JUSTEA

While travelling in Kenya, teatime became one of our favourite activities. Whether we were at our hotel in Nairobi on a cloudy day or watching hippos by the Mara River under the blazing hot sun, the locals always offered us a cup of tea. We have had our share of tea around the world, but there was something about Kenya's tea that made even the most loyal coffee drinker (Will) start drinking tea.

When we returned to Vancouver we searched everywhere for a tea that tasted like what we had in Kenya. After trying (what seemed like) a hundred different types of tea, we came across JusTea, a Vancouver owned company that prides itself on selling justly made Kenyan tea.  

JusTea started in 2012 when Vancouverite Grayson Bain travelled from Vancouver to Kenya in search of local entrepreneurs with businesses that were benefitting their immediate community. While in southwestern Kenya, he formed an instant connection with tea farmers in the Nandi Hills community. Grayson and his son Paul saw an opportunity to empower these tea farmers by creating a market to sell their tea leaves at a price that supported the needs of the community. Although Kenya is the world's largest exporter of tea, accounting for approximately 95% of the world's tea production, the farmers and pluckers working the tea fields and picking the leaves for buyers receive 20-30 cents a day. 

The Bains' partnered with Boaz Katah and his family from Nandi Hills. The Katah family was granted a 'Cottage Factory License' from the Tea Board of Kenya, allowing them to process their tea on site rather than selling the green tea leaves to a large corporation at unfair prices.  The 'cottage' nature of their processing plant means much of the work is done by hand or very simple machines in a small building. Unlike larger tea processing plants that cut and tear the tea leaves, the 'cottage' process maintains the whole leaf creating a richer and fuller flavour. JusTea currently employs 8 tea workers at the tea cottage, 30 people to hand-pluck leaves in the garden, and over 10 small-scale tea growers. They are committed to paying sustainable wages and investing in these rural communities.

Read and See more here

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KENYA

A special THE LOCAL VISITOR VISITS LOCALS post

A few months ago, we became parents to a beautiful baby girl...

... Elephant.

Her name is Malkia and she was rescued from Tsavo National Park by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) after her mother died during a very dry season. Wanting to be the best elephant parents we could be, we decided to visit our newest family member at her home in Nairobi, Kenya.

To be honest, we booked the flight (a very belated honeymoon) and then adopted Malkia, but that's not the story we tell her. 

We were in Kenya for just over a week and packed a lot in, mostly taking photos of animals. Highlights included a visit to the DSWT, of course, an orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program that reintegrates orphans back into wild herds. While the elephants are young and still require bottle feeding, though, visitors can attend bottle feeding / mud slinging for an hour at the watering hole. The mud is usually directed at other elephants, except when a certain Vancouverite gets in the way inadvertently and ends up covered from head to toe in mud (and who knows what else). As 'parents' we were allowed to return in the evening to watch the baby elephants charge back into their stockades to be fed a bottle and be put to bed. Each elephant has a keeper that sleeps in their stall, which makes being an elephant 'parent' very easy. 

We also visited the Giraffe Centre, which educates Kenya's schoolchildren about the country's wildlife and gives visitors an opportunity to come in contact with the resident giraffes. It was started by two Kenyans in an effort to establish a breeding program for the Rothschild Giraffe. Today, there are over 300 of these giraffes in various national parks around Kenya. Some of the giraffes remain at the 60-acre sanctuary and appear at a viewing platform to kiss visitors with their long, purple tongues. 

The real reason for our trip (sorry Malkia) was to go on safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Since it would be impossible to write about the trip in a succinct way that would take you fewer than 5 days to read (one day for each day on safari), we have uploaded photos here.

While many of the camps in the Reserve are probably excellent, we cannot say enough good things about the accommodation and staff at the Mara Intrepids Camp, and especially our driver, James. We were woken up each morning with a cup of tea and cookies before going on safari, and fell asleep each night with a warm hot water bottle to keep our toes warm while listening to the animals. We were surprised by the staff (who all knew our names and Ms. Sarah's obsession with Mango juice) with a special candlelight dinner under a gazebo, with packed breakfasts to eat while watching the hippos in the Mara River, and with a private catered breakfast on our last day. We visited a Maasai village, saw the view from a hot air balloon, and experienced a full rain storm from the comfort of a Land Rover Defender. We saw so much wildlife and gained so much respect and understanding of the ecosystem, thanks largely to James' never ending knowledge, patience (male lions are not as easy to find as you might think), and sense of humour. 

