vancouver

Pender Grocery: An Interview + Pan Con Tomate Recipe

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With it’s colourful interiors and sun-lit space—it is hard to miss this charming grocery store on Pender street. The smell of fresh baked goods beckons you in to admire the shelves and tables that are wonderfully stocked with Spanish goods, everyday necessities and organic produce.

Today, I sit down with Shawn, one of the three founders of Pender Grocery. Shawn tells stories of food and travel in the Basque region, how he discovered his passion for food, and their vision to cultivate slow living in a busy city. For a moment, my mind is teleported to apple fields, farmer markets, old towns and a relaxed and pleasant ambience that the store seems to emit.

Tell me how you started from importing cider to opening a grocery store in downtown Vancouver.
A few years ago, my wife and I travelled to Spain to visit our friend Michael, who was the chef of a restaurant in San Sebastian, a city known for Michelin restaurants. Michael introduced us to Basque cuisine—we experienced the pintxo culture, and ate our way through restaurants, each more interesting than the last. The experience shook me and there I discovered that I had a deep passion for food. It was a lightbulb moment. After Michael moved back to Vancouver, the three of us started importing wine and cider from the region and it led to importing goods, and the opening of this store.

Opening a store was actually a plan for us in the next three-five years. Luckily, we came across this space at the perfect time, and the landlord, who was hugely supportive of our idea, made us an offer we couldn’t resist.

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The sign on the wall and decorations in the store caught my attention the moment I walked in, how did the look and design for the store come to be?
We are actually sitting in a space that used to be parking lot 100 years ago. The sign on the wall is something really special—we uncovered it when we were tearing down the walls to reconstruct the space. It is a ghost sign from 1906 that was covered up in 1908. We decided to keep it to lead the look of the space. After that, everything seemed to fall into place. Many of the vintage pieces here are collected from friends and family as well as passed down from Kelly’s late grandmother.

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This is a very interesting location to open a grocery store, what is it that you hope to bring to the community here?
Living in the city, we are disconnected from farmlands and we don’t get to see how food is grown and made. We felt that the area was lacking a grocery store, and the idea was to create a Bodega—a grocery store for the neighbourhood.

Our customers consists of working professionals, and residents form the local community. We want to cater to everyone but also want people to come in not knowing what to expect. We want to invite shoppers to take their time to browse, and to be inspired to cook.

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Using ingredients from your shop, what is a simple and delicious recipe that anyone can make?
I love a good Pan Con Tomate—a humble recipe with few ingredients. Slice a fresh tomato, place on traditional crusty bread, drizzle with olive oil and add a sprinkle of salt. A simple snack can be a good can of conservas from the store—sardines, squid or mussels marinated in Galician sauce. Simply open a can, dip with bread, and eat with gusto with a glass of wine. It is a tasty high end treat.

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Pan Con Tomate Directions

In a small bowl combine sliced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper

Whisk until combined

Toast the bread slices individually until golden warm and crispy

Set on plate and sprinkle with sea salt

Top with fresh basil

Serve

Vancouver City Guide: 10 places to eat, visit and photograph

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Sunset at Whytecliff Park

I cannot believe that February is already here! It feels like the holidays have barely gone by and now we are hurtling towards a season of warmer weather and exciting projects.

I made a list for a friend planning to visit Vancouver and thought I would share it with all of you. Vancouver is one of my favourites cities with beautiful things I tend to forgot about the longer I am here.

When I think about travel, I think about all the places that fill me with wanderlust. New cities, people, humid air, markets and different cultures that make my heart skip a beat as I am sitting home writing about my city.

So bear with me while I take a step back and revisit Vancouver through the eyes of a tourist. Though I am sure that you will agree that friends, food, nature and art will make any city in the world a good destination to visit.

Eat 

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Pear and brie prosciutto sandwich at Finches. An all time favourite

1. Finches Tea & Coffee House: No words. If you are ever in Vancouver do take time to try the pear, proscuitto and brie sandwich.

2. The Birds & The Beets: A wonderful green and cosy place with great miso bowls, kombucha and an neat place to escape the rain. The owners Matt, Sean and Francis are also super lovely people.

