SalivEight from VANEATS.ca

4 Mar

A delicious food adventure awaits you in Mt Pleasant just off of Main Street on 8th Avenue.  The crew at VANEATS.ca have teamed up with Eight 1/2 Restaurant and Lounge to bring us SalivEight.  Eight 1/2 is nestled on the ground floor a 2 story house that has a history all it’s own-from a brothel to housing a chocolate factory and shop in the space the restaurant now occupies then a coffee roaster-if these walls could talk oh the stories they would tell!  I made this visit with fellow featured reviewer and fellow contributor for EatinginVancouver.com Alvin Lee and we ordered up a couple different of menu items that are featured in the package.  The SalivEight dining package includes a beer flight for 2 that feature a couple great local micro breweries, a choice of apply from 3 options and choice of thin crust pizza, to be exact the menu breaks down exactly like this:

  1. Flight of Stanley Park Brewery Belgian Style Beer,
    • 2 “Ambers”, subtle toasted malt, lightly hopped, exceptionally clean finish
    • 2 “Bruns”, distinctive dried fruit aromatics, complex chocolate, roasted nut and malt biscuit
  2. Your Choice of Appie:,
    • “Tortilla Soup”, chicken, black beans, corn, avocado, tortilla crisps, mozzarella (gluten free)
    • “Baked Brie”, filo wrapped brie, local honey, sambal oelek, candied apple
    • “Dungeness Crab Cakes”, served with lemony yogurt and arugula
  3. You Choice of Thin Crust Pizza,
    • “8th Avenue”, hot calabrese, chorizo, banana peppers, and sautéed mushrooms
    • “Market Place”, roasted vegetables, goat cheese, torn basil, sundried tomato base
    • “Wild Smoked Salmon”, BC smoked salmon, creamy dill, capers, red onion, craisins

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The beverages for this package are are in the darker beer family but on our visit they were out of the darker of the 2 so we were given a Winter Ale, the amber selection was a honey scented brew that was quite enjoyable but my favorite was the Winter Ale for it’s smoothness.

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The first appetizer we wet with was the Dungeness Crab Cakes served with lemony yogurt and arugula salad.  These crab cakes were the 100% no filler kind, really light on the inside and crispy on the outside these were a pleasure to eat.  The lemon yoghurt sauce was tart with just the right amount of lemon, perfect with the crab cake.

The other appetizer we had was the Baked Brie-filo wrapped brie with local honey, sambal oelek, candied apple and local black berries.  I’m not sure where to begin with this,,,IT WAS AWESOME!  When I cut into this baby the cheese oozed out like a runny egg yolk-I quickly scooped it up with some bread and stuffed it in my pie hole.  The richness of the cheese with the sweet apple and tart sambal was a delicious combination, the filo added a nice crunch to the whole thing.  This is something that I would order to share, it’s rich and indigent and quite a bit for just one person to eat-event though I did eat most of it!

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The Market Place pizza was my choice and caught my eye as soon as I saw the menu.  This vegetarians dream is a combination of roasted vegetables like zucchini, peppers and mushrooms with the creamy goat cheese then topped with the torn fresh basil.  Flavor wise this pizza was rich with the cheese and the roasted veggies were really nice.

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The other pizza option we tried was the The 8th Avenue, a meat lovers dream.  The hot calabrese, chorizo, banana peppers, and sautéed mushrooms all work well together.  With the richness of the meat and cheese combined with the tart spicy punch from the pickled banana peppers this was a alright pizza.  Crust wise I had to eat this with a fork and knife, the pizza could have used a few more minutes in the oven to crisp up the crust.

Dining passes are on sale from February 6, 2013 to May 4, 2013 and cost a mere $15, I’d totally recommend sharing one pass between 2 people and maybe trying something else from the menu for a great meal for 2-I hear the Steak Bites are the house specialty.  You can get you SalivEight dining pass in the Flavor Town Deals section on the right side of my blog.

**Disclosure-My dining package was courtesy of VANEATS.ca but my opinions and experience are completely my own**

eight 1/2 Restaurant Lounge on Urbanspoon

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BLOG IS A DIRTY WORD

1 Mar

Photo by Ashley Rowe

When I read Suzy Menkes’ “The Circus of Fashion” last week in T Magazine, my initial response was mild outrage. Mild because there was a deluge of factual evidence that I couldn’t argue–fashion week is becoming a circus and street-style elicited outfits may have something to do with that. Outrage, however, because reducing an entire generation of sprouting professionals (the bloggers) to the perpetual black (well, actually neon) sheep of fashion just doesn’t seem very open minded.

