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Hoping the weather turns nice for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade tomorrow.  Here is our gang from last year holding up our parade dragon.

We have always had a Gung Haggis Fat Choy entry… in the annual Celticfest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  It was back at the 2004 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner that one of the organizers asked me to put together an entry.

“What kind of entry would you like?” I queried.

“Something multicultural…”

“How about a dragon boat?” I asked, without realizing how much work it would be.

For the next 3 years, I would arrange to put a Taiwanese dragon boat on a trailer, and borrow or rent a truck to haul the trailer…  and then one year… I had a flat tire on the trailer…

The next year, I was in Chinatown, and on an impulse… I bought a 5 person parade dragon.  So we have always had different kinds of dragons in the parade…. parade dragon… dragon puppets… even a dragon boat… This is an article from last year’s parade. http://www.gunghaggis.com/2013/03/20/6508/

Our group is entry number 64 of 74 entries.  We meet at the marshalling area on the West side of the Granville St. Bridge – close to mid-span.  We meet at 10am, Our car/float will be in place by 9:30am.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at 11am. It will follow the same route as in 2013, beginning on Howe and Davie, proceeding north along Howe to Georgia, and ending at Georgia & Granville Streets.

“Festival organizers estimate crowds exceeding 200,000 will line the route to cheer on 2000+ parade participants, which they anticipate will include award-winning pipe and drum bands, Celtic musicians, Scottish and Irish dancers, acrobats, stilt walkers, vintage cars, the Vancouver police motorcycle drill team and pipe band, fire and police dogs,  mounted horse drill teams, multi-cultural organizations and performers, local businesses, distinguished guests and many more.”  http://www.celticfestvancouver.com/parade.php

Global Weekend News – Lynn and Jay go Gung Haggis Fat Choy!

Global Weekend News – March 15th,

Thanks to Global News for having me as “chef” this morning. I brought some some pre-cooked haggis dim sum from Floata Restaurant, that are used as an appetizer dish for our Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

I showed hosts Lynn and Jay how to fold haggis & prawns won ton, but the wrappings were a bit too small and dry.  But they really enjoyed tasting the haggis & prawns dumplings that I had picked up from Floata Restaurant the night before.  Re-heated dim sum… mmmm…. yum….

This dinner is a fundraiser, for Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop / Ricepaper Magazine, and for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  We serve a full Chinese banquet dinner with traditional haggis + fusion haggis cuisine.  About half the dishes are vegetarian, including hot & sour soup, turnip cake, deep-fried spicy tofu, and buddhist feast.

And Robbie Burns poetry is featured in many different forms… We are very pleased to feature Victoria Poet Janet Marie Rogers to read Pauline Johnson poetry, as well as her own spoken word poetry.  Our featured Asian-Canadian author is Janie Chang, just nominated for a BC Book Prize for fiction for her novel Three Souls.  Brandon Gabriel will read a poem by his great grandfather William Slepass, a Kwantlen First Nations Chief.

Featured musical performers are Silk Road Music’s Qiu Xia He and Andrew Thibault – who were featured in the CBC television special Gung Haggis Fat Choy in 2004.  Celtic accordionist Amy Stephen will bring her husband Amir Haghighi for a special treat – perhaps combining Celtic music with Persian music for a St. Patrick’s Day Persian New Year fusion.

And of course, we have lots of great raffle prizes from Vancouver Opera, City Opera, Firehall Arts Centre, Harbour Publishing, Tradewind Books, Arsenal Pulp Press, Dr. Sen Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens and more!

Tickets for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year St. Patrick’s Day Dinner… Sunday March 16th, Floata Restaurant, Vancouver Chinatown – can still be bought today online at Ricepaper.ca and Gunghaggis.com http://www.flickr.com/photos/53803790@N00/sets/72157642392921354/

2014 Gung Haggis dinner taste-testing

Spicy Jelly fish (centre), pan-fried turnip cake (left), steamed haggis & shrimp har-gow (top), vegetarian spring rolls (right).

Wednesday March 12 – we always have a taste-testing dinner to make sure the food meets our expectations. This is especially important when the kitchen doesn’t normally cook with haggis, and we are aiming for something special for our guests. This year, the kitchen was more adventurous, and made us 3 different haggis dim sum dishes. Haggis & pork shu-mei, steamed haggis & prawns har-gow dumplings, and the shanghai styled haggis & prawns won ton dumplings.

Inside the delicious Gung Haggis dim sum are: prawn meat, green onions, water chestnut, diced carrots, haggis + secret ingredients!

Traditional haggis, is served with a vegetarian lettuce wrap.

