Tag Archives: gardens

Festival of Lights

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Are you ready to experience the city’s most dazzling holiday tradition?  We can hardly wait!  The annual Festival of Lights is about to begin at VanDusen Botanical Gardens, and we’re excitedly preparing to take part in the magic.

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Opening December 7th, this spectacular display of twinkling trees and sparkling shrubs is a must-see event, ideal for the entire family.  Scads of volunteers and gardeners have been hard at work since Thanksgiving, checking every one of thousands of bulbs and delicately stringing them across the boughs of the Garden’s multifarious botanicals to create the finest light exhibition yet.

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Meanwhile, we’ve been putting together a show of our own, carefully planning and preparing the perfect comfort food staples to serve at four different booths inside the illuminated Garden.  Imagine the smell of fresh popcorn blending with that of fall cedar, the spicy aroma of hot apple cider lacing the brisk winter air, the warmth from a bowl of gourmet chili spreading through mittened palms, the pop and sizzle of traditional Bavarian sausages grilling under sparkling boughs…  No matter which part of the Garden’s Winter Wonderland you’ll be wassailing in, hot and delicious fare will always be close by!

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Here’s a more detailed picture of the gourmet goodies you can expect to sample from our Festival of Lights feast:

hotchocolate whitebkgdHot Chocolate Stand: steaming mugs of our famous hot chocolate topped with creamy marshmallows, hot and spicy apple cider, assorted souparomatic teas

Chili & Soup Bar: deep bowls of chili chock-full of local veggies and spicy seasoning, generous servings of our favourite soups made lovingly from the freshest sausageingredients

Gingerbread Wood BBQ Hut: smoky Bavarian sausages hailing the traditional baked potatoChristmas Homeland, piquant Tandoori chicken wrapped in soft warm tortilla topped with  succulent mango chutney400-04314475

Truffles Truck (from December 16th): classic poutine with rich gravy and real cheese curds, giant baked potatoes bedecked with sour cream, bacon, and cheese, crispy hand-cut french fries, juicy BBQ  pulled pork sandwiches, hot and buttery popcorn

In addition to these delectable offerings, our Garden Cafe inside the Visitor’s Centre will be open, serving more substantial fare and our usual menu of cold, hot, and alcoholic beverages.

The Festival of Lights runs every evening from 4:30-9pm until January 1st (excluding Christmas Day, when the Garden is closed).  For more details on the many festive goings-on to see and do at this event, check out VanDusen’s web page.  Get your tickets, friends and family together – this is an incredible holiday experience that you won’t want to miss!

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Urban Beekeeping

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Ever considered becoming a friend and farmer of bees?  Now might just be the best time: in addition to growing its participation in the urban farming movement, Vancouver is dabbling in the art of urban beekeeping – an earth-friendly hobby that’s taken off since the City Council gave its official nod of approval in July 2005.  Under the subsequent bylaws, residents can register up to 2 hives per 10 000 square foot lot – or up to 4 on lots exceeding that size – with the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and reap the many benefits of hosting an apian community right in their backyards.


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What benefits might those be, you ask?  An unexpected many, in fact!  To start off with, there’s the abundance of fresh bee products.  A single colony of bees can produce more than 100 pounds of harvestable honey.  That’s pure, unadulterated sweetness in the belly, produced right at your doorstep.  Imported varieties, by contrast, often contain GMO’s, sugar syrups, pesticides, and other additives used during commercial processing.  Nothing beats the taste of homemade, honest-to-goodness honey – like VanDusen’s house-made wildflower honey, which you can taste at the cafe with Afternoon Tea!


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Other bee products, including beeswax, pollen, bee venom, propolis (tree resin mixed with bee-produced enzymes) and royal jelly (enzyme-enriched food made by young worker bees to feed their queen) can be used in a wide variety of holistic health and healing practices, the science of which is known as apitherapy. 

Bees also offer backyard, community and public gardens incredible pollination power.  In fact, the pollination  service provided by bees is estimated to be 60 to 100 times greater than the market value of honey.  This is due to the rich diversity of plants that such efficient and Printwidespread pollination supports.  Due to an interdependence cultivated over 90 million years of co-evolution, many flowering plants will not bear fruit without pollination by bees.  It’s thanks to the bees that we can enjoy such a wealth of crops and floral blooms – 80% of our favourite fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes rely on honey bees for pollination.