We are already planning our next trip back (mostly to see James again) but until then, the photos will have to do.

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EARNEST ICE CREAM

In a city where it rains every day for at least eight months of the year, some might think that Vancouver's affinity for standing in line ups for ice cream while holding umbrellas is strange. But some people haven't been to Earnest Ice Cream.

Since opening the doors of its first storefront in 2012, Earnest has become a local favourite. It's one of those places that is constantly pushing tastebud boundaries, creating flavours such as Bourbon Peach, Miso Ginger, and Sweet Corn Blueberry Swirl. They also collaborate with local distilleries and breweries including 33 Acres and Sons of Vancouver. The extensive list of vegan flavours made with coconut are as good (some might even say better) as those made with milk. Earnest has made a commitment to making their product with seasonal ingredients and in small batches, which means some flavours are constantly rotating while the staples are there for good. Don't like surprises? The day's available flavours are updated on their website.

Click here to read more!

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THE MACKENZIE ROOM

Since opening in 2015, The Mackenzie Room has become one of our favourite go-to places when we want something appealingly original and reliably fantastic.

The Mackenzie Room is owned by husband / wife team Andrew and Katie Jameson, and their partner / chef Sean Reeve. It's named after Andrew's great-great grandfather William Mackenzie, the famous Canadian entrepreneur and railway contractor who founded the Canadian Northern Railway. Mackenzie is also Andrew's middle name and his daughter's name. Located across from Oppenheimer Park, the restaurant is somewhat off the beaten track but that adds to its charm. Located in the old Parke Place Coffee Bar, the owners removed most of the space's drywall to expose the original brick and cement walls. With reclaimed wood tables and antique décor, the restaurant is reminiscent of Vancouver's early pioneering days, offset by large windows and bright splashes of colour.

The menu, written on a large chalkboard at the back of the restaurant, is always changing to showcase locally sourced items. With a focus on nose-to-tail dishes, the menu is never dull (and the dishes' names are always punny). The menu allows you to choose share plates, individual entrees, or the full tasting menu. Pair your choice(s) with a BC wine or choose from the extensive cocktail menu, and watch as your meal is prepared behind the open kitchen and your drink is mixed behind the bar. Our go-to starter is the Showstopper Salad, which is one of the constant items on the menu. Make sure you leave enough room for dessert, though! 

If the food and drinks alone aren't enough to get your in the door, the service is friendly and unpretentious, which means you are sure to have good conversation, even if it's not with your date.

Read and see more here

BOWS X ARROWS

Bows x Arrows is a much-loved Victoria coffee roaster that opened its doors on Fraser Street at 26th Avenue in 2016. In addition to its renowned coffee, the café has an extensive food menu curated by Trevor Pruegger of Birds + Beets and a well stocked drink list with several regional craft beers and wines.  

The bright space is open and full of wooden furniture and greenery. In the centre of the café is a long communal table that sits under an impressive planter and light fixture. It's the perfect place to meet up for a coffee with friends in the morning or mingle with strangers over cocktails in the evening. Bows x Arrows seems to thrive on not fitting directly into the traditional box of 'coffee shop' or 'bar'. Its identity shifts throughout the day creating a unique and welcome addition to the Vancouver café + bar landscape.

Read more here.

THE LOCAL VISITOR'S 2016 GIFT GUIDE

If you're like most of us, you've just realized Christmas is nearly here. And if you're like some of us, your list includes some people who seem to have everything. Don't despair, we have (again) created a list of ideas that anyone would be thrilled to receive.

For the person who hates rain (or snow):

Those of us born in the city learned to hold an umbrella before we learned to walk. Those who are recent arrivals must quickly learn how to navigate the sea of umbrellas without loosing an eye. Nobody can ever have too many umbrellas, and that's even more true when they are designed by Westerly Goods. With quality craftsmanship and striking graphics and colour ways, these umbrellas cater perfectly to the urbanite with a desire to go outside and return home (relatively) dry.  Westerly also offers a variety of hats and other rain protective gear.