Buddhist Feast with fun-see noodles (rice vermicelli)

Mongolian Beef with Broccoli

 

missing from pictures: Hot & Sour soup, vegetariam lettuce wrap, mango pudding and sesame cookie things

Purchase dinner event tickets online here:

Gung Haggis Fat Choy – March 16, 2014 Tickets, Vancouver

https://www.eventbrite.ca/…/gunghaggis-fat-choy-march-16-2014ticket

50 pounds of haggis – ready to be transformed into Chinese cuisine!

50 pounds of Haggis, that I picked from custom haggis maker Bruce Roane this morning.  It is now delivered to Floata Restaurant in Vancouver Chinatown where it will be readied and served with for sweet ‘n’sour sauce and/or BBQ plum sauce, for Sunday’s Gung Haggis Fat Choy St. Patrick’s Weekend Dinner.  And it is going to be served both traditional style, and also transformed into Chinese dim sum appetizers!

For 2014, we are featuring Bruce Roane’s custom haggis.  You won’t find it easily anywhere.  You have to track Bruce down… and custom order – if you want some of the best haggis around.

Back in 2009, I was attending a reception at the Scottish Parliament Buildings, for the final event of 2009 Year of Homecoming.  My friend Harry McGrath who had organized the exhibit “This is Who We Are” which featured a life size picture of me, was just about to introduce me to the First Minister Alex Salmond, who earlier that day had just helped to re-open the renovated and reimagined Robert Burns Cottage, down in Alloway, Ayrshire County.  But a pretty blonde woman, burst into the line up, saying “Excuse me, but I have to meet you.  My uncle makes the best haggis in Vancouver, and you have to meet him for your Gung Haggis Fat Choy event.”

Well… I admit that I didn’t use Bruce Roane’s haggis for the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.

But at the 2010 BC Highland Games, I had a booth for Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  And a pretty blonde woman came up my booth and said “Hi, remember me, we met in Scotland.”

In the past years, I have eaten Bruce Roane’s haggis at Burns Suppers for the Robert Burns Society of Vancouver, and the JP Fell Pipe Band.  With my friends, and many people, there are lively discussions on the quality of the haggis.  Some people love a Peter Black haggis, which we have used for the past 10 years.  Some people “dinna like it”.  Some people love a Bruce Roane haggis – others “dinna like it, either”.

My opinion: It’s a good haggis, and I like it.  And it’s going to be served at the 2014 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year St. Patrick’s Day Dinner on March 16th.

And it is going to be magically transformed into tasty deep-fried haggis won ton, and delicately prepared haggis dim sum…  and people will rave to their friends, “Wow – you have to taste this!”

Also on the menu will be: Chinese pan-fried turnip cake (low-bak-goh) and steamed haggis & pork dumplings (siu-mei), served alongside spicy jelly fish. 

 

Vancouver Opera’s Don Giovanni brings out the Italian in everybody

Just call me Todderico Wongiovanni.   I felt very Italian attending the Vancouver Opera’s Don Giovanni opera on March 1st.  Mozart is always very accessible, and I have always remembered the Commendatore Scene from both the play and movie Amadeus.  “Don Giovanni” – the ghost of the commendatore sings… in baritone.

This story is based on the womanizing character of Don Juan/Don Giovanni, performed on different nights by Daniel Okulitch and Brett Polegato.  On Opening night Okulitch was a perfect rake, playing women against each other, lying with deceit, and masterminding his selfish games for his own purpose.

The other principal roles of Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, as well as the Commendatore (Donna Anna’s father) are also all played by double performers.  On opening night Erin Wall and Krisztina Szabo were brilliant in their seductions and seductee roles.

The highlight of this opera is the set design with multiple projections that easily and quickly tranform a castle ballroom into an outside street scene and back again.  The creative figures of statues and use of angles give an imaginative depth of field.

Inventive was also the use of a walkway surrounding the orchestra pit, that allowed the performers to come closer to the audience and give more room for staging.  It really felt more intimate with the four lead singers standing so close to the audience and singing, However, the orchestra seemed more muffled, and less brilliant in sound quality.

For the last decade, we have expected and received nothing less than perfection from Vancouver Opera.  This production is the first exception. The singers and orchestra were grand, of course, but the staging left a lot to be desired.  Having the stage extend out into the audience and around the orchestra pit created the difficulty of having the singers have to project even farther over the pit and stage. This created some balance problems where the singers were hard to hear, and the orchestra sounded small and muted. The Opera has been experimenting recently with “audience engagement.” They have brought in performers before the shows to mingle with the audience, and have a photographer at the entrance for guests to create a souvenir of the evening, and for the Opera to use in future promotions and on social media. Look at us, were having a great night out!

The images were spectacular, but could also be distracting. A night out at the opera is always an evening to be celebrated.  The roles were well cast, and the story, while long, did not drag. VO is to becongratulated for the exceptional quality of the shows, and their attempts to stay modern and relevant in the 21st century.  I truly appreciate the way they are reaching out to new audiences and taking chances on commissions and unusual programming.

