Canada’s largest restaurant festival kicks off Friday at a record-setting total of 240 participating eateries around the city. The Dine Out Vancouver Festival, now in its 11th year, offers a huge selection of dishes offered at fixed prices (either $18, $28 or $38 per person) as well as suggested wine pairings and/or craft beer to wash it down.
Along with helping local restaurants see some much-needed customers during the bleak winter months, the 17-day event also offers a smorgasbord of food-related activities including a war photography exhibit paired improbably with fine dining, pizza-making classes, dinner theatre events offered in tandem through the simultaneous PuSH Festival (including I, Malvolio, starring William Shakespeare’s "notoriously abused" steward from Twelfth Night performing a one-man show inside an oyster bar), and lots more to try to stuff in. Check out dineoutvancouver.com for the full menu.
Yet another resto fest is making its debut and — probably not coincidentally — running the very same dates as Dine Out Vancouver between Jan. 18 and Feb. 3.
Feast Van, however, offers a charitable twist. Participating east side hot spots, including Au Petit Chavignol, Cascade Room, East of Main, El Camino’s, Habit, Harvest Community Foods, Les Faux Bourgeois, and Union Bar, will donate a dollar from every fixed price meal ($20 for lunch or $30 for a three-course dinner not including tips or taxes) to the Strathcona Community Centre’s Backpack Food Program. It provides meals to underprivileged kids to take home over the weekend gaps when school food programs aren’t available. R&B Brewing will also be donating a percentage from every keg of East Side Bitter sold during the event. Les Amis du Fromage will do the same for every sold portion of macaroni and cheese and so will Pat’s Pub with its pulled pork or beef brisket sandwiches. See feastvan.com for a complete list of participating restaurants.
The Vancouver Aquarium is once again hosting its annual Divers’ Weekend, a water-logged event meant to appeal to scuba enthusiasts and non-pers alike. Featuring a variety of ping demonstrations (including one featuring vintage hard hat pe suit), exhibits, kids activities and 10 different expert speakers, pers’ Weekend takes place Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Certified pers will receive 50 per cent off admission or 10 per cent off aquarium membership with a valid certification card. Surf on over to vanaqua.org to immerse yourself in all the details.
The Community Arts Council of Vancouver is looking for more public input about the state of the arts. An event called Heart to Heart and Art to Art: Intercultural Dialogue Through the Arts, starts Jan. 19, 1 p.m. at the UBC Learning Exchange (619 Main St.), an attempt to draw more community engagement from some of Vancouver’s perse cultural and ethnic groups. A panel moderated by Francis Heng and Evi Vassious will include representatives from Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival.
(Sandra Thomas is on vacation.)