For the person with furniture: 

Furniture (even furniture that needs to be assembled with an Allen key) should be protected from drinks. Even if the furniture came from the lane, you can pass it off as "reclaimed" with the use of a coaster. For all your coaster (and other wood needs including cutting boards, serving boards, and furniture), we suggest heading over to Pacific Design Lab. Their workshop is conveniently located behind their retail shop so you can see how it's made. Be sure to shake Georgie's paw when you're there. 

Walrus: Not just for those long in the tooth

This shop on Cambie Street is as unique as its name. It has something for everyone, including items from Westerly Goods and Pacific Design Lab (how convenient). Full disclosure: we have done most of our Christmas shopping at Walrus, and  can attest that there is nobody on your list whose gift can't be found here. 

For the True Crime Lover

If you know someone who was glued to Serial or binge watched all of Making a Murderer then this is the perfect gift for them. In Cold Case Vancouver, author and local historian Eve Lazarus describes several unsolved murders that all occurred in Vancouver. Rich with historical facts and references, each chapter is chilling in its detailed narrative.  Given the setting of the book, enthusiastic readers can visit the sites of many of these crimes as they speculate on who may have gotten away with murder.  This book is also the perfect gift for 'The History Buff', 'The Bookworm' or anyone who wants to curl up on a cold night with a cold case (and a mug of hot chocolate or course).

We hope this help you in your search for the perfect gift for those last few names on your list.  Finally, Happy Holidays from The Local Visitor and we'll see you in 2017!

DESIGNING KITS POOL

Originally built in 1931, Kits Pool is Vancouver's only (heated) saltwater swimming pool and, at 137m (150 yards), it's also the longest pool in Canada. The pool itself is picturesque, with views of the mountains, ocean, beach, and downtown skyline. The pool is designed like the neighbouring beach, gradually becoming deeper as you wade toward the ocean, making it accessible to every age and swimming ability from babies to athletes. 

And while all those things make Kits Pool worth a visit, there's much more to the pool's design than most people know (until now...).

In the 1970s the City decided to renovate the pool to bring it up to the BC Building Code. They hired Howard Architects and John Bingham was tasked as the Project Architect. Fortunately for us, we know John pretty well and convinced him to tell us anything he could remember about the renovation that isn't already on paper.

The first challenge of the renovation was to address the Provincial Government's requirement for a continuous seawall path for public access and maintenance along the entire length of the seawall. At that time, a concrete wall separated the ocean from the pool, effectively ending the seawall to the east of the pool. The Architects kept the original wall (which is still there today directly north of the pool) and created a new wall for the pool at a higher elevation so that it was no longer fed directly by the ocean. 

One of the major components of the renovation was to include new mechanics for cleaning and heating the water. Since its opening, the pool had been seawater fed at high tide. Until the renovation, though, the water was untreated and unheated. With the addition of new mechanical system, the pool is now filled with treated sea water once only at the beginning of the summer. Over the season, evaporated water is replaced by fresh water. By the end of the summer, Kits Pool is filled with more fresh water than sea water. 

The change rooms were also included in the renovation. The men's and ladies' symbols on the walls differentiating the change rooms were meant to be placeholders on the Architectural drawings only. However, they ended up making the cut and are carefully recreated with every paint job. The cubbies on the deck are chimney stacks turned on their side, a relatively cheap (and original) way to create open cubbies. Light wells into the change rooms can be seen from the concession stand south of the pool, but have since been covered to mitigate privacy concerns.

Other areas included in the renovation were the Showboat, which acts as a stage for amateur performers. The circular deck that sits out above the change room was originally supposed to have a tent (the clips for the tent are still there). However, the tent and the children's spray park designed to the east of the pool for eliminated due to budgetary constraints (and have apparently since been abandoned altogether).

Construction of the renovation began in 1978 and took approximately one season to complete. Apparently, the mayor at the time received numerous complaints about noise during the construction, which could only be done during low-tide, whenever low tide happened to be that day. 

