Monday, September 19, 2011

West 4th Ave Gossip

Presto Cucina, sadly, is no more here on West 4th in Kits. It was too bad - despite being fairly empty most of the time, the food was good (well, nothing to rave about, but better than a lot of local choices!) and the service was too. I thought their pizzas were as tasty as Rocky Mountain Flatbread's, and slightly cheaper, too. Alas. You can still catch them elsewhere (Abbotsford is one option), though I hear that Kits was the only place that the serve-yourself format didn't work. Apparently they never rebounded from that particular faux pas, despite being full service ever since I've patronized it. I guess I'll have to get my pizza fix from one of the lack-lustre Greek tavernas in the area (why do they all suck so much?!), or visit Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co at a time when badly-behaved adults (and children, but sadly mostly the adults!) aren't lousing the place up. I don't get why, but that place seems to attract people who are kind of loud, crass and, well, weird. I guess I've been urban for too long and forgot how suburbanites behave. (People - you really can't go wrong with jeans. Spandex - not so much. And ladies over 30 (and yep, this includes me! I abide by it!) - don't be seen in public in a skirt that barely covers your bum. And if you're over 40 - you shouldn't be seen in a skirt above the knees! And keep the cleavage to a minimum - no one needs to see a 6 inch tract of crepe-y, sun-damaged, middle-aged skin mushed together in a shiny halter top from Forever21! There, I said it! Phew, what a catharsis!).

On walking past the papered windows of Presto, I spoke with a friendly construction worker. He gave me the bad news that Presto Cucina was not returning post-renovation. BUT, he said something that made me VERY excited:

Arrivederci, Presto Cucina. I'll miss you, but then again....!

"It's going to be a Burgoo."

BURGOO! A fantastic place! The closest locations for me were West 10th up by Sasamat, or on Main near 15th. And soon it will be easy walking distance! JUST IN TIME for fall soup season and the sort of weather that makes one crave fondue (though when don't I crave molten cheese?).

Oh look - their website even lists the Kits location - Opening Fall 2011!

Ah, Burgoo. Another fantastic place for those of us with annoying, limiting food allergies - they have an 'allergy menu' that really makes dining out a pleasure. Burgoo and Wild Rice are the two best Vancouver restaurants, in my opinion, catering to people who can't eat things like garlic and red onion (yes, pity me. It's tough!).

Welcome, welcome, impending Burgoo! Oh, your biscuits and soups du jour! Your sinfully delicious fondues! Your mead, your pumpkin beers, and your cocktails! Who cannot love you?

See that?! "Garlic and Onion FREE menu"! Bless you!

Wild Rice - as conveniently located as you are next to Tinseltown on Pender, and as accessible as you are by bus from those of us close to the #4 trolley, the #7 trolley or the #22 bus - I think you should consider opening a second location here on 4th ave, in one of the many, MANY empty shop-fronts on the Arbutus - Maple block in particular: I think there's 5 or more empty stores in that block alone! Gone is Avalon Stationery (they moved to where Am accessories was, who went out of business), Chocolate Arts (another relocation), the cheap "Shoes for U" place is also gone, Ardea Books (which used to be The Book Warehouse), and the African Arts/Jewelry shop (which in turn was the Japanese "Hana" fine porcelain and gift shop):

One sad looking block, isn't it? Just Gumdrops the gumboot store left between Hell's Kitchen (yuck, yuck, yuck) and the crepe place (Gypsy Rose - good, but too expensive). Can't believe the Wellie store survived the summer at whatever rent they pay; the market for rubber boots must be slim to non-existent during beach season!

Speaking of Markets - has Caper's undergone a (partial) name change to Whole Foods? 'Cause the main sign has changed (note that the corner awning has not). Now I realise that Whole Foods has owned Caper's for quite some time, but this was the first time I actually noticed that they had replaced the cutesy coloured-tile letters on black with a humdrum white-on-green typical supermarket sign.

Caper's on corner awning, Whole Foods over front door. Identity crisis.

This really isn't exciting news (for which I apologise), since I'm quite sure the prices have either stayed the same or increased. They may have some good enviro options (like unbleached recycled muffin cups and recycled aluminum foil), but this is one of those shops best avoided if you have another option. If it's the only place to reliably find fresh chestnuts or epazote or watercress (note that I've never tried buying epazote there, which is something that is notoriously difficult to find - I'm actually going to try growing it myself instead), then go and enjoy. I've had to fall back on it numerous times, and I'm glad it's there. I just try not to go there first.

I'm hoping all this vacancy means that another Scoop will be around in time for Christmas (though I am adamant that I will make and create the vast majority of this year's Christmas gifts! Watch and be amazed!).

I'm also loath to admit this, but this post has been so largely based on consumerism that I'm actually quite embarrassed about it. Here I am frantically amassing raw materials for Christmas gifts-to-be, and yet I'm fascinated by the empty store-fronts along West 4th. See, the sad reality is - I actually like shopping. I really have bought into the whole commercial-materialistic aspect of our flawed modern society, and it's a struggle for me to accept that.

Being broke, in many ways, is a blessing. Since I don't have a family to care for, it's okay to be below-the-poverty-line. The struggle isn't really all that hard - in fact, it's not a struggle by any means. In contrast to the affluence around me, however, I often feel a "Have-not". I think it's important to remember that I am in every way that matters a "Have". We must keep this in mind and GIVE to those who truly are destitute and struggling just to eat, both at home and abroad.

Just 'cause you can't afford to outfit yourself at Anthropologie, lease a Maserati or buy all of your groceries at Urban Fare, doesn't mean you're poor. In fact, in might mean you're richer in spirit.

I've never actually been inside Kits House, but I think I might try to, soon. Every first Wednesday of the month is a Community Potluck, that you can come to, completely for free, and share & enjoy a meal with your neighbours. See the link here. In many cultures, particularly those in the East, and also in the time of the early churches, sitting down and sharing a meal with others was one of the most intimate things you could do. And it makes quite a bit of sense when you think about it - eating dinner with the family is a wise move to keep you together. Why not form a bigger family by expanding that experience to include some of your like-minded neighbours?

Now admittedly, I'm not big on potlucks, having some food allergy concerns. Then again, I just helped organize one at work last week, and I've also learned that if I make enough food, I can just eat what I brought worst-case-scenario. And if I can safely eat someone else's culinary contribution, I often really enjoy trying something new! (Desserts are also usually safe for me, thankfully!).

Yes, please respect the gardens! :) Gardeners literally toil in the dirt for their harvests!

Near and dear to my heart - the Kits Community House's push towards Food Security. Right on!

Getting involved with the community is a great way to get the most out of your neighbourhood, and usually this involvement is free. And I feel it's far preferable to be involved in a community food garden plot than to be a regular at the breakfast bar at Caper's (or Whole Foods, or whatever it wants to be called today). Poor in $, but rich in spirit - that's the way to be!

Kits Community House: 7th and Vine in Kits

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