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questions of place & home

Posts tagged ‘Coal Harbour’

How to eat chicken-fried gator? Chomp it quickly

The fried gator is buttery soft, surrounded by a thin layer of crunchy batter.

This is a story about food: about longing, and the yearning for comfort. There are many words, but no photographs; you have been warned. May the words flow with you, and may hunger strike at your desire for more …

Comfort food, comfortable chomps

It all began innocently: a sudden rush, a deep craving for comfort food: southern-style fried chicken and waffles.

But “chicken and waffles”? Definitely.

Depending upon what I’m feeling, I crave all kinds of comfort food; for example:

•   A steaming bowl of wonton (wuntun) noodle soup, because that’s my childhood in Vancouver.
•   A peameal bacon sandwich from the St. Lawrence Market, after seven years in The Big Smoke (Toronto).
•   A “Juicy Lucy” burger with a side of tater tots, after a couple of years in the Minneapolis/St. Paul.
•   An “empanada de pino” (baked meat pie) and a bowl of “cazuela de mariscos” (seafood chowder), after five years in Chile.
•   Döner kebab and currywurst, because 14 consecutive years still aren’t enough in Germany.

But where am I going to find “chicken & waffles” in Vancouver?

I’m at a seminar about social-media by Rebecca Coleman, and she also writes a lot about food. I inform her of my quest, and her recommendation is swift, straight to Chewie’s.

They have two locations: one downtown by Coal Harbour, and the other in Kitsilano. Their online presence leads me to their brunch menu, helpfully listing “chicken and waffles.” But I’m chomping at the bit, when Rebecca mentions chicken-fried alligator, and Chewie’s has half-price happy-hour afternoons.


SOLD! Where do I sign up?

I soon realize this first visit to Chewie’s is going to be different: no camera, no photographs. Why?

I want the experience to be free of burdens: to photograph the setting; to photograph the food as it’s brought to the table; to find the “right light”; that I need a shot, any shot, a perfect shot.

I simply remove the idea from my mind, and I’m free.

But is an online post worth reading if there aren’t any photographs, especially if there’s food?

Some would say “no”, but that’s the challenge and opportunity, to see if the following description can hold readers to the end of this post.


Full with 2 Apps

It’s 330pm on a Thursday afternoon, and I see soon after entering their Coal Harbour location that the place is alive with sounds of activity from conversations and cooking. The restaurant is at about one-third capacity, which is fine because I won’t feel rushed dining on my own. Some well-dressed business folks have occupied a couple of tables by the far end, getting their weekend off to an early happy start.

In time for their half-price Happy Hour, my eyes go to their “First Bites” or appetizers. Recent experience has shown appetizers tend to be small, and I’ve already decided I want two. Instead of beer, it’s hot tea; there’s more writing afterwards.

Little time passes, and my two requests are brought to the table at the same time.

1. Pan Seared Calamari: B.C. Humboldt squid (not breaded) with smoked paprika aioli, and cucumber and onion jalapeño mint-vinaigrette salad.

Because it’s easier to hide the quality of the squid behind breading, I prefer calamari unbreaded. The mollusk is sliced strategically for guests; from a distance, the plate appears suspiciously like penne pasta in a creamy sauce. “Best seafood penne ever!” Closer examination shows there’s bite-sized squid in small tubes; no knife is necessary. Removed are the little tentacles so often disconcerting to some, but I find I miss the wae tentacles.

The squid “tubes” are cooked perfectly: undercooked and it’s too chewy, overcooked and the tubes hang limp on the fork. The smooth creamy spicy aioli complements the flavours of the pan sear and the deep sea. The accompanying cucumber and onion salad provides another counterpoint with fresh garden textures and the jalapeño vinaigrette pushes out a slightly sour edge balancing the oil used in the sear and the cream in the aioli. Eating a couple of tubes with the salad in the same forkful works very well.