After leading the design of the renovation, the same Architectural firm was commissioned by the City to design Second Beach Pool. While Second Beach Pool is not saltwater fed, it does have the same graduated entry as Kitsilano Pool, making it equally popular for families with young children.

Read and see more here

John Bingham, of Bingham + Hill Architects, was the project architect for the pool's renovation

John Bingham, of Bingham + Hill Architects, was the project architect for the pool's renovation

Looking North over Kits Pool during its first season after the renovations. Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects.

Looking North over Kits Pool during its first season after the renovations. Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects.

The view from inside the lifeguard station, 1979. Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects

The view from inside the lifeguard station, 1979. Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects

Kits Pool during its first season after the renovations in 1978. Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects.

Kits Pool during its first season after the renovations in 1978. Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects.

DICKIE'S GINGER

While on holiday in Bermuda, we developed a bit of an addiction to Barritt's Ginger Beer, a ginger soft drink that has been bottled in Bermuda since 1874. Unfortunately for us Canadians, it's only available outside Bermuda in the United States and the Caribbean. Upon returning to Vancouver, we started scouring the city for something that could replace our beloved ginger drink. We had just about given up on finding a ginger beer that tasted like something other than sugar, when we discovered Dickie's Ginger. 

Dickie's is the creation of  Vancouverite Stephen Tufts. Originally from the Okanagan, Stephen moved to Vancouver in 2012 after previously leaving his job as a software engineer to bicycle around Asia. Upon returning to Canada, Stephen wanted to do something that would contribute to the urban fabric, bringing people and their city together. Knowing of a successful ginger beer company in Seattle, Stephen started his crusade to create Vancouver's perfect ginger beer. 

After four months of trial and error, Stephen had found a recipe he was happy with and Dickie's was created. In 2014, Stephen started selling his product at Farmers Markets, carefully watching peoples' faces for feedback. By 2015, he had started bottling the product and distributing it around Vancouver. The recipe consists of three ingredients: real ginger, real lemon, and real organic cane sugar. The result is a drink that perfectly balances the taste of ginger and lemon, with a hint of sweetness. In addition to the original flavour, Stephen makes three additional flavours each week. All the batches are made weekly for maximum freshness. Due to the nature of cold pressed, unpasteurized juice, each batch good for up to four weeks.

Dickies Ginger is still sold at Farmers Markets (check the website for dates and locations). It is also available at stores and restaurants / bars in Vancouver, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, New Westminster, and Squamish (check the website for locations). Some places will even fill a growler - that's a lot of Dark 'N' Stormys.  

read and see more here

DEEP COVE

Located at the foot of Mount Seymour, Deep Cove is the easternmost neighbourhood in the District of North Vancouver. 

This neighbourhood is on the traditional clamming and fishing grounds of the Squamish Salish native nation. By the 1910s, Deep Cove had become a popular summer resort for Vancouver residents. The population grew in the 1960s and 1970s after the completion of the Second Narrows Bridge. 

Deep Cove has retained its small town feel despite its growth. It is popular among outdoor enthusiasts due to its proximity to the forests, mountains, and the ocean. And if you'd rather relax on your holiday, the boutique shops and cafés should keep you occupied. 

Here's what we recommend:

Quarry Rock
This is by far North Vancouver's most popular hike. It's 3.8 kilometres, 100 metres in elevation, and takes about two hours two hours to complete (less if you have a dog who can pull you up the hill). The hike is part of the Baden Powell Trail, a 48 kilometre hiking trail named after Lord Baden Powell, founder of the Scouting Movement.
The hike takes you over bridges, past waterfalls, and ultimately to a rocky outcrop called Quarry Rock. The view of Indian Arm and Burnaby Mountain will make you forget about all the stairs on the way back down.
To find the trail's entrance, head north on Panorama Drive toward the signs pointing to the Baden Powell Trail.