On the one hand, Menkes is right. Fashion is changing and it is doing so quickly. The indusry no longer belongs to the upper echelon dwellers exclusively and has made room for the amateur groupies to carve their own gold stud-laden paths. Sometimes these paths lead to interesting, innovative movements but sometimes too, they don’t.

On the other hand, Menkes is right again. Fashion week has become something of a circus. With a myriad of photographers moonlighting as paparazzi, waiting ambitiously to catch the familiar faces of the plethora of websites that have allegedly made them famous, it seems street style stars are our generation’s newest contribution to the phenomenon of reality star culture. The photos are inspiring, the clothes are magnificent and the conversation street style has incited is vital for the fashion dialogue–but this is only when authenticity bleeds through. In the current climate, I can understand why it might seem like “getting the shot” is less about the credibility factor and more about how far along the spectrum of crazy a subject can sway. But then again, style is also a function of personality. If the girl has got the proverbial balls to strap live vertebrae to her head and loves how she looks, well, good for her.

Where my opinion differs from Menkes’ rests in her perception of bloggers, both of the personal and street style variety. She writes that “the celebrity circus of people who are famous just for being famous” are most prevalently known for their blogs. It doesn’t seem quite fair to peg the bloggers that have actually become “famous” as such just for being famous. When I think Tavi Gevinson or Susie Bubble or Emily Weiss or on the street spectrum, Tommy Ton, I think recognition based on the merit of astounding work.

Lincoln Center and The Tuilerie Gardens are also mentioned–in the context, as infested zones depriving whatever might be left of the true spirit of fashion week. Most of the supremely sought after shows and hot tickets in town don’t really take place at the allotted Fashion Week Zones, though. And the denizens of those off-site shows are presumably there with a seat assignment for good reason, aren’t they? Lincoln Center has become something of a haven for aspiring bloggers who spend their fashion weeks ardently hustling (which is too, notable and worthy of respect) through the fountains in the name of recognition. But like all writers do not write with the same pen (how would Hemingway have felt if he were shepherded into a group among the likes of, say, E.L. James?), all bloggers do not type with the same keyboard.

And even if we did, it’s impossible to deny that the world is changing. Traditional fashion jobs are far and few. Maybe Menkes just doesn’t get it, which is fine. She doesn’t have to. But the hunger and supply for editorship hasn’t dwindled in spite of more unfortunate circumstances for the demand. There is a reason, after all, that Gen. Y–which is only becoming more important as we get older and begin pushing and stimulating our economy–has been dubbed the entrepreneurial generation. Many of us couldn’t land the jobs we wanted, so we just made our own. Sure, the training isn’t traditional but my generation is brilliant; we are over-educated and often over-qualified for the jobs that we do take. Tradition and innovation have little to do with one another and in the battle of success and relevance between the former and latter, the latter has proven itself quite victorious.

Maybe too, we should gear the flack more closely toward our environment. The consequences of living in 2013 are vastly different than they were in the 80s or 90s and even early aughts because of the hyper-speed at which we consume information. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and now Vine (which has made watching runway shows from the comfort of wherever 4G functions through the vantage point of showgoers possible) are not going to disappear. They’re just going to grow, and advance, and continue obstructing the boundaries of privacy until the residual backlash starts and we’re forced to recoil, hungry for the same brand of nostalgia that Menkes recalls.

And I really do understand where she is coming from. She is the rare fashion partisan who has subsisted long enough to observe and shrewdly, unapologetically comment on the evolution of fashion week and that which occurs outside the velvet ropes. Noting the previous formula as one that worked, how could she possibly accept the democratization of something so historically exclusive with overwhelming positivity? This is my generation, my vocation, my moment that she is reprimanding, and I, too, have a sincere problem with the notion that front row squatting may be based less on excellence in trade and more on social following density.

But what upset me most about the piece wasn’t even really her fault–it is the cynicism and skepticism that has made a home for itself in the field of blogging.

Last week, because of a comment on my favorite beauty product (which I have been purchasing–not being gifted–every two months for the last three years,) and the response to it, (“we get it, you’re sponsored by X,”), I found myself wondering if we, the bloggers, have entered an era where we can’t like anything without having our motives questioned.

Yes, I concluded. Unfortunately we have.

It has always been the subjectivity of fashion blogging that resonates so well. The raw portrayal of an unedited opinion will likely always command ample attention but there are only really a handful of bloggers who have been able to canon true influence and respect. It is at the point where readers can smell the sponsorship that integrity gets lost. And in this day and age, it seems that sprouting blogs are founded on principles of self-aggrandizement.

