Birthdays and bucket lists

Last week I celebrated my birthday. How did I do it? With food, of course!

Now, let’s back-track a little for context. Last year, David and I had wills drawn up – an important task for parents. In December, David had a collision with a car while he was biking to work. No major injuries, but it reminded me that our lives are but a vapour. All that to say, we have been talking more about “bucket lists” and how/when to get the items checked off those lists.

I had thought that a culinary tour, probably to a Mediterranean country, should be on my “bucket list”. Realistically, it should be in my 10 year plan. Wait a minute … what’s the point if I might not get to it for 10 years?! So, I decided I would use my birthday as the excuse to go on a culinary tour.

Ok, I did not hop on a plane to Greece and sample the most wonderful Moussaka in the world. Instead, I took the opportunity to experience another culture right here in Vancouver. Honestly, Vancouver has much to offer and it was challenging to decide which cuisine to “tour”.

I settled on Middle Eastern. Yes, I realize that is very broad. I could have definitely done something more focused, like French or Italian or Greek or Mexican or German. As much as I like these cuisines, I feel like my cooking is already influenced by them and I really wanted to experience a culture with which I was less familiar.

Considering most of my close friends are also moms of little ones, I kept the tour length to one evening. Understandably, there was still attrition throughout the night. I also wanted the restaurants to be within walking distance of one another so that we allowed our bodies time to digest and had a chance to chat.

The three restaurants I chose were Nuba Café for appetizers, Red Sea Café and Restaurant for the main course, and East is East Chai Lounge for dessert.

So, besides eating food, what do you do on a culinary tour? You learn about the people who make the food: what is their culture, what influences their cuisine, etc. Considering that I would be the “tour guide”, I endeavoured to learn more about Lebanon, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan before the event. I came up with a handful of trivia questions to provide some education (but mostly entertainment) throughout the night.

I have no pictures to share from our first sitting because I was too engrossed in conversation to remember that important part of a blogger’s life. We shared La Feast (for 2) among the four of us. I tried a fresh-squeezed juice there for the first time and it seriously makes me want to go out and buy a juicer! Who knew beets, carrots, ginger, and whatever-else-was-in-it would taste so wonderful together? The food was marvelous, as it always is at Nuba Café.

Next, we chose to share a Veggie Combo for 3 at Red Sea Café and Restaurant.

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Not all the choices were enjoyed equally, so I would say it is worth a return trip to find the dishes I like best. There were also enough leftovers for David’s lunches the next two days. I may have ate a little too much at these two spots, but since I was the only one continuing on, I got a 2.5 km walk before dessert.

Last, but not least, a delicious rice pudding and chocolate pudding at East is East Chai Lounge. Again, I have no photos to offer, so go see it for yourself. Being there fully immerses you and I love the atmosphere: live music, tapestries, wood, Chai. It was the perfect spot to end the evening.

All in all, I am happy to say the evening was a success (not just for me, but my friends told me so, too). It really did feel like a culinary tour (ok, except me being the tour guide and the only consistent person), so I have less of a desire to hop on a plane to an exotic destination. I also appreciate more what we have in Vancouver and want to explore more cultures and cuisines here. And, I really am happy to have shared the experience with my friends rather than strangers. There was so much good conversation, laughter, and fellowship.

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One thought on “Birthdays and bucket lists

  1. Pingback: 2015 resolution review | Hirtopolis

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