A'hoy Goods
This shop is the personification of the West Coast. It has just enough nautical overtones to give it a Deep Cove flavour, but not too many to make it cheesy. The store stocks gift items but also women's, men's, and children's clothing and footwear. Oh, and it's owned by Lyndon and Jamie Cormack, the minds behind Herschel Supply Co. so there are plenty of those, too.
4391 Gallant Avenue, North Vancouver
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Café Orso
This European inspired café serves breakfast and lunch dishes, and everything in between. The Liege waffles are a great reward after your north shore adventures, and the Ploughman's Lunch will give you fuel if you're having a tough time getting started. The café serves Forty-Ninth Parallel coffee, Blasted Church wine, Deep Cove craft beer, and bread from Nelson the Seagull. Regardless of whether you'll burn off the calories, Café Orso is always worth a visit.
4316 Gallant Avenue, North Vancouver
cafeorso.ca

Honey Doughnuts and Goodies
While Honeys serves brunch and lunch, it's probably best known for its doughnuts. They are baked fresh throughout the day, so chances are you will get to enjoy it warm. These aren't your average doughnuts though - they are so packed with flavour there's no room for the hole! There's a big patio out front (on top of an AstroTurf soccer field) so everyone else can admire your doughnut eating.
4373 Gallant Avenue, North Vancouver
honeydoughnuts.com

Sunny Side
According to its website, this shop was inspired by the idea of finding an abandoned cottage in the woods on the sunny side of Indian Arm and bringing it back to life. This is probably the most perfect description of this little store. It's filled with succulents, skincare items, tea, ceramics, and textiles. It's the perfect place to find any gift - either for yourself or someone else.
105C - 4390 Gallant Avenue, North Vancouver
enjoythesunnyside.com

see more here

THE GALLEY PATIO & GRILL

Now that summer seems here to stay (finally), it's only natural that you would be in search for the best patio to relax and watch the sunset. The Galley Patio & Grill is probably one of the city's best kept secrets and offers one of the best views around.

Located on the second level of the Jericho Sailing Centre, The Galley is not easy to find - if you've ever been to Jericho Beach, chances are you've passed it without realizing. The patio is actually a deck that spans the north side of the building with unobstructed views of downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park, the North Shore Mountains, Point Atkinson, Bowen Island, and the Sunshine Coast. Since 1989, The Galley has been fuelling hungry beach-goers and sailors. Whether you're looking for soups and salads, burgers and sandwiches, or "Beach Food" (fish & chips, fish tacos, or an oyster po'boy), this place has it all (yes, including wine and beer). There's even a breakfast menu if you're staking out your beach spot early.

Click here to read more.

AU COMPTOIR

If you need to get away without really getting away we have found the perfect place - Au Comptoir. It will make you feel like you've been whisked away to a bistro on the streets of Paris (without the cost of the flight).

The Parisian illusion starts with the bistro seats on the narrow patio that overlooks 4th Avenue. On opening the doors, you will be greeted by friendly, charming waiters with perfect French accents. A bank of tables on one side of the restaurant with blue leather bench searing provides for perfect people watching. The other rows of tables (with cast iron Singer sewing machine legs) provide more seating. The shiny tin bar adds sparkle and a little je ne sais quoi.

Au Comptoir serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner on weekdays and breakfast, brunch, and dinner on weekends. There are separate menus for each meal so you can sit there all day rolling from one menu to the next.

Read and see more here

BERMUDA

A special 'LOCAL VISITOR VISITS LOCALS' post

Chances are, when someone mentions Bermuda, your first thoughts are of a mysterious triangle or a pair of men's shorts (perhaps even worn with a pair of stylish knee-high socks, loafers, and a blazer). Along with some images of beautiful, pink sand beaches, that's really all we know about the country until we visited. We quickly discovered this little island is big on personality.

If you've already headed to Google Maps to search for Bermuda, let us help you; it's about 12,000 kilometres south of Cape Sable Island in Nova Scotia and 1,600 kilometres northeast of Miami. It's a three hour flight from Toronto or two and a half hours from New York. Although it's made up of 181 islands, you'll really have to zoom in. The main island, Bermuda, is only 53 sq. kilometres. 