3. Sushi! Taking this moment to thank the abundance of Japanese food in Vancouver considering I have Japanese five days out of seven. My favourites: Toshi(authentic little nook but expect a line), Samurai(best brown rice sushi with great pieces of sashimi) and Miku(nice place to take your parents).

Beaches

4. English Bay: I spent a summer living in an apartment five minutes away from the water. To this day it remains my favourite summer filled with memories of the Honda Celebration of Light, countless evenings watching the sunsets and picnics by the water.

5. Whytecliff Park: This is probably my favourite place to visit and get out of the city. The seals, porpoises and view of Vancouver Island will never fail to take your breath away. Plan your visit around low tide so you get to climb on the giant rock in the park that leads to a most promising view.

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Minimalist piers at White Rock Beachwhite_rock_beach_gelato-1.jpg
You cannot visit White Rock without getting gelato or Fish & Chips

6. White Rock Beach: This beach is located further out in Surrey but a must visit if you love minimalist beaches and handmade Italian gelato by the pier.

Arts and shopping

7. Vancouver Art Gallery: A smaller gallery than I am used to but hello it’s art! Tuesday evenings are pay by donation if you are on a travel budget. The gallery cafe offers live music in the summer with a delightful patio and garden.

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The irresistible selection of baked goods from Beaucoup Bakery in South Granville

8. Main Street/Mount Pleasant Area: A neat area filled with restaurants, bakeries and cafes(Le Marché St George and Liberty Bakery are my favourites) and boutique shops. Plan to spend at least half a day here. 

9. Gastown: Have to put this one down because it is a tourist must. Great places for coffee like Timbertrain, Revolver. Spend your night at The Diamond for cocktails and Old Faithful Shop for nice things. Skip the steam clock. 

10. Chinatown! I had a season where I was addicted to chicken buns and egg tarts at New Town Bakery, white space at Sun Yet San Garden, pick me ups at Matchstick Coffee and the best ramen with squash and miso broth you can possibly get at Harvest Community.

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Summer sailboats at Whytecliff Park

So here is to travel. To places where you discover or lose a little more of yourself and to journeys that make you appreciate the comforts of home.

All photos here by me. Photo of me by Isabel

Gratitude

FullSizeRenderSunset at Lions Bay – moments before I jumped off a 50 feet cliff and got covered in barnacles scratches and a heart filled with adrenaline. We stayed out till midnight and watched the water light up with bioluminescent plankton. It was one of those moments where you feel really alive and actually want to tuck away your camera to enjoy the moment.

Tonight as I’m typing out this post I’ve just moved into a new apartment, picked up my visa for India, sent off prints to the print shop and I’m eating fresh mochi from a friend that dropped me off to my new home. It’s beautiful, bright and everything I ever imagined in one of the nicest places in the world.

I can look back on this week and think of all the friends that I have around me, people I got to meet, events I attended and the satisfaction I have everyday from working for something I’m passionate about and believe in.

I’m so excited thinking of the next few months of travel. Places I go and things I see that break my heart a little and make me appreciate how human I am. I can’t wait to see the photos I’m going to take, people that will leave footprints in my life and pieces of history that’s bound to make me small and powerful at the same time.

At the end of the day, I am just thankful—for work, an education, things that kick my bum and motivate to learn and be a better human, opportunities to be more authentic and fearless and days to look forward to. I don’t know where I’ll be without my community. And of course the little things that make the days sweet and beautiful.

Here is to the next season of exploring the unknown and moving onward. 38 days till India!

Summer in Vancouver

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English Bay, the place of pretty sunsets

This coming month marks three years of me being in Canada. Three crazy years of going down this creative journey that’s often crazy but always fun.

I’m at this season where I feel happily overwhelmed by life and work and it’s kind of amazing. If you ask me a thousand times why I take photos I will say it’s because the world is beautiful and that there are many stories waiting to be told.

I like about how nice it is to be alive and living in a place where I have the liberty to create and write about things that matter. I hope to never take these things for granted.

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The summer is being very wonderful and I am loving all the light it brings. So much colour and time to shoot and see. And you know it’s precious because it doesn’t stick around 🙂
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Here are a few shots from my neighbourhood, city and portraits of lovley people.