 

What happens when Gung Haggis Fat Choy celebrates St. Patrick’s Day?

What Happens when you celebrate the Pioneer cultures and history of BC all together in one night?

What Happens when you celebrate Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner on St. Patrick’s Day Weekend with First Nations’ iconic poet Pauline Johnson?

March 16th, Sunday
5pm doors open
6pm event starts
Floata Restaurant
450 Keefer St.
Vancouver Chinatown (free parking)
Adults $65
students $55
children $35
Reserved Tables of 10 $650 – includes bottle of wine at your table!
For 2014, the date was moved to March 16th, and we are going to also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and First Nations culture and history, in this Year of Reconciliation in the City of Vancouver.
Did you know that the first Premier of BC, was born in Ireland?  John Foster McCreight was born in Caledon, County Tyrone.  Caledon also means “from Scotland”.
The most iconic First Nations poet of Canadian history has to be Pauline Johnson, (also known in Mohawk as Tekahionwake. She was a late 19th Century Canadian writer and performer that traveled across Canada.
We will continue to celebrate the fusion of the Scottish Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year cultures and traditions, to recognize the fist non-native cultural pioneers of this province.  The Scots came from the Far East, across the Atlantic, as the first White explorers, such as Alexander Mackenzie and Simon Fraser.  And the Chinese traveled from the Far West across the Pacific, first as Buddhist Monks, identifying a land to the East of China as “Fusang”.
Every year we celebrate with a mix of culinary cuisine featuring deep-fried haggis wonton and haggis dim sum, as well as traditional haggis served with Chinese vegetarian lettuce wrap.

Our music and poetry features both traditional, contemporary and fusion.  This year we feature:

  • Victoria Poet Laureate Janet Marie Roger, who is also of Mohawk ancestry – just like Pauline Johnson, and will perform her own spoken word poetry as well as work by Pauline Johnson. 

  • Chinese-Canadian author Janie Chang will bring us a special story.  Her new novel Three Souls is #2 on the Asian-American best sellers list in the USA, right behind Amy Tan.

  • Celtic storyteller Mary Gavan will regale us with amazing stories of Celtic songs and Robert Burns.

  • Silk Road Music Ensemble, led by Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault will bring their mix of the traditional Chinese, Celtic and world music.  They were featured in the 2004 tv performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy”

  • Amy Stephen, celtic accordionist with Mad Pudding and Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra, will also bring her magic fingers and songs.

  • Kwantlen First Nations artist Brandon Gabriel, also brings his Chinese and Scottish ancestry into his contemporary artistic life.  He will read a poem from his great great grandfather, one of the first First Nations poets.

  • Co-hosts are Chirish sibilings of Chinese and Irish ancestry, broadcaster Margaret Gallagher and actor Patrick Gallagher.

  • Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pipes & Drums will bring their unique fusion and musical surprises!

Gung Hay Fat Choy – Happy Chinese Lunar New Year – Year of the Horse

Chine brush stroke picture of Horse, painted by my father – photo Todd Wong

I am descended from horses. My mother’s maiden name is Mar. My maternal grandfather was Sunny Mar, who paid the Chinese Head Tax, prior to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma_%28surname%29

en.wikipedia.org

Ma (simplified Chinese: 马; traditional Chinese: 馬; pinyin: Mǎ) is one of the mosSee more
Here is a bronze replica of the famous “Horse Galloping on Flying Swallow” – that I brought back from my 1993 trip to China. http://arts.cultural-china.com/en/30Arts385.html

This is one of my favorite pieces of art.  I first saw it in 1976 on a poster in my High School English 11 teacher’s classroom.  When I found bronze replicas at the Shaanxi Province Museum in Xi’an, China – I had to bring one home.

“Among China’s various craft masterpieces, Bronze Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow 马踏飞燕 is unique with its splendid designs and is a classical work of Chinese ancient aesthetics.

“Bronze Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow was unearthed in 1969 in the Leitai Tomb of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) in Wuwei County, Gansu Province. The bronze statue is a famous representative sculpture of the Han Dynasty. Wuwei County leapt to fame with the discovery of this national treasure.”

 

 

 

The Robbie Burns Poetry Marathon Reading at SFU Downtown

Here is Alma Lee, founder of the Vancouver International Writers Festival at the 2013 Burns Poetry Marathon Reading – photo Todd Wong

Happy Robbie Burns Day Eve… Join me tomorrow for the Burns Poetry Marathon Reading… 11am at the Burns Statue in Stanley Park with bagpiper Thomas Budd

Then at 12pm at SFU Downtown – where we will Rap the Address to the Haggis!

