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Jill Von Sprecken

Tasty Tome

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

The humble tin can goes gourmet with the help of this unique cookbook

The humble tin can goes gourmet with this unique cookbook

Keep can openers at the ready: Tin Fish Gourmet (Arsenal Pulp Press; $21.95) by Vancouverite Barbara-Jo McIntosh has been re-released to the delight of time-pressed chefs everywhere. Imaginative recipes transform humble tins of oysters, tuna, mackerel and more into mouth-watering dishes. Find classic staples and inventive offerings alike, ranging from tuna casserole to clam and fontina pizza. Gorgeous colour photos and a stamp of approval from three-star Michelin chef Michel Roux make this the perfect fishy find. At local bookstores, including the author’s own Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks.

Treasures From the Forbidden City

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

"Album of Twelve Months of Seasonal Activities." (Photo: © The Palace Museum)

“Album of Twelve Months of Seasonal Activities.” (Photo: © The Palace Museum)

Indulge your inner voyeur and cross the threshold into the Vancouver Art Gallery’s The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors (Oct. 18 to Jan. 11). The exhibition showcases nearly 200 awe-inspiring artefacts from Beijing’s Palace Museum, a historic site that mysteriously closed its gates to the world for 500 years. The array of rare treasures includes 80 that have never travelled beyond the palace walls, and ranges from paintings and ivory to ceramics and textiles. It’s a peek into the past that’s impossible to resist.

Vancouver Home + Design Show

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Cottage Life TV's Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan

Cottage Life TV’s Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan

Dorothy’s right: there’s no place like home. But arriving at the perfect living space isn’t as easy as clicking your ruby slippers. That’s where the Vancouver Home + Design Show (Oct. 16 to 19) comes in. Designers and DIYers find inspiration from over 325 exhibitors, with advice on home improvements, decor, entertaining and more. Discover pro tips from celebrity guests such as HGTV’s Bryan Baeumler and Cottage Life TV’s Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan (pictured). Time for dreams to become reality.

Fall Foliage at Art Beatus

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

“Birch Woods” by Jack Zhou

“Birch Woods” by Jack Zhou

With its clear blue skies and crisp hues, autumn already tops our list of stunning seasons. Add a little imagination and the influence of Gustav Klimt, and you have the vibrantly hued landscapes of Jack Zhou. His love of colour and light shines through in Impressionist-style paintings inspired by the birch forests of northern Ontario (“Birch Woods,” pictured). See Zhou’s colourful creations in Resplendence at Art Beatus, to Nov. 7.

Vancouver Roaster Celebrates 25 Years

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

This fall, the folks at Bean Around the World are raising a glass—better yet, a mug—to 25 years of top-notch coffee with West Coast roots

Bean Around the World roasts their beans daily. (Photo: KK Law)

Bean Around the World roasts their beans daily. (Photo: KK Law)

Some leave their heart in San Francisco, but founder Pete Boëda found his when he spotted his first coffee roaster while visiting the Golden City in 1978. Though it took over a decade, Boëda’s newfound love came to fruition when he opened a small cafe complete with in-house roaster—not a common sight at the time. Now, 22 independently owned cafes, each with their own unique style and flavour, bear the Bean Around the World name. (more…)

Fond Farewell: Douglas Udell Gallery

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

See works such as "Paintscape" by Dominique Gaucher in Hybris Nemesis, Oct. 4 to 17

See works such as “Paintscape” by Dominique Gaucher in Hybris Nemesis, Oct. 4 to 17

For the last 28 years, Douglas Udell Gallery has hosted contemporary Canadian artists on the celebrated South Granville strip. In October, the space bids adieu to our fair city—but not without a last hurrah. See Montreal-based Dominique Gaucher’s thought-provoking works in Hybris Nemesis, Oct. 4 to 17 (“Paintscape,” pictured). Or join art aficionados for final farewells Oct. 18 to 31 at Closing Show: Celebrating 28 Years in Vancouver. Hate saying goodbye? So do we.

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