onion bun (with about 4 specks of onion on it) is a surprisingly good beef patty, horseradish, steak sauce, provolone cheese and crispy onion straws. All of this was held together with a large steak knife thrust through an onion ring into the heart of the burger.You know what, this burger is pretty damn good! I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did and the steak fries, which come seasoned with Red Robin’s own seasoning salt, are good to!

This location has always been busy, there’s almost always a wait for a table but Red Robin has seen some local closures in the last few years, most notably their Surrey/Newton location and their Vancouver/Broadway location. Red Robin works in the suburbs, for now, but it desperately needs a HUGE face lift. It’s so dated it makes me feel really old because I remember being young and it looking exactly the same. 17 years is too long to stick with one look. I wonder how much longer the Robson location will last?

Scott.

Looking ahead to 2013

2012 sucked, plain and simple. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot to be thankful for and most of the problems I encountered over the year have worked out for the better or they’re far enough behind me that I can look at them and smile instead of wanting to punch people in the throat. There is one thing that will never get better though, the loss of Cooper my wonderful dog. He is profoundly missed around my house and I will never forget all of the things he helped me get through, never judging me, never too busy to listen and always ready with a smelly dog kiss and a wagging tail.

RIP buddy
RIP buddy

Looking ahead is tough but I’ve never really laid out goals for myself and I have a few things I want to accomplish this year. First off I want to find some time and some funding to work on a book I’ve been chipping away at for a couple of years. I’m launching a crowd sourced funding campaign early in the new year to see if I can actually make it a reality. The book is about my personal journey during the birth of my daughter and how fathers are treated and viewed in a NICU setting. Other dads need to know that someone has been there before them and there is reason to have hope that your child will make it. If I don’t reach my fundraising goal, which is $50000 in 120 days, I’m going to donate every dollar to Variety BC.

Hayley in the NICU
Hayley in the NICU

Next up I want to get involved in Social Media Marketing. There are some amazing local businesses in the Surrey/Langley area that aren’t capitalizing on their current popularity by using social media to promote themselves. I’m going to be very picky when it comes to clients as I want to ensure I can give them the results they want and also maintain a regular Monday – Friday job.

Blue collar hero
Blue collar hero

I posted earlier this week about getting back in shape and this is very important to me. It’s not a “resolution”, it has to be a complete lifestyle change. Eating better, using the personal training sessions I was given as a gift to their full potential and dropping a few bad habits are the only way I’ll succeed. Sorry bacon, you’ll be seeing my face a lot less now.

Too much bacon :-(
Too much bacon 😦

I think a new tattoo is in my future as well. I got my first one this year and I love it. So many people told me that tattoos are addictive and they were all totally right. All I need is time to think about what I want and where I want it but once I decide you can follow along on Twitter, I’ll post pics before, during and after.

My first tattoo
My first tattoo

The most important thing I do this year will be making sure my family comes before anything else. I lost sight of that last year and almost lost everything I love. I’m very thankful that things are heading in the right direction and can’t wait to see my daughter learn and grow in 2013 and beyond. As always you can follow me on Twitter (@WFLBC) and on Facebook (Facebook.com/WFLBC). Also I hear my Superfantastic co-blogger Rochele is planning to write some more for WFLBC and I think that’s awesome because she’s awesome! Check out her Resolutions for 2013 in her post at StopDropandRo.com!

Happy New Year everyone and thank you so much for your support and continued interest in my haphazard adventures.

Scott.

 

 

2012 in review – Album of the year – The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter

Looking back at 2012 is tough for me, I lost my dog Cooper, had some personal problems and struggled with some ongoing mental health issues that I think I’ve always had but I’ve never wanted to admit or deal with. One thing that has always helped me through dark times is music. The Avett Brothers album The Carpenter was on full loop mode from the day it was released.

The music is skilfully written and performed, the lyrics carry a lot of meaning for me and as much as I’ve played it over the last few months it hasn’t gotten stale or old at all, it’s truly the best album of 2012.

Here’s a sample.

Check out more of their music at TheAvettBrothers.com

Scott.

2012 in Review – Favourite video – Leeside Skateboard Mayhem

As 2013 approaches let’s look back on some awesome moments from 2012. This video, shot in East Vancouver at Leeside Skatepark, was originally posted in 2011 but I first saw it in a post at VancityBuzz.com this past Halloween.

It’s WFLBC’s favourite video of the year, enjoy!

Scott.

WFLBC sneak peek. Beast & Brine is coming!

The beast is coming
The beast is coming

Tucked away beside South Surrey’s Fieldstone Artisan Breads is an empty store front with it’s windows papered over. Inside this space the team behind White Rock’s Uli’s Restaurant is creating something amazing. Beast & Brine is coming and it can’t get here soon enough for me.