You can register to read a Burns Poem and join the fun:

http://www.scottish.sfu.ca/sfus_robert_burns_marathon

We did the inaugural Burns Marathon reading two years ago in 2012 – Here is my blog story http://www.gunghaggis.com/2012/01/26/marathon-poetry-reading-of-robbie-burns-poetry-sfu-harbour-centre/

Here is Leith Davies, director of the Centre for Scottish Studies SFU, Teresa King (descendant of Robert Burns), and me!

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner postponed to March 16th

ANNOUNCEMENT – Dinner Post-poned to March 16th
Floata Restaurant, #400 – 180 Keefer St.
details to be confirmed.

Sorry to inconvenience everybody – but logistics and health have forced this difficult decision.

It is St. Patrick’s Day Weekend – so we will be inclusive of Irish, Chinese, Scottish and First Nations cultures for a reinvigorated Gung Haggis Fat Choy that will celebrate our province’s pioneer history and the cultural fusion of today’s diversity.

I will follow up with our guests – and we will have something special for your patronage and support.

– Tickets available online at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/gung-haggis-fat-choy-2014-tickets-9215956173

Cheers, Todd

Here is a picture of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team on St. Patrick’s Day 2013 – for the Celtic Fest St. Patrick’s Day parade.

2014 dinner menu for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

Every year we switch up some of the dishes for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner 

We pay attention to what we ate last year, what fits with the performance themes.  January 31, will welcome the Year of the Horse – and NO – we will not have horse meat.  But Horses will fit into the literary theme…  How about some Beef?

Half the dishes are vegetarian including: turnip cake appetizer, vegetarian hot and sour soup, lettuce wrap, buddha’s feast + efu long life noodles.  Meat dishes will be fish, chicken and a beef dish, + traditional haggis.  Our specialty appetizer items are deep-fried haggis & shrimp won ton, and haggis & pork su-mei dumplings… but we are considering bringing back spring rolls in place of the bbq pork.

This is the appetizer platter: Spicy jellyfish (center), , Lo-Bak-Goh turnip cake (front), BBQ pork (right) and haggis & pork shu-mei dumplings (left).  Delicious!  My great-grandmother always used to make the turnip cakes for me – to this day, they are one of my favorite dim sum dishes!

Our famous Haggis & shrimp Wonton dumplings! Utterly tasty…. It is one of our mentor Jim Wong-Chu’s favorite items on the menu that he looks forward to tasting each year.  Last year, we had accordionist Lewis Kane, fresh from Scotland attend out taste-test dinner. We asked Lewis to try one… to see if a real Scottish person would eat it.  And… he LIKED it…. he said it was real good… and that they should do this in Scotland!  HA!  Score one for Canada!

Last year we had Winter Melon soup… would be a staple if winter melons grew in Scotland.  Sublime in flavour, delicately balanced with mushrooms, cucumbers, carrots and lots of other good things. But… for 2014, we will return to a traditional Hot & Sour Soup – because the word “Sour” is very similarly spelled to the word “soul” – and good soul food always feels filling… and we are featuring author Janie Chang, whose new book is titled “Three Souls” – so we will have a Hot and Sour Soul Soup.  Nice alliteration, eh?

Here is the best way to eat haggis…  take a spoonful of haggis and add it to the Chinese vegetarian lettuce wrap.  Very tasty – just like a hamburger without the bun.  Remember to put lots of Chinese Hoi-sin bbq sauce inside.

Last year we had Steamed salmon – flavoured with hot oil and ginger, and topped with chives and cilantro.  This was one of the original dishes that I had personally prepared at the original Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner backin 1998.  So mouth-watering good… it melts in your mouth.

Buddhist’s feast is a traditional New Year’s dish, with lots of vegetables and bamboo shoots and mushrooms and Chinese funghi.  We figured if we are making Chinese people eat haggis, the Scottish people can eat Chinese funghi.  Afterall… it is considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine.

This is traditional crispy skin chicken, served with shrimp chips.  They are always very tasty – and not greasy like American style deep-fried chicken from KFC and elsewhere.

Mogolian Beef – tasty sauce over slabs of beef.  The mongols had an empire that covered all of Asia and extended into Eastern Europe.  They were fierce warriors because of their horsemanship skills.  See… I told you I would work in the Year of the Horse theme somewhere…

E-fu noodles… these are lovely textured egg-based noodles, and also traditional at Chinese banquets.  Not the regular chow mein noodles many people associate with Chinese take-out.  This is one of my favorite dishes, and the long noodles symbolize good wishes for long life.

And then there is dessert…. need we say more than two words?  Mango pudding.

But please note – menu is subject to change… as availability and freshness is important to us.

The dinner event WAS originally set for Sunday January 26th – but NOW POSTPONED to Sunday March 16th, 2014

– Tickets available online at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/gung-haggis-fat-choy-2014-tickets-9215956173