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British Columbia

Take a Trip to Mexican Corner

By LAURA DENNIS

Delicious and elevated guacamole at The Mexican Corner

Delicious and elevated guacamole at The Mexican Corner

Step out of the cold and be whisked away to a warmer corner of the world at The Mexican Corner. Everything inside—copper furniture, handmade tile floor, Aztec and Mayan artwork—is imported from Mexico, taking you on a tasty tour south of the border. Sip inventive margaritas for all palates and try the gussied-up guacamole with pomegranate and truffle oil. It’s cheaper than a plane ticket.

A Night at the Opera: Die Fledermaus

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Scene from Johann Strauss, Jr.'s Die Fledermaus

Scene from Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Die Fledermaus

Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but in Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Die Fledermaus, it’s also served with champagne. At a lavish soirée attended by Vienna’s high society, the dapper Dr. Falke repays his friend Eisenstein for abandoning him one night, drunk and dressed as a bat, or fledermaus. Staged by the Vancouver Opera, this effervescent comedy is punctuated by laughter, love, music, waltzing and plenty of bubbly. Don’t miss it, Mar. 5 to 8 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Chloë Angus: A Life in Design

Chloë Angus’s winding path from small-town girl to fashion designer

By SHERI RADFORD

Chloë Angus, hard at  work in her gorgeous  new studio and showroom  on East 6th Avenue. (Photo: KK Law)

Chloë Angus, hard at work in her gorgeous new studio and showroom on East 6th Avenue. (Photo: KK Law)

The best way to fuel creativity is to grow up without a television, a phone or even electricity. At least, that’s how it worked for Chloë Angus. What the local fashion designer did have as a child was a small Singer sewing machine—and encouragement from her mother. “There were five kids in my family,” Angus says. “I think my mom was just happy to keep us busy doing different things.” Angus sewed clothes for herself and her dolls, along with “anything I could talk my brothers into wearing on Halloween.”

The family ran an organic seafood farm on the Sunshine Coast, 13.5 km (8.5 mi) by boat from the nearest small town, Egmont. When Angus was 12, she got a summer job working in Egmont’s one consignment store, but she made more money selling t-shirts she’d designed than from her wage. “I would catch live fish and paint them with some fabric paint, and I would press them into the shirt. And I signed on it that it was from Egmont, BC.”

After graduating high school, the bright lights of the big city drew Angus to Vancouver. “I spent most of my childhood scheming how I was going to get out of the small town and into the city. It’s funny, because now I spend most of my adult life scheming how I’m going to get back,” she says. After travelling around and exploring the world a bit, she—almost on a whim—started up a landscaping company and built it into a successful business. “Landscaping is about colour and balance and fitting into somebody else’s ideas with your own aesthetic. And a lot of hard work.”

As her 30th birthday loomed ever closer on the horizon, Angus did some soul searching and decided it was time to revisit her first love, fashion. She signed up for a one-year program at the prestigious Helen Lefeaux School of Fashion Design. Angus credits her farming background with giving her the work ethic (not to mention the stamina) to juggle a demanding school program, a thriving landscaping business, and a new marriage.

As a newly minted fashion graduate, Angus caught the attention of a buyer for The Bay, Canada’s most venerated retail institution. She designed several collections for The Bay’s Canadian by Design department. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sketch for a spring design. (Photo: KK Law)

Sketch for a spring design. (Photo: KK Law)

Over the past 11 years, Angus has gone from toiling away on her designs in her basement, to a small office downtown, to a larger studio on Dunbar Street, to her current 280-sq-m (3,000-sq-ft) studio on 6th Avenue. She designs everything from t-shirts to fancy wedding dresses (just two or three each summer, for a few lucky brides), and an extraordinary amount of time and care go into each one: “We spend weeks on fitting a simple t-shirt—a t-shirt that looks as good on an extra-small as it does on a triple-extra-large.” Best known are her Spirit Wraps, the result of a creative collaboration with local First Nations artists such as Clarence Mills (Haida) and Corrine Hunt (Tlingit). Angus is also the fashion sponsor for the Leo Awards (BC’s version of the Academy Awards) here in Vancouver, and she loves dressing the trophy models and some of the actresses: “It gives me the opportunity to be over-the-top creative in any way that I want to be.” When actresses sometimes hesitate at the fancier gowns, “I always tell them it never hurts to be the best dressed lady at the party.” Recently, Angus had her first chance to design all of the costumes for a movie, a shot-in-Vancouver short comedy called I Wanna Date U.

