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.
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.
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.