Before we dive in to the many amazing things about Bermuda, here's a short history lesson: 

It's named after the Spanish captain Juan de Bermúdez, the first known European explorer to reach this (apparently) inhabited island in 1503. He didn't stay long, though, so Britain's Virginia Company permanently settled the island in 1609 when the passengers and crew from a ship took refuge from a hurricane here. The English Crown took over the island's administration in 1684 and made it a British colony in 1707. While the country remains a British Overseas Territory, Bermuda has its own dollar, which is interchangeable with the American dollar. Subtle hints of its British roots can be seen everywhere, including its geographical names, its street signs, and even its litter bins. 

The native-born Bermudians can trace their roots back to European settlers or those individuals brought to the country through the slave trade largely from Africa, or Native Americans from the Algonquin. Today, about 65,000 people live on the island, making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world (though, it doesn't feel that way). About 30 percent of Bermuda's population is made of expatriate workers, mostly from Britain, Canada, USA, South Africa, and the West Indies. The economy relies largely on the insurance, reinsurance, and tourism industries. 

As a very small country in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda has implemented some unique rules to make things run more smoothly:

  • There are no car rentals in Bermuda. In fact, each household it only permitted one car. There is an easily navigable bus system and scooters are very popular (especially among daredevils - the roads are narrow and winding, but Bermudians handle them like pros). 
  • By law, each household must collect its own potable water from rainwater. Every building has whitewashed, terraced roofs that direct water to underground storage tanks under the building.
  • The price of land in Bermuda is high (land constraints, combined with the cost of importing building material). As such, non-Bermudians are only allowed to purchase real estate from other non-Bermudians. Michael Bloomberg (the former Mayor of New York) was able to acquire his weekend getaway here. Oprah, however, was not.

Every travel book and website will suggest certain must-visit locations:

  • St. George is a quaint, historical town at the most northeast end of the island, complete with original stone buildings. Established in 1612, it is the oldest, continuously inhabited English town in the New World. 
  • Horseshoe Bay is a popular beach on the south side of Bermuda with pink sand and turquoise water. There are even beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent, and a café and washroom facilities nearby.
  • The Dockyards, at the east tip of the island, is home to the cruise ships. It has shops and restaurants, but is a great place to find gifts for everyone who didn't join you on your trip!
  • Crystal and Fantasy Caves were discovered by a pair of teenagers in 1907. You can tour both, but if you only have time for one we recommend Crystal Cave, which has a large pool of sea water and floating docks. And the tour guides are worth the entrance fee.
  • Swizzle Inn, but expect to swagger out. Order a Rum Swizzle or a Dark 'N' Stormy for a real Bermudian experience.

We are very fortunate to have amazing friends in Bermuda, who were able to introduce us to some of the more local parts of the island:

  • If you visit St. George, don't only stop in the town. Continue on to find some amazing beaches that have great snorkelling opportunities, such as Tobacco Bay or St. Catherine's Beach.
  • From Horseshoe Bay, walk east along the paths toward Warwick Bay. You will discover secluded, protected beaches, each more beautiful than the one before. You can take refuge from the sun under the rock formations on the beach and look for the parrot fish that come right up to the shore.
  • If you're looking for boats at the Dockyards, we recommend getting up close and personal by renting a small one from Blue Watersports at Elbow Beach and taking it to Castle Island. The little island has castle ruins and a deserted beach nearby that is perfect for a romantic picnic or the perfect photo. 
  • When you visit the Caves, make sure you have time for an ice cream from Bailey's Bay Ice Cream Parlour. You'll also notice the Swizzle Inn is conveniently located across the street! 
  • Whether it's at the Swizzle Inn, or anywhere else, you have to order a traditional Bermudian fish sandwich on raisin bread. We won't ruin the description here, just trust us. Other great dining spots include Bouché (try the pancakes, known by the locals as the fluffiest around), 1609 at Hamilton Princess (make sure you find the Warhol, Ai Wei Wei and Banksy pieces in the lobby), and Rosa's (you have to order the wings). 

If Bermuda wasn't on your bucket list before, it should be. The pastel coloured buildings are unlike anything you will see on any mainland. The turquoise water and the pink sand beaches are picture-perfect. But it's really the people who make the country truly special - friendly and welcoming, to each other and tourists alike. You may even catch yourself wishing you could move here (and continue getting a really good tan)! 