Even as Chloë Angus Design grows and evolves, one thing that will never change is Angus’s commitment to staying in Vancouver. She finds design inspiration in the city’s natural beauty, and she loves the climate here compared to the rest of the country: “It might be raining really hard out today, but it’s not snowing,” she says. “I am a true Vancouverite. I own a nice collection of gumboots. I like umbrellas. I have a really fabulous raincoat coming out for fall 2015. I don’t like parkas. I think the rest of Canada is pretty much uninhabitable most of the year.”

The other place Angus finds inspiration? Beautiful fabrics. “Often I see a piece of fabric and it just talks to me. It says, ‘Make me into this.’ And I know right away what I will do with it.”

With any luck, Angus will continue finding inspiration for many decades to come.

Find Spirit Wraps at The Gallery Store and the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. To see an array of Angus’s creations, visit Chloë Angus Design.

A Must for Travellers

By SHERI RADFORD

The ultra-handy Moshi IonBank 10k

The ultra-handy Moshi IonBank 10k

If you rely on your electronics—whether for an important phone call or for entertaining a cranky kid—there’s nothing worse than watching the battery indicator drop to zero. Frequent travellers know to bring Moshi’s IonBank 10K on every trip. This handy device can charge a smartphone multiple times and give a tablet enough juice for an extra seven or eight hours. It can even charge two devices at a time. And it’s easy-peasy to recharge this mobile battery: simply plug it into any USB wall or car charger. Crisis averted. Available at Mac Station or www.moshi.com.

4 Cozy Corners

By TIM PAWSEY

Franco Felice, at Cafe Il Nido

Franco Felice, at Cafe Il Nido. (Photo: KK Law)

1. Cafe Il Nido Franco Felice’s long-running Italian resto is tucked into a courtyard within the heritage Manhattan building at Thurlow and Robson. Savour inventive Northern Italian plates such as balsamic-glazed wild sockeye salmon or penne with sautéed wild mushrooms and thyme cream sauce. Most pastas are also offered gluten-free. (more…)

Public Art in Vancouver

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Jonathan Borofsky's "Human Structures Vancouver"

Jonathan Borofsky’s “Human Structures Vancouver.” (Photo: KK Law)

The great outdoors just got a little greater. Thanks to the Vancouver Biennale, alfresco art installations are popping up around the city, transforming ordinary outdoor spaces into cool cultural attractions. A tour along the Granville Island and False Creek waterfront takes art aficionados past three recent works: Jonathan Borofsky’s interconnected “Human Structures Vancouver” (pictured above), Cosimo Cavallaro’s playful “Love Your Beans,” and Gustavo and Otávio Pandolfo’s massive “Giants” (pictured below)—perhaps the most buzzed-about addition.

"Giants" by OSGEMEOS. (Photo: KK Law)

“Giants” by OSGEMEOS. (Photo: KK Law)

Spanning six cylindrical cement silos, the larger-than-life graffiti mural may be the most ambitious project yet by the Brazilian twin brothers known as OSGEMEOS. At the very least, Vancouver has some colourful new residents.

East Meets West

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Beautiful Bambudda

Bambudda’s contemporary space. (Photo: KK Law)

A trendy Gastown gem, Bambudda boasts artfully conceived Cantonese cuisine in a smart space. Modern banana-leaf wallpaper and a hopping street-side bar perfectly match the contemporary Asian tapas. Former Top Chef Canada contender Curtis Luk serves up dishes such as pork belly with taro and salt-and-pepper Humboldt squid. Or, from Feb. 19 to 22, ring in the Year of the Sheep with a special dumplings menu. This traditional dish symbolizes togetherness and prosperity, making it a perfectly delicious way to celebrate Chinese New Year. Gung hay fat choy!