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Light and shadows – this is my favourite balcony in Vancouver
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And because it is nice to share  – here are a few books I’m currently loving:  Rework by Jason Fried(great left brain strategy for creatives), A Wilder Life (Good book with plant solutions for daily life) and Miss Peregrine’s home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I’ve always been inspired by children books and writers since I’m making my own. I’m trying read every book I can get my hands on—they’re great. Miss Peregrine will be coming out in theatre and of course anything directed by Tim Burton is a must see.
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If you’re looking for me – I will be by the beach.english_bay
Here’s to a wonderful summer!

Photo of me by Michiko
Pants and Black Lace Espadrilles from Zara
Stripe Top from Joe Fresh
Beach Blanket from Scout and Catalogue

Lorraine Sui – A Photo Shoot

One of the best feelings in the world are those moments of serendipity where you find yourself working with people you met years ago in coffee shops.

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This campaign was shot with Flowmarq for Lorraine Sui – a mom and daughter team who came together through their love for fashion and designed this adorable collection of bags for the everyday girl.

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 I got to meet the mother and daughter Judy and Natalie on the day of the shoot and learned that the bags are actually a creative result of Natalie’s journey with Autism.
Despite their challenges – Judy fully embraces her daughter’s neurodiversity and believes in her ability to create and come up with practical solutions for daily life. The bags are designed practically but meant to inspire and encourage you to live colourfully and to live out loud.
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This project was themed around color and playfulness and we had a lot of fun putting together ideas, location scouting, prop shopping, juice drinking and working with models in crazy hot weather even for Vancouver.

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 It’s those moments you have in your career where you plan and edit way into the night with too many glasses of wine but there’s no other work you’d rather be doing even though you’re always sleep deprived. It was fun.
I might have taken too many selfies during the day but I’m glad to step out the comfort of a studio and work with a team that puts much effort into executing a creative vision. It’s really rewarding watching your creative ability expand as you work with other people. Judy and Natalie are looking to open a shop in Gastown, Vancouver and I am stoked for them every step of the way.
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 Till next time.
Models: Kirstyn and Caylene
Art direction + photography: Me
Makeup: Winnie wu
In partnership with: Flowmarq
Special thanks to our friends at: The Juice Truck

Croissants, Photos and Farewell to Summer

Here are photos from a recent shoot with Bakery Sate– a little French bakery and cafe in the Vancouver.

They have the most heavenly selection of croissants. Butter, chocolate, almond, double baked almond, matcha, cheese..everything you can think of that goes with a croissant.

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I love going through the process of planning every shoot – set up, tear down, working for the right lighting and composition. It’s a thrill being able to come up with ideas and finding a way to make them come alive.

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It’s also immensely satisfying getting to eat your work after.

Can you believe that summer is already over?

Looking forward to the change in season, not too stoked about the Vancouver rain but am excited to work with the different array of moods and colours.

Hope everyone’s had a great summer.

How To Make Alpaca Curry – A Tutorial

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The beautiful thing about art is that it connects you with creatives from all sorts of different backgrounds. The best thing about being an artist is having creative ideas and people to carry those ideas out with.

Today on the blog, we have jewellery and graphic designer Foe and dear, Fox and flourish and me (or rather – a deer, a fox and a hedgehog)

Creative people you know, whom when put together, are bound to make awesome things happen.

Enough said. You will need:

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Kastu Curry *2
Nori Sheet
Hard-boiled eggs *2
Bow Pasta
Toothpicks to assemble

*I used store bought curry from the ZAC・ZAC  Japanese Curry House because this post is about alpacas, not making curry. They also have great customer service and will kindly separate the ingredients, give you unsliced katsu and a thumbs up when you tell them you are making alpacas.

Instructions:

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Peel eggs and slice a thin oval from the side for the alpaca face and tail. Cut nori sheet for eyes, nose, mouth and assemble onto egg face with pincers/toothpicks.

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Create an alpaca shape with rice on plate. Be mindful of hungry studio animals.

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Assemble decorative ingredients onto your Alpaca and pour curry sauce around the rice.

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There you have it! Alpacas for everyone. It’s not everyday that you get to eat Alpacas for lunch.

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Many thanks to Katherine and Christina for sharing your beautiful studio and your brilliant minds.

Also, a shout out to Margo the dog for being the best dog model. Even though you didn’t get any alpacas.

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The End