Winter Solstice Eve Dinner at the Cheshire Cheese Inn

Do people celebrate Winter Solstice Eve?

They celebrate Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, All Hallow's Eve aka Halloween.  Personally I like to celebrate Birthday Eve, and with the right person… Valentine's Eve.

Yesterday evening, I went Christmas shopping with my girlfriend.  Alas, she has been late shopping because she was very busy planning the two date concert tour for the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra that she manages.  The self-admitted “stress bunny” was dreading going into the Christmas crowds, so I volunteered to go shopping with her and help her de-stress from both the road trip and shopping.  In return, my fabulous girlfriend decided to take me for dinner at the Cheshire Cheese Inn in the Vancouver neighborhood of  Kerrisdale – a generally very conservative and well-to-do area of Vancouver. While there are a few Chinese restaurants – I haven't seen any Chinese bakeries, butcher shops or supermarkets, yet.

Kerrisdale still retains it's British roots, especially with shops and restaurants like the Cheshire Cheese Inn.  As soon as you approach this establishment, you can tell there is a “pub” like ambience.  There is patio for the folks who still like to smoke.  Walk through the recessed front doors, and window bays greet you on either side – for an old english pub type feel. (How I now miss my 1980's nights spent down at the Windsor Arms Hotel's “Rose & Crowne Pub” that had actually recreated an English street scene complete with street signs, and windows, and brick paving… but I digress).

I looked about the restaurant, and noticed all the patrons appeared to be of British stock, except the table immediately near the entrance with 3 Chinese people (maybe they had been born in England, or Hong Kong, and missed the English ambience).  I half expected the waitress to speak with an accent reminescent of “Upstairs Downstairs,” “Fawty Towers,” or any of the British comedies.  But alas, she spoke in a very Canadian accent, and wore very Canadian clothing with low riders and a top that couldn't get tucked into her pants – oh but that's not the style anymore is it?

The first thing my girlfriend asked the waitress was if they had Strongbow on tap.  She is a fan of the English apple cider.  Funny, that she doesn't ask for BC Okanagan cider, since she was raised in the OK valley.  Opening the menu was a veritable culture relevation for me.  Here were traditional English dinners such as “bangers and mash” – no definitions provided – but I have learned it is sausages with mashed potatoes.  Also on the menu were minced pies, Shepherd's Pie (containing absolutely no shepherd in it to my grave disappoinment), and fish and chips (Ah… fish and chips… with vinegar… with Ling Cod… a Vancouver tradition on the disappearing species list).

I chose the dinner special of roast chicken with vegetables and mash, also served with a vegetable barley soup (gee… almost as good as the beef barley soup my mother used to make – why would my 4th generation Chinese Canadian mother make us beef barley soup?  I think she learned all these recipes from her father – who worked in an English restaurant in Vancouver).  My girlfriend ordered a burger with fries, that we dipped in my gravy for my mashed potatoes.

By incredible chance, a young man with tousled blonde hair came over to wish my girlfriend Merry Christmas.  He was one of the percussion players of the VYSO, and he was being treated out to dinner by his grandparents for his birthday.  He raved about the VYSO tour which had played in Victoria and Courtney/Comox.  Courtney had been particularly enthusiastic for the VYSO concert.  Over 400 people filled their small hall compared to the 165 audience members in the BC's Capitol city of Victoria.  The VYSO in Courtney, was THE BIG SHOW in town for everybody.  I did suggest to the VYSO manager, sitting across from me that perhaps the VYSO should build up an annual tradition to hold concerts in Courtney and Nanaimo for the future.

Anyways… this young and talented 17 year old musician commented about how he was able to meet people in the orchestra that he hadn't previously met before.  He spoke about how excited he was to get to blow the ferry's horn during the ferry passage, as well as how much fun it was to spend so many social hours with his orchestrat mates, parents and friends.  He gave Deb a big hug and thanked her for all her hard work for the VYSO.  And so, with my girlfriend happy that all her hard work really helped to make a very fun experience for the kids of the VYSO, she finished her Strongbow, and decompressed some more…

for other adventures in Vancouver's dining environment check out: hosted by my friends Roland and Barb




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