The chef from Guu Izakaya and teacher at TKC Japanese Gourmet Kitchen was giving cooking lessons during the Sukura Days Japan Fair at VanDusen Garden.

Always up for a chance to learn how to cook, I sat down for the class. It was actually an hour long and we learned how to make 3 types of Japanese-style soup without powder soup stock. Quick and easy! Here is what I learned.

First we learned what the elements of tastes were and the most important element that gives you a very tasty soup - Umami.

Mix is 2 or more types of umami together

Umami means very tasty, delicious and consists of 3 types:
  1. Glutamate
    - vegetables, kombu, tomatoes, onions, chinese cabbage, cheese, etc
  2. Inosinate
    - meat and fish
  3. Guanylate
    - mushrooms
Mixing 2 or more of the three types of umami increases the deliciousness 10 times more!

Don't Forget the Salt

The key to a good soup is SALT. 1% salt level in soup is the best percentage. But the ingredients also add salt to the soup and evaporation increases the percentage so aim for 0.5 to 0.6% - that's about 2 -3 teaspoons in 5 cups of water (2L).

Chef showed us how to make a Vegatable soup, Chicken and Anchovies Soup and Japanese DASHI soup. One common ingredient in them all is kelp (KOMBU).


I went home armed with my newfound knowledge, I attempted to recreate one of the recipes. Except I didn't bring my ingredient list and missed some others. So I ended up mixing things - chicken bones, chinese cabbage, enoki mushrooms, king oyster mushroom, carrots, onions, ginger, garlic, rice, salt and sugar - it actually turned out pretty well! Success!


It was a fun cooking class and I enjoyed learning about Japanese style cooking. The rest of the Sukura Days Japan Fair was fun too. There were food stalls, performances, workshops and more!

There were still a couple of flowering cherry trees despite many of them flowering a couple of weeks early this year due to warm weather. They were beautiful!





Traveling usually means turning off mobile data on my phone so I won't be charged an arm and a leg for roaming fees by my phone company. That need not happen anymore - I have found a solution to keeping me connected while in the US: Roam Mobility, a prepaid wireless service for Canadians traveling to the states.

There are 3 daily plans for USA roaming starting at only $1.95 per day:
  • Text+Data CA$1.95 per day
  • Talk+Text CA$2.95 per day
  • Talk+Text+Data CA$3.95 per day

I flew to Los Angeles in the first week of April and signed up for the Talk+Text+Data plan for 8 days, which included unlimited calls to Canada and the US. The great thing about Roam Mobility is that you get all your data up front. You get 400MB of data for each day purchased, so 3.2 GB was plenty for an 8 day trip!

To use Roam Mobility, you will need:
  1. Unlocked mobile phone, and
  2. Roam Mobility SIM card, which can be bought online or at many local retailers such as London Drugs, Superstore, 7 Eleven and Staples. It costs $9.95 and looks like this: 

I like how the SIM comes with an "adaptor", which allows you to use it in all type of phones!
It is very easy to set up the SIM to work with your current phone.  You just need to activate your SIM card online, which then generates a US phone number for your use. What was weird was a stranger’s name showed up in caller ID. The number must have been in use previously. This certainly confused my relatives when I called them! But this was a minor hiccup.

Prior to traveling, select the plan you want and the number of days you need service for, including the start date. When you are in the US, pop in the SIM and you will automatically be connected directly to Roam Mobility's US network thereby eliminating any roaming fees! Hurray!

When I was in Los Angeles, I was relying solely on mobile data as the Wi-Fi on my mobile device was not working at all. Roam Mobility made it easy to check email, make updates on my social media accounts and access apps like Uber and Google maps. If it weren't for Roam Mobility, I wouldn't have been able to call for an Uber and would have been stranded at Disneyland...not that being stranded at Disneyland would be so bad! I’m very dependent on data day to day, especially when traveling out of the country. How else was I supposed to find how to walk from the hotel to the nearest attraction? Roam Mobility's coverage was excellent. I was even able to get a signal when I went to Paso Robles for a wedding, farther out in California.

Roam Mobility was very easy to use and such a convenience since you can do everything yourself, without having to add upgrades to your existing phone plan. Phones are also available to buy for $49.95 if you don’t have an unlocked phone.

Are you traveling to the US soon? Want a chance to win a Roam Mobility Breeze USA Travel Phone with a SIM card and 7 days of unlimited USA talk and text? Roam Mobility is giving a prize bundle to one lucky winner each week until May 15, 2015 - so there are four Breeze Phone prize packs up for grabs. Enter for your chance to WIN now!