Beast&Brine

Specializing in Charcuterie and speciality cheeses, Beast & Brine is like nothing else in the Fraser Valley, in fact it’s the first shop of it’s kind in Greater Vancouver bringing a truly European style Charcuterie shop to the masses.

The team
The team

Cured meats, sausage, pates and more made in house by some of the most talented people I know,  speciality cheeses brought in from Quebec which aren’t available anywhere else in BC and the bacon, oh god the bacon. If you’ve eaten at Uli’s you know about their bacon, soon you’ll be able to buy it and take it home!

The best window in town
The best window in town

The equipment is on it’s way, top of the line stuff. A smokehouse, a Sous Vide kettle,  meat grinders, sausage makers and so much more. Custom coolers, one with a window that faces out to the retail area so everyone can see the product in the making. Add this all to great branding, from the logos to hats and t-shirts, everything with a funky old time feel. The team behind it is a fantastic group of people, if anyone can make this a success it’s them.

Follow their progress on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beastandbrine) and keep an eye on their website (www.beastandbrine.com) which should be launching soon. You should also follow Uli’s renowned chef Ryan Bissell (@chefbissell) and Uli’s Restaurant (@ulis_restaurant) on twitter, they’re the reason this little piece of heaven exists. Opening time is tentatively planned to be the end of January or the beginning of February. Stay tuned for more details.

Scott.

Explaining the design flaw on the new Port Mann Bridge

Today’s afternoon commute was excruciating with every bridge in town feeling the effects of a blast of winter weather. The new $2.46 billion Port Mann Bridge was hit the hardest thanks to a glaring design flaw that saw huge chunks of ice falling from its supporting cables onto the bridge deck, damaging vehicles and injuring motorists. Having just opened a few short weeks ago this is the first hiccup (and a major one at that) in the young bridges life.

Photo - TheProvince.com
Photo – TheProvince.com

The problem comes from the design of the bridge. The main support towers of the cable stayed section are located in the centre of the bridge between the east and westbound lanes. The suspension cables run from these towers to the bridge deck in 4 groups, 2 of which connect to the bridge deck along the inner lanes directly under the towers. The other two groups attach to the outer edges of the bridge crossing over all lanes of vehicle traffic as you can see in the picture above. This means that in winter weather if there’s ice build up on the cables it will almost always fall onto the bridge deck as it starts to melt. A pretty major design flaw in a part of the world that experiences winter weather.

Photo - Panaramio.com
Photo – Panaramio.com

There are other cable stayed (suspension) bridges in the Lower Mainland and they are also susceptible to cable icing and this has resulted in ice falling onto their bridge decks but they all have a design that makes it a very rare occurrence. In the  photo of the Alex Fraser bridge at the top of this paragraph you can see that the cables go from outer towers straight down to the sides of the bridge never crossing any lanes of traffic. The Golden Ears bridge and Pitt River Bridge have a similar design. The Pattullo and old Port Mann bridge are steel arch truss bridges which means their supporting structures are significantly lower so any ice fall would be at a much lower velocity. Their arched design also provides a gentle slope for ice and water to run off of during ice melt.

I’m not an engineer, I’m a bridge and architecture enthusiast and as such the design flaw of the new Port Mann didn’t occur to me until ice was crushing peoples windshields today. That being said there are some very well paid, highly educated people who designed this bridge who missed this problem completely. It’s not as bad as the Tacoma Narrows bridge design flaw (see video below) but it is one that will rear its ugly head whenever the weather turns cold and icy.

What can be done about it? That’s a good question. Heating the cables will undoubtedly shorten their lifespan but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that idea released to the public in an effort to calm peoples nerves and this option was dismissed by the designers due to cost. The best answer to that question is one that is never going to happen. The bridge should’ve been designed for ice build up, it wasn’t, it’s too late to change it. I guess someone should’ve told Kiewit Corporation, based in Omaha, Nebraska (which gets winter weather) that it can get cold here on the west coast.

Scott.

Viva Mexico in Langley

Good, authentic Mexican food is a rarity in the GVRD. To find it in Langley? I was a sceptic going in to Viva Mexico, I’d heard from a lot of people that it was authentic, people who know these sort of things. The decor is…um…kitschy is probably the best way to describe it. It’s like a Mexican stereotype threw up on the walls, ceiling and everywhere else. It works though, it’s in what is considered “Downtown” Langley, on the one way section of Fraser Highway (20505 Fraser Highway #103).

The place wasn’t very busy but it was a Sunday at lunch time in the bible belt, I’m sure most people in the neighbourhood were destroying brunch buffet’s at ABC or The Pantry instead. The service was great but I was one of 3 tables so if it wasn’t there would be some explaining to do. My server brought by some house made chips and salsa which were really good. The tortilla chips were thick and super fresh and the salsa was great with a good amount of onion and cilantro for some bite.