2. Chicken-Fried Gator & Hush Puppies: buttermilk-soaked chicken-fried alligator, corn hush puppies, jalapeño jelly

I’m sure the first thing anyone thinks on first sight is: hey, chicken fingers and a fried carb! Come to think of it, “fingers & fries” are a comfort food, too.

Both gator strips and hush puppies appear golden, fried at the right temperature for the right amount of time; neither is burnt or undercooked. The first bite blows away the thought of “chicken fingers”. Marinated for hours in buttermilk, the strips of alligator meat is lightly breaded and fried. Tearing easily, the meat is not chewy; the soft gator meat is a nice contrast with the crispy exterior. As the batter is lightly seasoned, the jalapeño jelly dip for the gator adds another sweet-and-spicy layer to the flavours. Instead of the ubiquitous fries, that “fried carb” are tasty savory spheres of fried cornmeal batter. They have a touch of sweet, reminding me of Tim Hortons’ Timbits, but I can see from the open kitchen the hush puppies are made on order. The accompanying salad garnish composed of crispy bitter arugula leaves and thinly sliced sweet beet slivers provide additional balance to colour, flavour, and texture.

As appetizers go, each is sufficient as a starter to be shared among two or three people, and with two full-sized appetizers consumed, I am very content. The hot tea is a great choice, as the sharp bitter drink cuts through and helps to “wash down” the fatty food. That’s an important lesson after hundreds of dim sum/yum cha sessions.

I enjoyed both appetizers, but the clear favourite is the gator. If you must have images, you can bank on the Internet:

Chicken-fried gator :
Rebecca Coleman for VanCity Buzz | Eatiful | Gastrofork

Pan fried calamari :
Food and Wine with MyWinePal | Eat With Jenny | Jeremy Lin (in Flickr)


Inevitably, return for more

I’ll have to go back and try their crabcakes; it’s only fair to compare and contrast against the famous crabcakes I had in Baltimore. I have to go back for weekend brunch to dig into their chicken and waffles. And they have oysters: lots of `em. So that’s another visit yet …

Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I did not receive any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the restaurant. I visited Chewie’s Coal Harbour on 6 November 2014, and I shelled out my own clams for all food and drink. After paying the bill, I informed the staff of my visit as a hungry and motivated guest. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-67t.

Another 16-hour Canada Day marathon in Vancouver (2014)

The forecast called for a hot mostly sunny day to celebrate Canada’s national holiday on the 1st of July. It’s another invitation to continue exploring my birthplace here in Vancouver, British Columbia. Spanning a period of 16-plus hours including sunrise and sunset, I’ve collected 20 photographs among 100 kilometres (60 miles) of travel throughout the region. This year’s marathon follows last year’s debut effort.


1.   542am, 1st light from Vancouver Convention Centre

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

I knew from last year’s experience first light occurs to the northeast. Aside from early risers and joggers, there are few others around. There’s something magical about the harbour with the serenity found at sunrise. The “sail” roof from Canada Place and the cranes at the CenTerm port facility appear to reach up into the sky, clearing the sky of wispy cirrus for the morning sun.

Vancouver Convention Centre


2 and 3.   601-700am, Coal Harbour

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

A great deal of activity in Vancouver’s harbour is defined by the seaplanes flying in and out of Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre. At this early hour, it’s an unusual yet sensible sight to see these seaplanes parked, ready to go. Over on the right is a Harbour Patrol vessel.

Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

Condominium towers and commercial high rises hug and hover over the southern shoreline of Burrard Inlet. In the summer, this entire area including Coal Harbour is illuminated by the morning sun. Reach up and seek out the opportunity to make the ever-present selfie … click.

Coal Harbour


4.   701-800am, Coal Harbour

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

Early morning also brings out the rowers from the Rowing Club: the singles, pairs, fours, and sixes. There’s very little traffic on the water, except for the occasional tugboat and pleasure craft. Clearly evident are the light breeze, still waters, soaring peaks, and big skies for company. The description “morning row, uncontested” seems appropriate.