VANCOUVER BIENNALE

With the long, hot days of summer nearly here, it's only natural that you are planning how your outdoor adventures can supplement your Instagram account. Before you resign yourself to joining the hordes of people vying for selfie space near Siwash Rock, try taking a photo with a giant jelly bean.

Vancouver Biennale is a bi-annual public art exhibition that celebrates international artists through sculpture, new media, and performance works in public spaces. The first exhibit in 1998 was a collaboration with the Vancouver Park Board and brought international sculpture to English Bay for four months. It was so well received that the Vancouver Biennale was established as a non-profit charitable organization. Subsequent exhibitions occurred in 2005-2007, 2009-2011, and 2014-2016. To date, Vancouver Biennale has featured 91 outdoor sculpture and new media works throughout Metro Vancouver by 78 artists from 15 countries and 4 continents. 

Some of the sculptures from the exhibitions have remained in Vancouver as Legacy Works, such as the A-maze-ing Laughter sculptures at Morton Park, and Echoes, the 16 stainless steel chairs at Kitsilano Beach. Other works are only here until the end of this exhibition, such as Love Your Beans at Charleston Park (the giant jelly beans) and Trans Am Totem (the scrap-metal cars on the Cedar tree) at Quebec Street and 217.5 Arc x 13 (sometimes referred to as the ship hull) at Sunset Beach.

Read more here.

JOHNNY'S POPS

Do you remember the days when you could buy an ice cream from a guy with a bicycle? Well, Johnny's Pops has taken that nostalgic idea and has given it a twist, selling popsicles made from locally sourced ingredients from the front of a bicycle he retrofitted himself.

Johnny grew up in Agassiz and made the big move to Vancouver in 2010. One day, he was inspired by someone in Atlanta making popsicles with interesting flavours. So, Johnny retrofitted a bicycle to hold a cooler for 100 popsicles, found some warehouse space with a kitchen, and in May 2013, Johnny's Pops was born.

The popsicle flavours are largely a result of trial and error. What started as an attempt to recreate ice cream flavours has moved to create unique and mouth-wateringly good popsicles. Flavours include raspberry lime, coconut, apricot salted caramel, and creamy strawberry lemonade. The fruit is largely sourced from Krause Berry Farms in Langley, which has been in operation for over 40 years.

Johnny reckons he has made more than 60,000 popsicles since 2013, which have been devoured everywhere from the Food Cart Fest, to the Vancouver Farmers Market, Khatsahlano, and at private catering functions. This year, Johnny will also be at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, which in itself is a good reason to go. The popsicles are also sold at retail locations including Welk's General Store (3511 Main Street), Gigi Blin and soon at the Dirty Apron (540 Beatty Street).

So the next time you're craving something good (and cold) on a hot day, use the Vancouver Street Food App to find Johnny - he'll be the guy with the striped shirt and really really good popsicles. 

See more here

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THIERRY

As anyone with a sweet tooth can attest, finding a good location for dessert that caters to every mood and craving can seem like an impossible task. Unless you've discovered Thierry. 

Thierry, by award winning pastry chef Thierry Busset, is part chocolaterie, part patisserie, and part café. It serves hand crafted chocolates, macaroons, pastries, and desserts, all of which have seasonal options. You could spend hours perusing the counter, looking at all the delicious cakes and the rainbow assortment of macaroons. The only thing stopping you will be the impatient line up behind you - this place is popular!

The interior of the café matches the luxury of the Alberni shopping strip on which Thierry resides. With curved, palmwood walls, Thonet brentwood café chairs, and a heated outdoor patio, you may never want to leave!

Read and see more here

PORTO CAFE

Porto Café is where presentation and design mix to create a coffee shop that is casual enough for your teenage brother but with the attention to detail your grandmother demands.

This 30-seat café boasts a contemporary design with natural tones, concrete and wood accents, and Eames chairs.  The food and drinks are served on wood boards, etched with Porto's logo. Even the logo has been carefully thought out - it depicts the buildings surrounding the café. As the brand expands, each coffee shop will have its own logo to represent the buildings in its neighbourhood.