Roam Mobility Breeze Phone & 7 Days of Unlimited USA Roaming Giveaway


Disclosure: Roam Mobility covered the cost of the talk+text+data plan for the 8 days I was in the US. I bought SIM card myself. No other compensation was received. The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own and have not been influenced in any other way.

Kitchen on Main St. claim that they have the best balls on Main - meat balls! The restaurant is a new addition to the Main St. neighbourhood, replacing Tapas 23. I received a flyer advertising the opening of this place and I passed by it when trying to find it because their sign is so small. It was opening week and they had a different promo every day. I decided to check them out when their meatball skillets were 50% off.


Chicken ball with pesto and parmesan
 It is a four ball skillet cooked in sauce includes your choice of side. Usually one of these is $14. K and I decided to each order a different type of meatball and side. I chose the Chicken ball with pesto and parmesan and roasted vegetables for the side. I enjoyed the pesto very much and used the garlic bread from K's side to soak up some more.

K chose the Classic Beef Ball with fire roasted tomato sauce and a side of garlic bread.

The flyer offered a free meatball slider and this was what came. It's so cute! A little difficult to eat because it's so tall but so cute!

Overall the meatballs were pretty decent. I'm a little skeptical about the normal price though. $14 for 4 meatballs even with a side seems overly priced.


Kitchen on Main St on Urbanspoon
©Disney
Take a peek into the world of toque macaques living in abandoned temples in Sri Lanka. Monkey Kingdom is DisneyNature's the 8th film, following Bears from last year. Narrated by Tina Fey, this time, we follow Maya a lowly toque macaque on the bottom rung of the monkey troop hierarchy. This means she eats last, lives on the ground instead of up in the tree branches and gets constantly bullied by the three alpha females and their children. Since rank is inherited, she has almost no chance of bettering her status...almost. A handsome lone macaque joins the group and Maya catches his eye...leading to the birth of their super cute son, Kip.

Monkey Kingdom is full of beautiful cinematic shots and tells a story that can resonate with a lot of us - working to better ourselves and providing a better future for our children. It's amazing how human these monkeys are sometimes. I loved watching the film and was fascinated by the behaviour of the monkeys. They are amazing animals!

Monkey Kingdom swings into theatres Friday, April 17th, 2015. As part of Earth Week, see Monkey Kingdom during opening week (4/17 – 4/23) and Disney will make a donation to benefit Conservation International to protect habitat in Indonesia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka!



Got Craft? is Vancouver’s largest indie craft fair celebrating their 17th show at the Maritime Labour Centre from May 2-3, 2015. 

We’re super excited to be returning to the East Village, one of our favourite Vancouver neighbourhoods this May to celebrate our Spring show,” says Andrea Tong-Tucker, one half of the husband-wife production team. “We’ll be bringing back some of our most popular workshops to the upcoming event such as hand lettering with legendary sign painter, John Lennig of Big Top Sign Arts.


The first 50 people through the door each day will receive a swag bag full of goods from vendors and sponsors. Also, D.I.Y. lovers will have a great time making their own craft projects at the workshops on site. For more information visit www.gotcraft.com.

Event details:
Dates: Saturday and Sunday, May 2-3, 2015 from 10am to 5pm
Venue: Maritime Labour Centre at 1880 Triumph Street, Vancouver, BC V5L 4C3
Tickets are $3 at the door and free for children 10 & under.

Social media:

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Spot the BMO Truck
Friday, Saturday
103-2nd Avenue West, Vancouver, BC
On April 17 and 18, BMO will have lots of FREE ice cream for everyone who comes to help them celebrate the opening of their new BMO branch False Creek.

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Spot the BMO Truck
Friday, Saturday
103-2nd Avenue West, Vancouver, BC
On April 17 and 18, BMO will have lots of FREE ice cream for everyone who comes to help them celebrate the opening of their new BMO branch False Creek.

Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo - $20
Saturday, 10:00am - 11:59pm
The Columbia. 530 Columbia Street New Westminster, BC V3L 1B1
The 4th Annual Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo will return in 2015 on April 18th, at The Columbia in New Westminster BC. We're bringing you vendors (some new, some old), artists (including the 8 Bits of Destiny art show), retro gaming (including tournaments fresh & expected), Video Game Trivia from West Coast Geeks versus Nerds, and performances from missingNo, and newcomers The Runaway Four, and Opus Arise.

