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Jill Von Sprecken

50 Things We Love About Vancouver’s Granville Island

By JILL VON SPRECKEN and SHERI RADFORD

Want to explore False Creek on your way to Granville Island? Take the Aquabus mini ferry. (Photo by Dominic Schaefer)

Want to explore False Creek on your way to Granville Island? Take the Aquabus mini ferry. (Photo by Dominic Schaefer)

1. Commuting via Aquabus or False Creek Ferries.

2. SeaVillage, a charming collection of floating homes.

3. Browsing for fresh produce, bread and seafood in the Granville Island Public Market.

4. Spotting orcas with Wild Whales Vancouver.

5. Ocean Concrete, the oldest and largest tenant on the island. It’s been there since 1917.

6. Edible Canada at the Market, with its fresh regional fare on the menu, plus foodie tours and a gourmet artisan retail shop.

7. Watching buskers perform: musicians, jugglers, magicians and more.

8. Hand-pressed, hand-bottled sake from Artisan SakeMaker.

9. Splashing around in the Granville Island Waterpark.

10. Watching artisans hard at work in their studios.

(more…)

Spirit Wrestler’s Cool Carvings

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

"Once a Warrior" by by Rex Homan. (Photo: Kenji Nagai/Spirit Wrestler Gallery)

“Once a Warrior” by Rex Homan. (Photo: Kenji Nagai/Spirit Wrestler Gallery)

September 20 to October 11

Fifteen years and three acclaimed artists add up to one remarkable exhibition. Spirit Wrestler’s Wero: Pacific Challenge celebrates the gallery’s quindecennial as a leading venue of Maori art. The exhibit highlights wood and jade carvings by three renowned sculptors, including “Once A Warrior” (pictured) by Rex Homan. Like the Northwest Coast First Nations, aboriginals of New Zealand share a proficiency for carving, often using the works to share legends and cultural history. Fantastically detailed and always stunning, these pieces from across the Pacific are certain to inspire. Here’s to the next 15 years.

Beachy Brunch at Calabash Bistro

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

French toast with a tropical twist, at Calabash Bistro

French toast with a tropical twist, at Calabash Bistro

Islands-inspired French toast, pastries and eggs—all served with a side of Bob Marley and a Dark & Stormy. That’s what you’ll find at Calabash Bistro’s weekend brunch. Tropical temptations range from brunch bowls complete with coconut rundown hollandaise—a custard-like coconut reduction—and fried plantains, to French toast (pictured) served with delectable banana cream and spiced mango syrup on fresh-baked Guyanese coconut bread. Plus, beachy bevvies such as sorrel rum punch may take brunch into lunch and beyond. Paradise, found.

Pure Buttery, Baked Goodness

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Delicious baked delights from Purebread

Delicious baked delights from Purebread

Here’s a bakery that takes the cake. Buttery croissants, melt-in-your-mouth pastries, tempting cookies and cakes, and freshly baked breads such as sour cherry chocolate and seriously seedy are the reward for braving the line-ups at Purebread. This cute shop also serves Portland’s celebrated Stumptown coffee, the perfect cure for caffeine cravings. Have your cake and eat it, too? We say just dig in.

Why We Love Farmers’ Markets

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

There is a lot to love at Vancouver's farmers' markets

There is a lot to love at Vancouver’s farmers’ markets

Local Eating Though most meals travel 2,400 km (1,491 mi) from producer to plate, market produce usually travels less than 300 km (186 mi), which is great for the planet—and tastes better, too.

Fresh Produce In-season fruits and veggies make for picnic perfection, and September boasts a bounty of local fare:
Apples
Carrots
Grapes
Lettuce
Melons
Pears
Plums
Peppers
Strawberries
Tomatoes
Watermelon
Zucchini

Sweet Services Need a massage? Or fresh-cut flowers? How about knife sharpening? Many booths go far beyond fresh fruits and veggies.

Spirited Sips Find craft beer at R&B, or spirits produced from local ingredients at Odd Society and Long Table Distillery. Or for something truly unique, try the fortified walnut wine at Vista D’oro.

Cool Crafts A local handicraft makes a great souvenir. Chat with artisans over jewellery, pottery, beeswax products (delectable local honey included), chocolates, artworks, aromatherapy, woodwork and more.

Local markets are open rain or shine, and dogs are welcome

Christine Lingerie’s Sizzling Silk

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Christine Lingerie’s luxurious designs evoke that on-holiday feeling—without the travel time

Christine Morton wears one of her own creations while at work in her design studio. (Photo: KK Law)

Christine Morton wears one of her own creations while at work in her design studio. (Photo: KK Law)

From the silky pyjamas that graced the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine to the luxe gown worn by Sofia Vergara on Modern Family, pretty little numbers by Christine Lingerie have been spotted all over Hollywood. And it’s easy to see why. “I like to think that women feel like celebrities in my things,” says Christine Morton, founder and designer of the popular line.

The stunning pieces may have their Tinseltown following, but the company remains firmly rooted in Vancouver. “I can rest here and work it into who I am, what the collection is. Vancouver to me is a very peaceful place. It’s a beautiful city.” Located in East Van, Morton’s boutique/studio has a charming storefront, but the space beyond is where the hard work happens. All the designs and manufacturing are done in Canada, which contributes to the impeccable quality. “I know the name of the person who made that chemise,” she says. “It’s a whole different thing than having a factory somewhere else.”