I think that the forebears of blogging are to blame.

It’s a standard that we set. In a profession so new, where the thick is run by fresh indwellers trying to figure it out themselves, it is only the trial and error formula that can set real rules. We never should have accepted gifts in the first place. We shouldn’t have bragged about the free trips, and cool events and recognition from our industry heroes. We’ve painted a picture portraying the circumstances of blogging that is inaccurate.

But like in everything else, Darwinism will always prevail. The strong will continue to survive and the weak will eventually begin to weed off. The question is, what will make us strong? It seems like the blogging landscape must tackle some serious change. We as a collective elicit the mockery (no matter how arguable it might be) that we garner and the puddle of cynicism and skepticism that has manifested around us exists only reactively.

I thought it was important to speak to the points made in The Circus of Fashion because it isn’t evenhanded to abate our influence, but in spite of that, this question should be canvassed: how can we really assume that we will cull the respect we think we deserve if we don’t even respect our own brands?

No One Is More Excited For Google Glass Than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

1 Mar

There is perhaps no one more excited for Google Glass than Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg.

On Wednesday at the University of California, San Francisco’s Mission Bay medical campus, the Facebook CEO met up with Googlecofounder and special projects headSergey Brin. While the pair crossed paths because of their shared backing of the newly announcedBreakthrough Prize For Life Sciences, their meeting in the back corner of an auditorium in UCSF’s Genentech Hall proved to be an informal business discussion about Google’s highly anticipated augmented reality spectacles.

In Photos: Google Glass

After finishing interviews with broadcast media regarding their new life sciences awards, Zuckerberg strode over to Brin, who deferred speaking duties at the event to his wife, Anne Wojcicki, to check out what’s become a trademark accessory for the Google head honcho. Google, which launched its campaign to get Glass onto the heads of a handful of early “explorers” on Wednesday, apparently had not shared them with one of Silicon Valley’s richest individuals.

“I can’t wait to get my own,” said Zuckerberg of Glass, while Brin tried to adjust his own pair on the Facebook CEO’s head.

In the past, Zuckerberg has been wary of commending Google, which some see as a natural rival to Facebook in the battle for corporate Silicon Valley hegemony. Late last month during Facebook’s fourth quarter earnings call, Zuckerberg noted of his company’s connection to Google: “Even though our relationship isn’t one where the companies really talk, we are able to do a bunch of things and build some great experiences.”

On Wednesday, “the companies” talked. And they talked about developing for Google Glass.

While it was undoubtedly informal, the meeting of the minds from two of Silicon Valley’s most powerful corporations showed that Facebook was ready to develop for Glass. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook has a team of three engineers, led by a former Google employee, waiting for the product to be shipped to them so they can start building applications.

Zuckerberg also reversed his earlier position that Silicon Valley’s companies do not communicate or work closely with one another. When asked about his collaboration with members from Google andApple on his current life sciences prizes in a live CNN interview, Zuckerberg backtracked.

“I think these companies work together a little more than people think,” he said.

Trying on the augmented reality glasses for one of the first times, Zuckerberg attempted voice commands and repeated “O.K. Glass,” one of the command prompts on Brin’s glasses, a few times. Then he peppered the Google cofounder with several questions, while Brin scrolled for him through different screens with his left hand to Zuckerberg’s temple.

“How do you look out from this without looking awkward?” asked the black hoodie-wearing Facebook CEO. “You know, how are you supposed to use these this without breaking eye contact?”

That was shortly followed by: “Can you get indoor directions?”

Brin, sporting a black beard and white Lululemon long sleeve, thoughtfully considered the inquiry, before answering with a polite, “No, there’s no way to specify destination indoors.”

While Zuckerberg excitedly tried on the device, he made sure that few photos were snapped. Despite being the CEO of a social network of more than a billion individuals who share pictures and status updates every second, he asked that the handful of observers only take private photos of him and Brin.

“Wait , this isn’t supposed to be a thing,” he laughed nervously.

Indeed, it’s not a thing. Only a handful of people outside of the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant have tried on the product. Just earlier that day, Google put out instructions on its company website on how members of the public could apply to be one of the first product testers. To enter, contestants need to post a 50-word essay to Google+ or tweet a 140-character statement to Twitter due by Feb. 27. Compelling entries will be selected by Google, then required to pay $1,500 plus tax and travel expenses to attend a special event in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles.