The coffee beans served at Porto come from Vancouver's Pallet Coffee Roasters, and are served in all shapes and sizes (and types). Even non-coffee drinkers have choice here, from a wide selection of teas, to hot chocolate, and smoothies. While some of the baked goods are made in the café, others come from local bakeries including Cadeaux Bakery (the cookies taste as good as they look). If you're in the mood for something savory, try the breakfast sandwich, prepared with avocado, Italian meats, and greens.

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NAT'S NEW YORK PIZZERIA

Nat's New York Pizzeria serves the legitimate, thin crust, Neapolitan-style pizza you'd expect to find in the Big Apple, made more authentic by the New York images and relics that adorn every square inch of wall space in this joint.

The pizza's crust and tomato sauce recipe originates from owners Nat and Franco Bastone's great great great grandmother's kitchen in Naples, Italy. The recipe eventually made its way to New York, where Nat and Franco travelled in 1991 to learn the family secrets. Nat and Franco (cousins who grew up in Vancouver and attended Kitsilano High School) opened their first pizzeria in Kits in 1992 and their West End location in 2000. Nat's quickly became a neighbourhood establishment and loyal patrons began spreading their love for the pizzeria by posing in exotic locations around the world wearing an official Nat's t-shirt. These pictures, of which there are easily hundreds, are immortalized on all the walls and counters.  

Along with an assortment of vegetarian and meat-lovers pizzas, Nat's also serves pasta, salads, and heros (foot long subs), all available for dine-in, take-out, or delivery. If given a choice, though, dine-in for the true New York, New York experience.

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YOLKS

There's nothing better than a perfectly poached egg. Thank goodness for Yolks.

Yolks first started as a food truck in 2012, easily recognizable by its bright blue exterior and the long line of Vancouverites willing to eat the perfect breakfast in the rain. Chef/owner Steve Ewing opening the Restaurant and Commissary in Strathcona two years later with the same bright blue awning, and the line up quickly formed outside. Yolks' second bricks and mortar location opened in 2015 in Fairview Slopes, again with its blue awning. And if you're sitting at work while reading this, don't despair! You can even have Yolks delivered to your office.

Yolks has all the typical breakfast / brunch / lunch offerings you might expect, but with a twist. Like the Chicken Waffles (waffles, fried chicken, gravy, and maple syrup), or the choose-your-own-breakfast-adventure, poached eggs style. Even the drinks menu is unique and delicious. 

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MOJA COFFEE

From the clean,contemporary interiors of the café (wood table + black pendant lights = the perfect combination), to the perfectly roasted coffee beans, Moja Coffee has it all. It's even in the running for the city's best chocolate croissant in our opinion.

Moja was started by Doug Finlay and Andrew Wentzel, who taught themselves to roast beans in the basement of their North Vancouver home in 2003. The name moja comes from the Swahili word for "one", which represents their belief in offering single origin beans. In 2008, the pair opened their first café and roasting operation in North Vancouver on Rupert Street. They subsequently opened a second café on Commercial Drive, and we are sue glad they did! 

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WESTERLY GOODS

Vancouverites have a complex relationship with the city in which we live. We boast about the lush, green forests, but we complain about the rain that feeds them. We tell stories of long summer days filled with hiking and biking, forgetting that it is cloudy and wet for two thirds of the year. Westerly Goods was founded on this complex relationship as motivation to eliminate rain delays through good quality, well designed goods to encourage year-round adventures.

Duncan Gillespie and Bryan Pudney cofounded Westerly Goods in 2012 and launched their first umbrellas in winter of 2014. People living outside a temperate rain forest may not understand the importance of a good umbrella. But to Duncan and Brian, the perfect umbrella was a function of good quality and design to create a We(s)t Coast necessity. Westerly umbrellas include flexible, fibreglass ribs to bend in the wind, fabric prevents and rosettes to cover the sharp parts that can rip through the fabric, a wooden handle for a true west coast flavour. The designs achieve their goal of being beautiful - they are unique and eye-catching, with something for everyone. All these elements combine to create an umbrella that is not only functional but also hard to leave behind. 

And if holding an umbrella isn't your thing, Westerly also creates water-resistant headwear for those times when your adventure requires both hands.

W: westerlygoods.com

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