Original prints and imported fabrics such as French lace adorn the pieces, and it’s these elements that often inspire the garments. “It kind of tells you what it wants to be,” she explains. The designs blend classic and vintage-inspired cuts and styles with a vibrant colour palette, which lends a contemporary feel. More recently, street-worthy loungewear and kimonos have vied for room in the collection. “You put that on with your jeans and t-shirt, and it looks fabulous. It’s a whole look.”

(Photo: KK Law)

(Photo: KK Law)

Other signature pieces include the elegant-yet-flirty Button Back chemise and the Glamour Gown: “It looks like something out of the ’40s. It’s very dramatic.” From classic pyjamas to racy teddies, every piece has one thing in common Morton says: once it’s on, the wearer won’t want to take it off. “It’s so beautiful to feel, the silk against your body.”

Christine Lingerie has been around for 40 years, but Morton says that “we think our place here is like a little secret, and we love it when people come in and find us.” But with celebrities and starlets routinely sporting her luxury loungewear, it’s safe to say the secret’s out.

Find Christine Lingerie at La Jolie Madame, Dianes Lingerie, Holt Renfrew and Romantique. Or visit Christine Lingerie’s Boutique and Design Studio, or order online at www.christinelingerie.com

Tour de Vancouver

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Cycle City Tour guide shows participants Coal Harbour

Guide from Cycle City Tours shows participants Coal Harbour

Pedal pushers, take note: a bicycle is the perfect way to see Vancouver. Put up your kickstand and push off with Cycle City Tours. There are plenty of excursions to choose from, including The Grand Tour, which gets cameras clicking with city highlights that range from Stanley Park to Chinatown—and everything in in-between. Beer aficionados can take The Brewery Tour for a sampling of the city’s hopping craft beer scene. What are you waiting for? Ride on!

Gone Fishin’

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Sure, there’s plenty of fish in the sea. And luckily for eager anglers, the Pacific Ocean just happens to be Vancouver’s backyard

There'll be no stories about the one that got away: Jason Tonelli of Pacific Angler with a fish on his hook. (Photo: KK Law)

There’ll be no stories about the one that got away: Jason Tonelli of Pacific Angler with a fish on his hook. (Photo: KK Law)

Hook, Line & Sinker

Top-notch spots to catch coho, chinook and sockeye salmon—not to mention delectable Dungeness crabs—are just minutes from the city’s bustling downtown core. Jason Tonelli of Pacific Angler, who’s reeled in catches from as far away as Argentina and Chile, says that Vancouver’s proximity to great fishing sets it apart. “Nowhere else in the world can you fish this close to a metro area,” he says, gesturing to the skyline behind the boat.

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Take it Outside: Dining Alfresco

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Guests prepare to dine outdoors at the Araxi Longtable Series. (Photo: Toshi Kawano)

Guests prepare to dine outdoors at the Araxi Longtable Series. (Photo: Toshi Kawano)

August 4

Our fave summer activity? Wining and dining alfresco. Luckily, Whistler’s much-celebrated Araxi is bringing their Longtable Series to Vancouver for the first time. Set in picturesque Vanier Park, the hyper-local, four-course meal for 300 guests features appearances by chefs from CinCin, West and more.

Day at the Races: Deighton Cup

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Spectators donning floppy hats look on as horse races take place.

Spectators donning floppy hats look on as horse races take place.

Fancy frocks, dapper duds and mint juleps can mean only one thing: we’re off to the races. The Kentucky Derby–style Deighton Cup (Jul. 26) promises a day of high-stakes horse racing, fashion and cocktails. Dandies kick it off with The Big Smoke, for cigars, scotch and whisky tastings, while tipplers join the revelry at The Julep for the Mint Julep Craft Cocktail Competition. The rest don cufflinks and fascinators for a chance to win “Best Dressed,” take in the luxury car collection, and enjoy the action on the racecourse. Champing at the bit? We are, too.

Life’s a Beach

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Which way to the beach? With Vancouver’s wrap-around shoreline, a stretch of sand can be found in any direction

On a warm day, Kitsilano Beach is filled with sunbathers and people enjoying the waves. (Photo: Dannielle Hayes/Destination BC)

On a warm day, Kitsilano Beach is filled with sunbathers and people enjoying the waves.                                    (Photo: Dannielle Hayes/Destination BC)

English Bay

This palm tree–lined sunbathing spot is popular with the downtown crowd, and for good reason: lively eateries vie for views along Beach Avenue and bustling Denman Street, and the seawall leads a constant stream of amblers, joggers and cyclists into nearby Stanley Park. Join the crowds for photo ops with public art, or just enjoy the views. (more…)

Sounds of Summer: Vancouver Folk Music Festival

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Crowds gather at Jericho Beach for the annual music fest. (Photo: Dannielle Hayes/Tourism Vancouver)

Crowds gather at Jericho Beach for the annual music fest. (Photo: Dannielle Hayes/Tourism Vancouver)

July 18 to 20

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival may take place at Jericho Beach Park, but this is no ordinary day at the beach. Back for its 37th year, the much-loved fest brings a toe-tapping line-up of music to a seaside setting. Over 60 artists from 12 countries share their eclectic sounds, ranging from the folk songs of Joan Baez to the Afrobeats of Nigerian Seun Kuti and Egypt 80. It’s not only music, either: shop the artisans’ market, sample food-vendor fare, and keep wee ones occupied in the Little Folks area. It’s fun in the sun, guaranteed.