Though that may be a steep price, that didn’t discourage thousands from applying with the official “#ifIhadGlass” tag on Twitter, with the novelty of the product alone enough to encourage technophiles everywhere to be the first adapters. Very rarely does a new device outside the traditional technology paradigm appear in Silicon Valley, and Google Glass represents one such archetypal shift. Projecting a small rectangle in front of the top-right area of the user’s right eye, the featherweight spectacles can show anything from traffic maps–at that time it would have taken Brin 41 minutes to get home in light traffic–to appointments and personal notes. Brin’s Glass was full of photos and videos of his wife and the other speakers from the earlier Breakthrough Prize press conference.

From a Facebook perspective, those videos and photos on Brin’s device are likely the perfect type of content to share on their network. And with a working Facebook integration, it would presumably take the flick of a finger or the quick shift of an eye to share those memories from the spectacles to a social network, whether it be Facebook or rival Google+. Zuckerberg, though, said he had no immediate vision of an application in mind but said to Brin: “Is there anything specific you want us to be trying? If so, I want to be doing that.”

Zuckerberg’s questioning continued through out the 10-minute interaction, later asking if it was possible to send data from Glass without going through Google’s servers. Brin said  that was currently not possible.

The Facebook CEO was undeterred, constantly reminding Brin of how excited he was to get his own pair. Unlike the handful of early adopters, however, Zuckerberg will not have to submit any application or pay any fee. Brin said he was excited see what the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social networking company had to offer.

“I’m not a social media expert,” he admitted to Zuckerberg.

“I’m not a Glass expert,” the Facebook cofounder replied, smiling.

Additional reporting by Tomio Geron in San Francisco.

Follow me on Twitter at @RMac18.

Non-believers taking college campuses by storm

1 Mar

In the past few years, the number of affiliated student secular organizations has increased more than threefold.

This article originally appeared on Religion Dispatches.

This month at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a select group of students will show their humanitarian spirit by participating in the Bleedin’ Heathens Blood Drive. On February 12, they will eat cake to celebrate Darwin Day, and earlier this year, they performed “de-baptism” ceremonies to celebrate Blasphemy Day, attended a War on Christmas Party, and set up Hug An Atheist and Ask An Atheist booths in the campus quad.
Religion Dispatches

These activities and more are organized by the Illini Secular Student Alliance (ISSA), one of 394 student groups that are affiliated with the national Secular Student Alliance (SSA). “We brand ourselves as a safe place and community for students who are not religious,” says Derek Miller, a junior at Illini and president of the ISSA.

Secular groups on college campuses are proliferating. The Ohio-based Secular Student Alliance, which a USA Today writer once called a “Godless Campus Crusade for Christ,” incorporated as a nonprofit in 2001. By 2007, 80 campus groups had affiliated with them, 100 by 2008, 174 by 2009, and today there are 394 SSA student groups on campuses across the country. “We have been seeing rapid growth in the past couple of years, and it shows no sign of slowing down,” says Jesse Galef, communications director at SSA. “It used to be that we would go to campuses and encourage students to pass out flyers. Now, the students are coming to us almost faster than we can keep up with.”

The Secular Student Alliance provides its affiliate groups with support and materials, including banners, pins, and informational materials with titles like What Is An Atheist?, a brochure with cheerful graphics and information about the identities of secularists, including “non-theist,” “freethinker,” and “humanist.”

Oddly enough, in the geography of on-campus student groups, atheist organizations fit within the category of faith-based groups like the Campus Crusade For Christ, which recently (and controversially) changed its name to Cru. At Stanford University, the Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics (AHA!) register with the Office For Religious Life, just like Cru, and are a member of Stanford Associated Religions.

“There are a lot of parallels with religious groups on campus,” says Ron Sanders, Cru’s missional team leader at Stanford.

“They have weekly meetings similar to ours, and give one another support, and they do social justice projects on campus and in the communities… I don’t know that they aren’t a faith group. They don’t have a faith in God, or in revelation or something like that, but they have faith in reason and in science, as I understand it, as a guide for human flourishing.”

“I don’t think it’s unfair to say that groups like Cru are our cultural opponents,” says Galef at SSA. “It comes down to which values we’re promoting. We are promoting values of critical thinking and acceptance.”

