Meet Vancouver’s newest brewmaster

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Steel Toad brewmaster Chris Charron.

After a long wait and a lot of speculation, the big red barn-like building at 97 East 2nd Ave. (between Ontario and Quebec) is finally open for business.

After opening in October, Steel Toad Brewpub and Dining Hall became the latest entry in Vancouver’s brewing scene (although, at the rate the industry is growing, this statement could be out-of-date by the end of this weekend!). Housed in the former Opsal Steel Building, near Olympic Village, Steel Toad is a spacious, airy gathering place for locals and visitors alike. A large centrepiece bar shares the main floor with dining tables, with another dining area on the mezzanine level. On game nights, a big screen TV screen shows Canucks games. There is also live music.

Steel Toad has a well-stocked whiskey selection, a craft cocktail program and a dinner, lunch and brunch menu. But the on-site brewing is one of the main attractions, and we talked to head brewmaster Chris Charron about his current selection and plans for the future.

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Meet Vancouver’s newest brewmaster

Discovering Vancouver’s Karaoke Scene

Hip Hop Karaoke Photo Credit: Mark Gutknecht

Hip Hop Karaoke Photo Credit: Mark Gutknecht

Sooner or later, everyone— even the most reserved of us— is overrun with the compulsion to go to a bar, pick up a microphone, and rattle the eardrums of a room full of strangers. I’m talking, of course, about karaoke.

I was struck by this urge not long after my September move to Vancouver. One might expect that after embarrassing myself with a rendition of Justin Bieber’s Boyfriend in Beijing, China (a story for another time), I might never take the stage again. But as I settled into my new life on Canada’s West Coast, my vocal chords once again began to hunger for a decibel range unacceptable for anywhere but a karaoke night. Tom Taylor’s inner rock star, to the chagrin of everybody in a one hundred kilometer radius, was getting antsy. And so began my exploration of Vancouver’s thriving karaoke scene.

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Discovering Vancouver’s Karaoke Scene

Heli Wine Tours come to Vancouver

Sommelier of the sky Alana Burns takes folks to Vista D'Oro Winery.

Sommelier of the sky Alana Burns takes folks to Vista D’Oro Winery.

Have you ever planned an afternoon of wine touring and had to flip a coin to decide who would be the DD (designated driver)? When you’re wine touring with only one other person say a partner, best friend or your favourite wine-loving auntie, this system kind of stinks.

Enter wine and events consultants Fork and Grape and Sky Helicopters. Sommelier Alana Burns has thought a lot about the logistics of Fraser Valley wine touring.

If they do heli wine touring in Napa and Bordeux, why not Vancouver? Why not help people have an afternoon of airtime adventure and wine sipping by flying guests from winery to winery via helicopter, Burns thought. After all, who needs a DD when you can hire a DP (designated pilot)?

This fall, Sky Helicopters and Burns’ company Fork and grape started shuttling lucky duos to some of the Lower Mainland’s best wineries via helicopter. Continue reading:
Heli Wine Tours come to Vancouver

Best Korean Food in Vancouver 2014? You make the call!

Photo credit Abex | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit Abex | Wikimedia Commons

Vancouver is justly famous for lots of different cuisines.  There’s our fresh West Coast-style dining, with local seafood and 100-mile ingredients.  We have incredibly authentic Chinese food and, of course, some of the best sushi this side of Tokyo.  But what often gets overlooked is how good Vancouver’s Korean food is.

Take a walk down Robson or Denman Streets downtown or a drive along Kingsway and out to Metrotown and you’ll find dozens – possibly hundreds – of Korean restaurants. Many are just mom-and-pop joints, but they all seem to cater to a discriminating, local clientele who know their bulgogi from their bibimbap.  And they always seem to be packed.

But if you’re not plugged into the Korean restaurant scene, finding a great place to try Korean food can be a bit of a challenge – which is why I’m asking for your help.  Do you have a favourite Korean restaurant in Vancouver or the surrounding cities? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.  

I’ll get things started by mentioning one of my favourites.   Continue reading:
Best Korean Food in Vancouver 2014? You make the call!

Vancouver Private Dining Room Guide: 6 Spots for Your Next Intimate Meal

Miku Restaurant's Blue Sky Room - stunning views paired with your food.

Miku Restaurant’s Blue Sky Room – stunning views paired with your food.

Sometimes your group just needs a little privacy. Whether it’s for a hush hush surprise birthday or an ultra important business meeting, Vancouver has plenty of great rooms for private party planners to pick from.

If you’re like an event-minded extrovert like me, you’ve likely been ‘volun-told’ to organize your staff Christmas party. Friends often approach me for suggestions so I thought I would round up my picks for this season’s private, winter shindigs.

Whether you want to nibble innovative sushi, share pedigreed pub fare or feast on rich Italian fare, Vancouver restaurants have you covered.

Below you’ll find a short list of some of new, and tried and true private dining spots in our foodie-filled city.

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Vancouver Private Dining Room Guide: 6 Spots for Your Next Intimate Meal