Starting the Easter weekend in Vernon: Visiting Betty McChan and Helmut's Sausage Kitchen

Here I am, back in Vernon, or more specifically Coldstream for the 2009 Easter weekend.  My girlfriend Deb and I drove up yesterday to spend some time with her parents and their border collie dogs.

It was a long tiring trip through the light rain, light snow on the Coquihalla and Connector highways.  Thankfully, there wasn't a snow storm.  We didn't get the big windstorm that hit Vancouver, but there were moderate winds pushing the car along the highways.  Lots of Canadian content on the cd player including Michael Buble's “Live at Madison Square Garden”, Bruce Cockburn's live solo album “Slice O Life” and Gordon Lightfoot's “Gord's Gold.”  After hearing that Lightfoot had re-written his lyrics of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, I have decided to write new lyrics to his classic “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” to include a Chinese-Canadian perspective.  Maybe I will call it Chinese-Canadian Railroad Trilogy or Chinese-Canadian Railroad Tragedy… we will see how it pans out.

One of the first things I did upon arriving at “The In-Laws” was to pet all the doggies greeting our arrival.  Val literally jumps on me, trying to lick my face, while the younger dog Tess simply brings me a pine cone to throw for her.  Finally, she has somebody to throw pine cones for her again.  Definitely a “fetchit” dog! 

Next I walk down to private dock that sits on Kalamalka Lake.  It's a beautiful lake, nicknamed the “Lake of Many Colours”.  I am hoping to do some paddling this weekend in canoe or kayak.  But now, it's time to socialize, catch up on news, then have a great dinner. 

After dinner, we fall asleep watching Disney's “The Princess and the Frog” .  Darn – I had really been looking forward to the movie, with its portrayal of jazzy cajun spiced New Orleans, and its inaugural debut of African-American characters and culture.  Maybe it is too politically correctly sanitized, or stereotypically traditional, or maybe my sense of disbelief cannot be suspended.  A talking firefly that survives multiple hits, and never becomes bug splat?

Saturday, I wake up to the heavy splashing of white capped waves on Kalamalka Lake.  No kayaking today.  I joke that maybe I could take a kayak out and surf the waves to Alexander's Pub, and somebody could come pick me up.  No takers.  Chances of being cold and wet are high, and I dislike the combination terribly.

There are no dim sum restaurants in Vernon.  Too bad…. but I have a wonderful lunch date with Betty “McChan” and her husband Don.  Betty is a former Canadian National Highland Dance Champion…. and she is Chinese-Canadian.  The picture I saw of her, was an archival copy of Chinatown News from the late 1950's.  I first met Betty in 2006 when she came to Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  This past New Year's was the first time we visisted in Vernon.  We have a wonderful chat about Gung Haggis Fat Choy, local Vernon Viper hockey, Larry Kwong the first Chinese Canadian to play in the NHL, dim sum, tai chi, and whether or not Betty will borrow, hire or purchase a Chinese Lion dance costume. 

For our first visit to Betty's place, just after New Year's, she had made a wonderful classic Cantonese style Won Ton soup.  This time it was her husband Don in the kitchen.  He made a delicious omelette with a side dish of corned beef hash brown potatoes.  Spontaneously, I asked if he had ever made a haggis hash.  He hadn't, but he liked the idea.  I told him about the a capella group The No Shit Shirleys who had performed at the 2006 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner, and how whenever the group performs their version of Mo Li Hua (Jasmine Flower) they tell the story about haggis-fried rice that they had at the dinner.  They thought it was soooo delicious.  Betty and Don had attended that dinner and they thought The Shirleys were wonderful performers, and the fried rice was good too!

On my way back to my Vernon home-base, I spot the Vernon Sausage Company, and it's delicatessen Helmut's Sausage Kitchen.  I have tasted some of Oyama Sausage at Salt Tasting Room in Vancouver, and decide to purchase some local tastes for tonight's appetizer plate.  I select a few slices of the Soppressata salami, Prosciutto Westphalia,
Bauern schinken (a cured beef), 1 slice of the huge corned beef, and 6 slices each of the Helmut's
Farmer Salami and the Kirsch-Salami.  I also pick some cheeses: Provolone,
Smoked Gruyere, and Smoked Gouda.
  The meats only cost me $3.12… wow!  It's a wonderful cured meat and cheese platter.  Everybody is complimentary.  And much cheaper than going to Salt Restaurant, but without the incredible comfits and sauces that they match to their platters.  I eat so much that I don't have as much room for the wonderful turkey dinner we have. 

Hmmm…. did I use the word “wonderful” too many times.  I like my visits to Vernon.

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