Interestingly enough, studies have shown that urban areas are much healthier environments for bees than rural ones in many ways.  For instance, the density of city and sub-urban gardens tends to include a much greater concentration and diversity of pollen and nectar sources – a whopping 1000 varieties, in some places, compared to the average 10 in rural areas.  Most cities also enforce strict pesticide limits, which make these sources cleaner and healthier for both the bees and the honey they produce.  Additionally, the average temperatures within urban areas tend to be higher than those of rural regions, which allows bees to stay active (and productive) for longer periods of the year.

 Noah Wilson-Rich explains why every city needs healthy honey bees.

Love the idea but not a so DIY-inclined?  Hire a beekeeper to tend your hives for you!  Experienced beekeepers, like Melissa Cartwright of Backyard Buzz, have begun to offer their expertise to hive-owners throughout the city.  If the Lorax speaks for the trees, then Melissa speaks for the bees.  She’ll commune with the bees and do the hive-keeping heavy lifting, and you’ll get to keep all the honey.  A happy hive helps the city thrive!

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Excitement Ahead: Catering a Summer of Music

A summer rich with catering opportunities is coming to an exciting peak – this weekend, catch us at MusicFest Vancouver; next weekend we hit LIVE at Squamish for a lively gourmet, music-centered experience.  We absolutely love these festive pairings of music and culinary arts; they’re a large part of why we so cherish our Vancouver roots.  Rich arts, vibrant culture, exquisite food – what better wealth exists?

MusicFest MusicFest 2011 Regina Carter

MusicFest Vancouver, which began August 10th and closes on Sunday the 19th, celebrates its 12th season with over 40 phenomenal concerts and events.  It features a dynamic mix of classical, world, and jazz music performed by talented virtuosi from Canada and half a dozen other countries.  The perfect chance to “explore extraordinary music”, the festival spans the stages and centres of the city’s finest venues, incluKerplunks Band (large)ding CBC Plaza, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, Christ Church Cathedral, Cory Weed’s Cellar Jazz Club, the Orpheum Theatre, the Vancouver Playhouse, the Vogue Theatre, and – to our particular delight – VanDusen Botanical Gardens.

Right here, in our ostensible backyard, we’ll have the great pleasure of hosting two of these spectacular events on the Great Lawn this Sunday: BMO Family Day, Music in the Garden (11am – 3pm) and World at the Garden, New York Voices (7pm-9pm).  The former features the musical whimsy of Charlotte Diamond and the Kerplunks, with stories from the Green Man, drumming with Groove Masters Percussion, and the Tom Lee Music Petting Zoo in between; the latter closes the wonderful Festival with an evening al fresco with cool vocal jazz, performed by the Grammy Award-winning ensemble that has delighted audiences worldwide.  Find out more about MusicFest Vancouver here.

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At this event, we’ll be offering an array of our favourite BBQ fare, including Tandoori Chicken Kebabs, Beef Souvlaki, luscious Potato Salad, and a spread of freshly-baked cookies and squares.  For the artists, we’ll be hosting a private affair catered with additional dishes like Roasted Corn and Squash, a Cumin-Scented Brown Rice Pilaf, and a flavourful Tomato Avocado Salad with crunchy spiced tortillas.

Catering Array

As for LIVE at Squamish, we’ll be rolling into the 3-day music festival (August 24th – 26th) with our state-of-the-art food truck, equipped with convection ovens, 10-foot walk-in coolers, a portable water system, 6000-watt generators, deep freeze, and swanky entertainment systems.  Our team will be onsite from the 23rd to the 27th, armed and ready with an exhibition of epicurian excellence.

food truckWhile spectators rock the Silent Disco, party at the Virgin Mobile Glamping sites, chill at the Molson Canadian Beer Garden, and take in three amazing stages, we’ll be plying a whole different party of musical greats like The Tragically Hip, City and Colour, The Airborne Toxic Event, Lights, Wintersleep, Rococode, Current Swell, Plants and Animals, the Pack A.D. and many more with our gourmet delectables.  Artists and crew members will feast to their hearts’ content on our best breakfast, hot lunch, sandwiches and burgers between putting on an incredible show for fans.  We’ll be right in the middle of all the action!  Check out the LIVE at Squamish website for more info.

Live@Squamish 2011 stage Live@Squamish 2011 at night

Now you know what’s keeping us busy this month – but don’t worry, we’re still here to serve you at both cafe locations.  Come by anytime – you just might hear an inside scoop or two while you visit!

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