Conflicting values on campus have led to unsavory events. Last year at Salisbury University in Maryland, the Atheist Society took offense when Cru students chalked a verse from the Bible: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is not one who does good.” This led to a chalking counter-offensive, which escalated but ended peacefully. In 2010, secular student groups at the University of Illinois and other Midwestern schools drew controversy when they chalked images of Muhammad. After the fallout, this event led to interfaith conversations, followed by friendship and cooperation with the Muslim Student Association. They have since hosted events together and convened for pizza and board games.

“We really encourage interfaith activities,” says Sarah Kaiser, field organizer at the Center For Inquiry, an international organization that promotes “science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.” As a student, Kaiser was member of the Secular Alliance at the University of Indiana. Her group raised money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through a “Send An Atheist To Church” tabling event. The atheists put out cups for each of the campus’ religious groups, and whichever cup raised the most money determined which church the atheists would attend as an interfaith educational activity.

The Muslim Student Union’s cup received the most donations, so the atheists attended mosque.

The Unstoppable Secular Students

The Secular Student Alliance is essentially a support network for the autonomous atheist, agnostic, and humanist student groups that choose to be its affiliates. The rapid growth of the SSA is analogue to the general growth of the American secular movement. Atheist groups were once fringe organizations that didn’t get along. That began to change around 2007, on the heels of bestselling books from atheist authors like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Suddenly, the movement had leaders, a sense of direction and a common purpose. Today, the Secular Coalition For America is an umbrella lobbyist group for a number of once-competing groups, including American Atheists, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the American Humanist Association.

These “adult” organizations support the growth of campus groups. American Atheists offers scholarships to student activists, noting that “special attention is given to those students who show activism specifically in their schools.” The American Humanist Association provides support to campus groups, as does the Richard Dawkins Foundation and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Increasingly, students who are active in SSA groups continue with the movement after college. “The dynamic of being in a [secular] college student group translates so well into national advocacy and lobbying,” says Kelly Damerow, research and advocacy manager at the Secular Coalition For America.

The Center For Inquiry, like the Secular Student Alliance, has college campus group affiliates. “Groups can co-affiliate, and most affiliate with both of us,” says Kaiser. Cody Hashman, also a field organizer at the Center For Inquiry, says many campus activities focus on activism training. “We give them advice on how to implement activism campaigns, resources on service projects, and help with putting on book tours for non-religious authors,” Hashman says. “Every summer we have a leadership conference where we train students on how to organize their group, manage volunteers, how to talk to the media, how to send a press release, how to make posters.”

National organizations, particularly the Secular Coalition For America, are primarily concerned with lobbying in Washington over First Amendment church/state and freedom of religion (and of non-religion) issues. But the anti-religious (or “antitheist”) thread within the secular movement is difficult to ignore and implicit in the names of some of the organizations, such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Foundation Beyond Belief, and, of course, the Pastafarians, an atheist group worshipping under the parody Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Skeptics and Atheists Network at East Tennessee State University rather pointedly calls itself S.A.N.E.

“We do a lot of interfaith activities if they align with our humanist values, but the one thing we never compromise on is our right and responsibility to criticize bad ideas,” says Miller at ISSA. “When you assume a supernatural world, that is a train of thought that does not have a basis. When you start from that, you will automatically lead yourself to a bad idea.”

A recent SSA presentation entitled “The Unstoppable Secular Students” compared SSA to Cru. Cru takes in $500 million a year, while SSA takes in $998,000; Cru has three paid staff members per 1 campus group, while SSA has 78 campus groups per 1 adult organizer. And yet Cru is growing at a rate of 16 per cent while SSA is growing at a rate of 116 per cent. The presentation concludes:

“Cru has a massively larger budget, the majority of the U.S. population to draw from (76% Christian), an organized political voting bloc to give them politicians and laws and supreme court justices in their favor. But they are losing in the cultural war. The secular students are winning, and they are unstoppable!”

This hawkish stance is understandable in light of Cru’s rather unilateral mission statement: “Win, build, and send Christ-centered multiplying disciples who launch spiritual movements.” No doubt many student secular groups hope to find those freshman questioning their faith and prevent them from becoming multiplying disciples. “As the secular students clear up misconceptions about what it means to be secular, I feel that more students will leave their faith,” says Galef.

Most campus groups are more concerned with strengthening the community, visibility, and tolerance of secularists than engaging in the cultural war. Hashman at the Center For Inquiry says that some students come from homes and communities where they have to hide their secular identity, and secular student groups become an important community for them. “It has now become more acceptable for people to state that they are questioning or no longer religious” says Hashman. “We are dedicated to free inquiry and freedom of expression, and that can come off as abrasive, but we believe it necessary for a free and democratic society.”