Vancouver Rowing Club


5.   801-900am, Stanley Park

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

This area began as intertidal mud flats connected with the waters of Burrard Inlet via Coal Harbour. The 1916 construction of the causeway through Stanley Park cut off the “lost lagoon” (Pauline Johnson), and became a freshwater lake supplied by runoff from neighbouring creeks in the park. The Jubilee Fountain was constructed in 1936 to celebrate Vancouver’s 50th anniversary. Important to visitors and residents, Lost Lagoon is essential for wildlife diversity.

Stanley Park’s landmarks | Lost Lagoon


6.   901-1000am, West Vancouver

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

In rediscovering West Vancouver, I knew I had to photograph this beautiful structure, a smartly constructed glass and concrete building with optimized minimal footprint and whose heating and cooling system draws upon the underlying geothermal mass. It can be no accident that the smooth rooflines mirror the shape of the mountain ridge in the background. Beauty, form, and function in harmony …

West Vancouver Community Centre


7.   1001-1100am: Dundarave, West Vancouver

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

Dundarave Village is a short walk west along Marine Drive from the Community Centre. Having been here before, local favourite Delany’s Coffee is my choice for morning coffee in the area: great coffee, friendly folks at the counter. These folks are clearly prepared for Canada Day. What’s even better? Suspended from the ceiling is a miniature railway to delight kids of all ages.

Delany’s Coffee (Dundarave)


8 and 9.   1101am-1200pm: Ambleside, West Vancouver

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

In West Vancouver’s Ambleside, the sculpture “Overflow IV”, by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, is a sitting faceless figure, consisting entirely of alphabet letters. To complement the wispy patchy cirrus cloud overhead, a clever change in orientation forces the viewer to consider whether or not the sculpture is truly “overflowing”, trying to speak for itself after all.

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

Designated as West Vancouver’s first designated heritage building, the former ferry building reopened as an art gallery in 1990. But at the beginning of the 20th-century, the small village of West Vancouver was once a cottage and summer getaway from the commotion that was young Vancouver. Until 1947, ferry service to Vancouver began and ended here at Ambleside Landing.

Ferry Building Art Gallery


10.   1201-100pm, Ambleside Park

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

The Welcome Figure is a landmark for West Vancouver, honouring the people, creatures, and land upon which people now inhabit. Made with old growth cedar from nearby Hollyburn Mountain, the figure is a gift from the Squamish Nation and dedicated to the city in 2001. “With open arms to all who pass our shores, this Welcoming Figure was raised at the first K’aya’chtn (gathering of ocean canoes).”

Squamish Nation Welcome Figure


11.   101-200pm, downtown Vancouver

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

I’m waiting for a crosstown bus across from the Vancouver Club in downtown Vancouver. I see a woman in red on the other side of the street, and her path takes her across the front entrance from left to right. She seems to be in a hurry. Where is she going? Is she meeting friends to have fun today? What does Canada Day represent to her? The end of a four-day weekend? Or something more?


12.   201-300pm, Port Moody

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

A callback to history: “Occupy the Trench”. Built in time for Canada Day, a small trench named the McKnight Trench was built next to the Port Moody Station Museum to honour the memory of Port Moody engineer Augustus McKnight who was killed in Belgium at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. These beautiful folks are a part of the present commemoration activity.

“Occupy the Trench”


13.   301-400pm, Port Moody

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

Port Moody Station Museum marks an important historical element in Canada and British Columbia. The province of BC joined Canadian confederation upon the promise and construction of a national railway. Constructed in 1908, the building housed the second rail station in Port Moody, until passenger rail service stopped in 1976. The building was moved to its present location in 1978, and reopened as Port Moody’s historical museum in 1983.

Port Moody Station Museum


14.   401-500pm, Port Moody

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

At the north end of Rocky Point Park, the pier sees a number of boat launches, and pleasure boats large and small are out and about on a breezy afternoon along this eastern edge of Burrard Inlet. Visible on the other side of the Inlet is the town of Ioco, an abbreviation for the Imperial Oil Corporation. Imperial built an oil refinery across from Port Moody in 1914, and began construction of the Ioco Townsite next to the refinery in 1921. Ioco was incorporated into Port Moody in 1992, and declared a Heritage Conservation Area in 2002.