Vancouver’s Marine Cuisine

By TIM PAWSEY

Herring, an unsung hero found at Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar (Photo: KK Law)

Herring, an unsung hero found at Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar. (Photo: KK Law)

No surprise that seafood abounds in this ocean-bound town. Drop by bustling Sun Sui Wah for mid-day dim sum, or go later for the Alaskan king crab, squab, Peking duck or chilled seafood platter. For those wanting to try less familiar tastes, Yaletown’s Blue Water Cafe obliges with its annual Unsung Heroes menu, featuring the likes of barnacles, mackerel and herring, in addition to seasonal staples such as arctic char, ling cod and sablefish. Right downtown? Drop by Yew in the Four Seasons for a bowl of chef Ned Bell’s corn “chowda,” overflowing with smoked black cod and Okanagan apples. It was the big winner in the recent Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown.

For more from Tim Pawsey visit hiredbelly.com

Jackets to Warm Up Winter

By SHERI RADFORD

This heated jacket from DEWALT will keep you warm

Heated jackets from DEWALT keep ski bunnies warm

What’s better than a thick jacket to wear in ice-cold weather? A heated jacket from DEWALT. Hot new styles this season include a women’s jacket with a removable hood (pictured), a khaki jacket with a hood, and two styles of hoodies. Each one incorporates a battery to provide hours of heat, which means outdoor adventurers can stay toasty warm longer than ever before. Available at Canadian Tire and Amazon.

Inuit Imagery: Ningeokuluk Teevee

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Ningeokuluk Teevee's "A Lot of Bull"

Ningeokuluk Teevee’s “A Lot of Bull”

In Beyond the Surface: Drawings by Ningeokuluk Teevee (Feb. 14 to Mar. 6), the Cape Dorset artist creates vibrant coloured-pencil and graphite drawings that bring Inuit mythology and stories to life. See works such as “A Lot of Bull” (pictured) in the 25 drawings on display at Inuit Gallery.

Romantic Vancouver

With its backdrop of misty mountains and stunning shorelines, this city was made for sweethearts

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Enjoying the sunset at English Bay (Photo: KK Law)

Enjoying the sunset at English Bay. (Photo: KK Law)

9 Things to do for Sweethearts

1 Show off your triple Lutz while gliding around the outdoor rinks at Robson Square and Grouse Mountain.

2 Whip up a delectable meal in a couples cooking class at The Dirty Apron Cooking School.

3 Soak up a spectacular sunset at English Bay.

4 Tour Stanley Park and the seawall on a tandem bike from Spokes Bicycle Rentals.

5 Snuggle up on a sleigh ride through Grouse Mountain’s winter wonderland. Afterwards, warm up next to the fireplace with a steaming mug of hot cocoa.

6 Escape to Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, an enchanting oasis in the heart of Chinatown.

7 Snowshoe through Cypress Mountain’s snow-covered terrain, then warm up with cheese and chocolate fondue in historic Hollyburn Lodge.

8 Admire art, preferably hand in hand, at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

9 Share a canvas and hand-crafted cocktail at Raw Canvas while creating a masterpiece in the “painting pit.”

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Balanchine‘s Bold Ballet

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Beautiful and bold ballet by George Balanchine

Beautiful and bold ballet by George Balanchine

Graceful and groundbreaking, George Balanchine’s choreography revolutionized dance. Now, Miami City Ballet salutes the famed 20th-century choreographer in Balanchine, a sweeping triple bill that showcases his acclaimed career through Serenade, Symphony in Three Movements and Ballo della Regina. Known for his ability to express music through movement, he created ballets that feature works by celebrated composers such as Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Verdi. See this showcase of virtuosity at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Feb. 19 to 21.