Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Guu on Denman

Late night dinners in the West End are actually much more difficult than one might assume. Not only is Denman street riddled with falsely posted hours, Robson street has a serious drop in quality places to eat after midnight. After being turned away at the door at our favourite Japanese place on Denman, we decided to go to Guu. And I'm glad we did.

After several visits to Guu on Denman, I think I can say with relatively high confidence that its my new favourite Japanese restaurant. For those of you who are unfamiliar - assuming a Vancouverite who doesn't know of Guu even exists - Guu is a chain of Japanese tapas grills that are found all over downtown Vancouver. Each restaurant has its own menu, and I would suggest to check them all out.

The first thing we did was order a couple of drinks; Cassishu soda, and Blue Bell. The name of the Cassishu soda should give away that the primary flavour comes from Creme de Cassis; a black courant flavoured liqueur. It reminds me of a Kir Royal, but with a Japanese twist. Instead of champagne, they use sake and soda water. Which effectively mimics the Kir Royal - as I'm sure was the intention of the drink's crafter.

The Blue Bell on the other hand is a simple vodka based cocktail, flavoured with lychee juice and a hint of bitter orange in the form of Blue Bols. The overwhelming flavour in the drink comes from tonic. In my opinion the drink has far too much tonic covering up the other flavours and making it feel simply like a vodka tonic with a few drops of bitters.

We kept it relatively simple and ordered only a couple of things off of the tapas menu - octopus and eggplant - and that night's special; whelk.

I wasn't sure what whelk was so we asked. Our server explained that it was a type of clam. When it arrived we saw that it was actually snail - which is okay for me as I love escargot. Language barriers at ethnically foreign restaurants can be a problem at times, but in this case it worked out. The dish was so good we ordered two more. And the dish itself was relatively simple. Grilled 'whelk' on a bed of salt.

The tapas were just as good. We'd had the eggplant before as its a mainstay on all of the Guu menus. Sliced into long and thin pieces, and served in a specially crafted Japanese sauce, its one of those things we keep ordering every time. The octopus is served much how you'd expect. With finely minced green onion, and diced red onion.

We had one more drink before leaving. The peach oolong; which we sipped while finishing the second helping of whelk. The drink was made from shochu, peach extract and oolong tea. In other words, a great after dinner night cap. The drink is inexplicably Japanese. Whether you're a tea junkie, coinnoseur of foreign spirits, or just a lover of all things Far East, then you'll like it.

All in all, this recent visit to Guu on Denman was perfect. But then, it always is.

Blue bell
- vodka
- lychee juice
- bols blue
- tonic

Cassishu soda
- creme de cassis
- soda
- sake

Peach oolong
- shochu
- peach extract
- oolong tea

Thursday, September 5, 2013

If you could change one thing...

When asked "if you could change one thing about yourself, what would you changed?" There is no hesitation as to what my answer would be.

For the past five years (give or take a year), I've been suffering with extremely bad asthma. In between breaths of fresh air, I often wonder how this will effect my lifespan. I've always had asthma, but it became considerably worse in my early twenties. Trips to my mother's for the holidays had me walking out the door gagging, and eventually purging as I stumbled home, just two blocks away. Later, I was in a permanent Benadryl induced high as I tried to curb the effects of my roommate's cat. And later still, I would have to be rushed to clinics and the ER where I would receive emergency treatment.

I had asthma attacks when I was younger too though. My adolescence and youth was characterized by y state of perma-sniffles, due to pollen. As my animal allergies materialized, I would get occasional sniffles and discomfort around animals. The asthma attacks started, though, at 16. My first major asthma attack was at Christmas.

Prior to that, I lived with my aunt in my grandparent's family home. She smoked quite heavily, but it never seemed to be a problem. Until she moved closer to work. My presumption is that, having lived among smokers my entire life, my body adjusted to being in a constantly toxic atmosphere. It became good at defending itself perhaps. Second hand smoke never bothered me, but after my aunt moved out, whenever she came to visit I would have tightness of the chest. One Christmas, we had an abnormal amount of family members visit us for the holidays. Older, smoking family members. My chest became heavy and I developed a bad headache - likely from coughing. I spent the rest of the night in my room and wasn't much better for two days.

The asthma attacks would pop up once in awhile after that, but didn't reach their current severity till I was around 22. After that the attacks have been a constant frustration in my life. Between ventilin, pulmicort, Benadryl and hot cups of coffee, I've tried to live with it as best as possible. Recently I've begun the Paleolithic diet after reading another asthmatic blogger's success story. There hasn't been much improvement yet but I hope to see improvements in time.

My ideal solution would be to find a long term treatment that would reduce my attacks to nothing. To achieve this I would be willing to make a complete lifestyle change - if going on the Paleo-diet were any indication of that.
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