Rocky Point Park | Port Moody Arm, Burrard Inlet


15.   501-600pm, Waterfront Station

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

This building and area marks the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), a vital transportation link in the late-19th and early-20th century contributing to the growth of the city of Vancouver and the economic development of the young Canadian nation. Constructed in 1914, the building housed the third CPR station in Vancouver. The building is now home to Waterfront Station, a major intermodal public transport hub for city and suburbs. With proximity to Canada Place, holiday crowds in downtown Vancouver stream in and out of the building.

Waterfront Station


16.   601-700pm, YVR Airport

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

At Vancouver’s international airport (YVR), this sign greets travelers as they enter the airport from the Skytrain station. That is, if they’re paying any attention and looking up at the sign, and beyond to the figures and shapes suspended from above. But the sign represents something more with its message in the nation’s two official languages (English, French) and the Chinese language representing the largest ethnic minority in the region. “Welcome to the airport; you all have a good trip …”


17.   701-800pm, YVR Airport

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

Many companies offer virtual or call-in “help desks” for customers to call for help and ask questions. This “help desk” is on the departures level of the international terminal at YVR Airport. It’s by accident you see here in this photo two “faceless” staff; the only faces visible are of passengers.


18.   801-900pm, YVR Airport: international arrivals

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

I’ve made this photo at the arrivals level in the international terminal at YVR Airport. One flight from London and another from China have just landed. It’s poignant, at least to me, to see streams of people arriving in Vancouver on Canada Day. No doubt some are going to see Vancouver and Canada in entirely new light; no doubt some will want to stay. “Welcome to Canada, and welcome to Vancouver …”

YVR Vancouver Airport


19.   915pm, final rays from Kitsilano

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

Overcast skies make beautiful sunsets, but subsequent overnight skies are awful for any kind of observing. But that’s of little importance to the crowds gathered here at Kitsilano Beach; all they’d like is a beautiful colourful end to a very hot summer day. Those emerging rays are actually parallel, and they’re called “crepuscular (twilight) rays” which by a trick of optics appear to radiate outward from the location of the sun in the sky.

Kitsilano Beach


20.   901-1000pm, Kitsilano Beach

Vancouver, BC, Canada - 1 July 2014, Canada Day

With this final photograph, I bear witness to the final light of the day, and witness to others who are also observers of the very same thing. Happy Canada Day!


Every photo above is marked with a location pin in the first map below. All trips with TransLink public transport are indicated in the second map below. I traveled to all of the locations with a $9.75 DayPass, and covered 100 kilometres (62 miles) in a total of 10 trips with bus and SkyTrain.


Oh Canada!

•   The National Anthem with Heritage Horns, daily at noon in Vancouver
•   The National Flag, since 1965
•   Canada Day: Vancouver 2013

I made all of the photos above with a Canon 6D camera on a hot and sunny Canada Day (1 July) 2014. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-5mq.

Inukshuk, First Beach, English Bay, ayyulshun, Salish Sea, West End, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Vancouver city by day

I was born and raised in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I left Vancouver in 1994, and for the next 17 years, I hadn’t spent more than one to two weeks in any subsequent visit.

I returned to Vancouver on 2012 January 4 after leaving job, career, and country of residence behind. In the six following weeks, I discovered new aspects to my hometown, and rediscovered “old” things I hadn’t encountered in over 20 years.

With this gallery, I’m showing parts to Vancouver which make the city beautiful and compelling. Anyone can find these gems for themselves at no charge, apart from the cost of public transit, because, really, why are you driving around town? Another gallery showing Vancouver at night will be posted very soon.

Here is some more photo goodness from Vancouver:

I made the photos above on January 2011, January 2012, and February 2012. This post is published on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

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