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Jill Von Sprecken

Chocolate Chronicle

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Delicious Crunchetti clusters from Brockmann's Chocolates

Delicious Crunchetti clusters from Brockmann’s Chocolates

Once upon a time there was a chocolate-maker named Willy. Only in this particular story, his tempting confections were brought from Europe to Canada, where they were crafted with care for another 30 years. The third-generation chocolatiers now offer two locally made treats: the creamy Truffini truffles, which are available in 11 flavours, including Canadian maple; and the addictive Crunchetti clusters, with toasted almonds and cranberries. Indulge your sweet tooth with treats by Brockmann’s Chocolates at Urban Fare and Nesters.

On the Brink: PuSh Festival 2017

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Mess is showing at the PuSh Festival. (Photo: Edmund Collier)

Mess is showing at the PuSh Festival. (Photo: Edmund Collier)

Jan 16-Feb 5 Ready to bend your boundaries? Then head to the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Now in its 13th year, the annual fest celebrates groundbreaking theatre, dance, music and visual arts in over 27 works by artists from 11 countries. See works such as Mess, Sweat Baby Sweat or Macbeth: Third World Bunfight, a provocative piece that sets Verdi’s opera in the Congo, with machete-sharp results. It’s an evening spent on the edge—of your seat, that is.

Fine Lines

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

'Aquatic #2' by Pat O'Hara

‘Aquatic #2’ by Pat O’Hara

Jan 7-18 Some pull strings, others paint them. Contemporary artist Pat O’Hara uses energetic brushstrokes to apply strings of paint on canvas, finishing the super-saturated works with a glossy resin finish. The BC native, who now lives in Vancouver, often draws from her own environment and experiences to create her varied, layered pieces. She favours a bold, playful palette, using shades that evoke nature, from sunrise to seaside. See the artist’s abstract acrylic-on-canvas pieces in Linearity at Bau-Xi Gallery.

Of Love and Pasta

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Delicious dining at La Pentola. (Photo: Daniel Burke)

Delicious dining at La Pentola. (Photo: Daniel Burke)

Indulge in rustic Italian dishes just like Nonna used to make—even if it was someone else’s Nonna—at La Pentola. The menu of traditional dishes matches the classic space, making it the ideal place to live la dolce vita over perfectly executed plates of house-made pasta, creamy imported burrata and hearty mains like Fraser Valley lamb. Order à la carte, or for a slice of Italian hospitality, order à la famiglia and share five or seven courses with the ones you love. Perfezione.

Nice by Nature

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Absolut Face & Body Lotion

Absolut Face & Body Lotion

Save face—and hair and body—with United & Free’s natural products, which are packed with good-enough-to-eat ingredients. Founded by a Vancouver-based brother and sister duo, the beauty brand’s gender-neutral products appeal to both men and women. Take the Absolut Face & Body Lotion, for instance: hemp- and raspberry-seed oils leave skin hydrated, while a fragrant blend of citrus and cedar appeals to ladies and gents alike. What’s missing? Most notably, sulfates, parabens and harsh chemicals. Now that’s a beautiful thing. Stock up at Below the Belt.

Feast for the Eyes at Basalt Wine & Salumeria

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Just a small sample of what's on offer.

Just a small sample of what’s on offer at Basalt (Photo: Brad K).

Decked out with a commanding bar crafted from black volcanic rock—the eatery’s namesake—and an eye-catching hand-cranked meat slicer, Basalt is a buzzy addition to Whistler’s dining scene. But what really steals the show is on the plate: hand-sliced salumi and gourmet cheeses, served alongside hearty seasonal dishes like roasted sockeye salmon. The pièce de résistance? Perfect pairings found on the wine list

Making Spirits Bright in Vancouver

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Fireworks kick off the annual Lights of Hope display at St. Paul's Hospital. (Photo: Jill Von Sprecken)

Fireworks kick off the annual Lights of Hope display at St. Paul’s Hospital. (Photo: Jill Von Sprecken)

Around the city, festive light displays make Vancouver merry and bright. In downtown, the Lights of Hope dazzle with 100,000 twinkling bulbs, while the Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting brings a 15-m (50-ft) tree to Robson Square. Bright Nights in Stanley Park is a magical display of three million sparkling lights. Near Olympic Village, Enchant brings festive fun for the whole family with the world’s largest Christmas light maze. Farther flung but worth the trip, Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge raises hundreds of thousands of lights to spectacular new heights.

Boundary Bending Boxes for a Cause

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

"Full Moon Container" by Shawn Hunt. (Photo: Lattimer Gallery).

“Full Moon Container” by Shawn Hunt. (Photo: Lattimer Gallery).

Nov 19 to Dec 3, 2016

Some artists think outside the box—others paint it. Each year, Lattimer Gallery presents 20 BC-based First Nations artists with a blank cedar bentwood box, and receives a stunning showcase of creativity in return. The handcrafted artworks are then auctioned off, all in support of the Urban Native Youth Association. See boundary-bending pieces by the likes of Corrine Hunt, Sonny Assu, Gwaai Edenshaw and Shawn Hunt at the 2016 Annual Charity Bentwood Box Event, Nov. 19 to Dec. 3, 2016. Now that’s a cool cause.

Eastside Culture Crawl

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

“Alley Variations #5” by Richard Tetrault

“Alley Variations #5” by Richard Tetrault

For 20 years, art admirers have taken to the streets to ponder paintings, pottery, photography and more at the Eastside Culture Crawl (Nov. 17 to 20, 2016). The popular festival draws over 25,000 studio-hoppers as they tour the creative spaces of nearly 500 local artists. Download a map from the Crawl’s website and embark on a self-guided tour to 78 venues in edgy East Van. The souvenir-savvy snag one-of-a-kind pieces, such as relief prints by Richard Tetrault (“Alley Variations #5,” pictured).

Brothel #9: Catch the Award-winning Play at The Cultch

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Brothel #9 (Photo: Emily Cooper).

Brothel #9 (Photo: Emily Cooper)

Nov 17 to 27

In Brothel #9, an award-winning play by Anusree Roy, a young woman named Rekha travels from her tiny Indian village to the big city of Calcutta, to begin work in a light-bulb factory. However, she quickly discovers that her new job isn’t what she expected—she’s been sold into a brothel. Catch her haunting, hard-hitting journey at The Cultch.

Sweet Shop: Kiss and Makeup

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Clothing and accessories at Kiss and Makeup

Clothing and accessories at Kiss and Makeup

Fighting the urge to splurge? Make peace with your impulses at Kiss and Makeup. These one-stop-shops for beauty mavens brim with covetable accessories, apparel and beauty products, all curated and vetted by owner Heather Huntingford. The two seriously stylish boutiques stock international items, but we’re partial to the local lines, including tees and tanks by Good Husbands Apparel, sweet-smelling tapers by Vancouver Candle Co. and organic make-up by Ilia. Now that’s retail therapy.

Walker Evans at the Vancouver Art Gallery

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

VAG_WalkerEvans-06

“Roadside Sign Near Birmingham, Alabama” by Walker Evans

Oct 29 to Jan 22

From Depression-era farmers to New York subway riders, snaps by Walker Evans paint a portrait of America. Hailed as one of the 20th century’s great artists, Evans captured the world through his lens from the 1920s to the ’70s. See over 180 snapshots like “Roadside Sign Near Birmingham, Alabama” (pictured) in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Walker Evans: Depth of Field (Oct. 29 to Jan. 22).