Pork Sopes
Pork Sopes

I ordered Sopes for my main, a fist sized thick tortilla with pinched sides with a base a refried beans. Lettuce, cheese. salsa, sour cream and pork, Mmmmm! They also come with chicken or beef but Mexican pork is tasty tasty. These sopes were pretty legit as far as being authentic and they were very tasty too. One order comes with 4 sopes and some guacamole for just over $10, a tremendous deal as I left feeling VERY full. I really need to learn to take food home with me instead of devouring it all in one sitting.

If you’re looking for authentic Mexican this place has it, and it’s reasonably priced!

Scott.

Mega Sushi in Steveston

Vancouver is home to some great sushi, we are very spoiled. Venture outside of Vancouver proper and it becomes quite a chore trying to find sushi that lives up to our high standards. Boys and girls, Mega Sushi in Richmond’s beautiful Steveston neighbourhood is right up there with the best downtown sushi joints.

Located at #100-3131 Chatham street it’s a little bit hidden away from the main shops in the heart of Steveston. It’s right at the end of Chatham street before you enter the very lovely Point Gary Park. Mega Sushi has been recomended to me many times by many people and I’m glad to say it totally lived up to the hype. I ordered a Sushi and Sashimi Bento box for lunch which came with a spicy tuna roll, 3 pieces of nigiri, 2 pieces of chicken karage, assorted sashimi, green salad and miso soup (of course).

Miso soup
Miso soup

The miso soup is, well, miso soup. Nothing earth shattering here but it’s good. That being said there are some places that have horrible miso soup so I guess it counts for something. The bento box was outstanding. The spicy tuna roll was amazing, just the right amount of acid and heat, well rolled, perfect rice, fresh fish, awesome. The sashimi was equally awesome, the ebi (shrimp) was the best ebi sashimi I’ve ever had. Raw shrimp gets fishy really fast so if it’s not fresh you’ll know. The nigiri was also fantastic, again the ebi was great as well as the tuna and salmon. The karage was fresh, hot and not greasy at all with nice seasoning in the breading. The salad was nice with just the right amount of miso dressing.

Sushi & sashimi bento box
Sushi & sashimi bento box

Steveston is quickly becoming one of my favourite food neighbourhoods in the GVRD. Make the trip out for lunch or dinner, bundle up and take a winter stroll along the Pacific and support local businesses in this great community!

Scott.

WFLBC holiday gift guide!

Ah the holidays, it can be a pretty stressful time of year trying to fit in all the parties, visits with family and shopping. For me, figuring out what to buy everyone is always the biggest headache. Here’s a list of a few failsafe places/items for the food lover in your life.

Bacon
Bacon

BACON! That’s right, everyone loves bacon and there’s some great bacon themed gifts out there but the top dog has to be enrolling your loved one in a “Bacon of the month” club. BaconFreak.com offers this wondrous service and unlike much of their competition they ship to Canada!

Mmmm salt
Mmmm salt

SALT! Good quality salt has been a revelation to me this year. Sea salt, smoked salt, rock salt, black salt, Hawaiian red salt. Once you try good salt you’ll wonder how you ever ate table salt. You can buy good quality salt a lots of local shops but my favourite has to be Well Seasoned in Langley. While you’re there you can sign up for cooking classes, buy some amazing kitchen gear and chat with the knowledgeable and friendly staff. Say hi to Angie for me 🙂 If you’re a heat lover like me my pal Don makes his own chilli salt and it’s AMAZING! Check it out at zerocoolchillisalt.com

Benton Bros. on Cambie
Benton Bros. on Cambie

CHEESE! The loves of my life are few. They are, in order, my family, bacon, cheese, Scotch, Craft Beer, everything else. My favourite place for fine hand crafted, artisanal cheese from all around the globe is Benton Brothers Fine Cheese. With 3 locations throughout Vancouver They have something for everyone. Take your time, ask to try a few cheeses before you buy and bring home some gooey, stinky magic.

WCIPA
WCIPA

BEER! Craft beer drinkers are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The list of people who I’ve formed friendships with over the last two years through craft beer is long and awesome. If you love craft beer you need to share that love! Head to Legacy Liquor Store in Vancouver, 16th Street Liquor Store in West Van, O’Hares Liquor Store in Richmond or Central City Liquor Store in Surrey and browse their ample selections of craft beer. New to craft beer? Ask one of the staff members to recommend something, or you could ask me on Twitter, I’m always just a tweet away when it comes to eating and drinking!

Whatever the occasion food and drink are always involved. They make the perfect gift and are way better to receive than socks.

Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus everyone!

Scott.