Fraser River Walking Tour during Earth Week
Saturday, 11 a.m. -12pm
Start at the lower level of Marine Gateway station by Cambie and Southwest Marine Drive.
Environmentalist and fisherman Terry Slack will be speaking at a walking tour during Earth Week about how rehabilitating the area by the river will help restore oolichan runs.

Eat Italian at Urban Fare - starting $10
11am - 3pm
177 Davie St, Yaletown, BC V6Z 2Y1
Join Chefs David, Colin & Kat Urban Fare Yaletown on April 18 & 19 for Eat Italian in support of BC Children's Hospital Foundation! 4 Interactive Cooking Experiences. Book 1 Experience & Tasting for $10 or all 4 for $30.

Celebrate Spring 2015 Feire Varen
Saturday, 11am - 4pm
6688 Southoaks Crescent Burnaby BC V5E 4M7
Celebrate the cherry blossom season at our annual spring festival showcasing Japanese culture! Try your hand at cultural demos such as tea ceremony, kimono dressing, and crafts. For 2015, we are partnering with the Scandinavian Community Centre, so come enjoy inspiring performances by artists from diverse cultural backgrounds. You’ll also have the opportunity to peruse our line-up of local vendors and shop for unique accessories, kimonos, jewelry, sweets, and more. If Japanese food is what you’re after, we’ll be offering our popular sell-out Sakura Bento boxed lunches, as well as light tea and sweets.

Got Craft? Pop-Up at West Elm
Saturday, 12pm - 5pm
West Elm Market (2915 Granville Street, Vancouver)
West Elm (2947 Granville Street, Vancouver)

Got Craft? will be popping back up at West Elm and West Elm Market not once, but twice this month! Featuring five Got Craft? spring vendors at each event: Green With Envy, Vancouver Candle Co., G & T Design, Veespoke, and Got Craft? on Apr 18th.

Blossom Bollywood meets Kite Dance
Saturday, 1pm-2:30pm
Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza, 650 Hamilton St.
Shiamak Vancouver Performance Team (SDI) collaborates with Egan Davis on a new Blossom Bollywood meets Kite Dance performance. Come see Vancouver’s cherry blossom twist on the Indian Kite Festival and learn hip new Bollywood dance moves with the SDI team, no prior rehearsals required. All ages welcome!

Raw dessert demo and book signing
Saturday, 1-3pm
Book Warehouse, 4118 Main Street, Vancouver
Meet Heather Pace author of Sweetly Raw Desserts and watch a demo featuring creamy strawberry orange shake and chocolate fudge tart at Book Warehouse.

Ukrainian Arts and Culture Fest
Saturday & Sunday, 1pm - 4pm
Sunday 11:00 to 3:30 - Ukrainian Perogy Lunch 
AUUC Strathcona Ukrainian Hall & Performing Arts Society, 805 East Pender Street, Vancouver
Explore the spirited music, beautiful artistic traditions and delicious homestyle fare of Ukraine in this weekend-long Arts & Culture Fest held at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Strathcona. The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC), has an 85 year history of arts and culture programs in Vancouver. Pre-register for workshops. $20-$25, save on 2 or more.

Shogi event with Madoka Kitao (pro player from Japan)
Saturday, 1pm - 4pm
Japanese Hall, 487 Alexander Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6A
Shogi pro Madoka Kitao (北尾 まどか) will deliver a shogi and animal shogi presentation at 1:00pm. Afterward, we will break out into games of shogi and animal shogi. PLEASE NOTE: The initial presentation at 1:00pm will be entirely in Japanese language.

Capture Photography: Monument to Mysterious Fires—Tailgate Party
Saturday, 2pm
Parking Lot at Quebec and East 5th 60 E 5th Ave Vancouver, BC
Capture and Other Sights for Artists’ Projects co-host a family-friendly Tailgate Party to celebrate the installation of Other Sights’ public project, Monument to Mysterious Fires. The event includes entertainment, food trucks, and a beer garden from a local brewery.

Vancouver Premier of Project Wild Thing
Saturday, 6:30 -9:30 PM
Rooftop, MEC Vancouver -130 W. Broadway
WAV Poem Reading:  Vancouver Poet Laureate, Rachel Rose, Keynote –  Dr. Mariana Brussoni There will be prizes, a 10% MEC discount card, and chances to win cool outdoor gear! Get INvolved, and Get OUTside.    


Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Ukrainian Arts and Culture Fest & Perogy Lunch 
Saturday & Sunday, 1pm - 4pm
Sunday 11:00 to 3:30 - Ukrainian Perogy Lunch 
AUUC Strathcona Ukrainian Hall & Performing Arts Society, 805 East Pender Street, Vancouver
Explore the spirited music, beautiful artistic traditions and delicious homestyle fare of Ukraine in this weekend-long Arts & Culture Fest held at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Strathcona. The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC), has an 85 year history of arts and culture programs in Vancouver. Pre-register for workshops. $20-$25, save on 2 or more.

Hummingbird Homecoming - by donation
Sunday, 11:00am - 3:00pm
Richmond Nature Park, 11851 Westminster Highway Richmond, B.C.
Learn how to attract birds to a garden, how they feed and other bird facts. Presentations ongoing. By Donation

Eat Italian at Urban Fare - starting $10
11am - 3pm
177 Davie St, Yaletown, BC V6Z 2Y1
Join Chefs David, Colin & Kat Urban Fare Yaletown on April 18 & 19 for Eat Italian in support of BC Children's Hospital Foundation! 4 Interactive Cooking Experiences. Book 1 Experience & Tasting for $10 or all 4 for $30.

Baker's Market
Sundays, 11am - 3pm 
Moberly Arts & Cultural Centre, 7646 Prince Albert Street, Vancouver BC 
Get your fill of sweet & savoury baked goodies from local bakers and artisans. Inspired by traditional farmers markets in Vancouver, this market is even better since it is indoors with lots of free parking too. You'll find talented budding, professional or home bakers selling fresh artisanal breads, soft German pretzels, butter croissants, chocolate croissants, cupcakes, yummy cookies, hand made chocolates, brownies, Belgian Liege waffles,vegan cupcakes, mini bundt cakes, muffins, gluten-free baked goods and much more!

Nifty for Fifty
Sunday, 11am-8pm
Heritage Hall (3102 Main Street) 
30 local designers and artists will gather under one roof for the 8th annual Nifty for Fifty shopping sale. Find everything from accessories to clothing and trinkets, all for $50 or less. Just in time to revamp that Spring wardrobe!

Jelani Remy as “Simba” and the ensemble in “He Lives in You” from THE LION KING National Tour. ©Disney. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
More than 75 million people around the world have experienced the phenomenon of Disney’s THE LION KING, and now you can, too, when Vancouver’s best-loved musical returns to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for an exclusive 4 -week run beginning Thursday, June 18, 2015 and playing through Sunday, July 12, 2015.

In its 18th year, THE LION KING remains ascendant as one of the most popular stage musicals in the world. Since its Broadway premiere on November 13, 1997, 22 global productions have been seen by more than 75 million people and, cumulatively, run a staggering 112 years. Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), THE LION KING is only the second show in history to generate five productions worldwide running 10 or more years.

THE LION KING won six 1998 Tony Awards®: Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan) and Best Direction of a Musical. THE LION KING has also earned more than 70 major arts awards including the 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Event of the Year and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design.

Meet the Lions of THE LION KING:

©Disney.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Simba
Meaning: lion (Swahili)
Species: Lion

Only son of Mufasa, the King of the Pride Lands and ruler of Pride Rock, he is adventurous and mischievous and can't wait to be king!

©Disney. 
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Nala
Meaning: gift (Swahili—dubious)
Species: Lion

Best friend of Simba and partner in crime, Nala is just as bit of adventurous and mischievous as Simba.

©Disney. 
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Mufasa
Meaning: none
Species: Lion

The regal king of the Pride Lands and ruler of Pride Rock. He tries to teach his son Simba how to be a wise and responsible future king.
©Disney. 
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Scar
Meaning: none
Species: Lion

Mufasa's younger brother, who resents being second. Scar secretly plots to take over the throne.

Discover your inner Lion King and win tickets to Disney's THE LION KING in Vancouver!


Broadway Across Canada is generously giving away a pair of tickets to one of my readers for the THE LION KING performance on Thursday, June 18th at 7:30pm held at Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver! Here's how you can enter:


Giveaway closes on Monday, April 27th at 5:00pm. A winner will be drawn and notified via email and have 48 hours to respond, otherwise another winner will be drawn. Good luck!

If you don't win, tickets to the THE LION KING are on sale online or by calling 1-855-985-5000. Tickets start at $35.00 (plus applicable service charges).