Last Monday, I attended Yelp's Bizarre Bar at Endeavor Arts Gallery & Event Space. I brought my sister-in-law, Kelsey, and my friend and former Vancouverite, Jaime. The theme of the night was "Geek Chic". I’ve never been to Endeavour, but I heard that the venue is often rented out for private parties. We enjoyed walking around the room, admiring the art work and other unusual pieces of furniture. For entertainment, there were poetry readings via People's Poetry Festival and a burlesque dancer who was hell-bent on seducing everyone in the room. I’m glad my fiance was safe at home.
Beverages of night included wicked whiskey cocktails with bitters, provided by Jameson Irish Whiskey. Tasty stuff. I need to start stocking up on Irish whiskey, or more specifically, Jameson Whiskey. Yelp also provided guests with Big Rock beers, bottles of water and pop.
Springbank Cheese Co. was giving out samples of cheeses, wine shortbread cookies and fig and olive crackers. The variety of hard and soft cheeses were delicious, and the portions were big enough for dinner. I couldn’t get enough of the gooey cheeses and the wine shortbread cookies with red and black pepper. I chatted with Linda Kurytnik, the owner of Crowfoot location, and Kristen from Willow Park store, and learned that the stores carry 360 types of cheese.
First, I tried the Blue Cambonzola from Germany, which Linda described as a blooming rind camembert that has been blued. The blue cambonzola was one of my favourite cheeses. The second cheese was Le Cendrillion Goat with ash from Quebec, Canada. Linda noted this world cheese won a gold medal for Canada in 2009. The third cheese was a washed rind cheese, Le Hercules de Charlevoix from Quebec, Canada. The fourth selection was a raw unpasteurized milk cheese, Cave Aged Gruyere from Switzerland. Linda informed us that this is Springbank’s number one seller, a cheese that has, several times, won world cheese honors. The fifth cheese was Le Dauphin brie from France. Linda described one of my favourite picks of the night as a soft, runny brie cheese. The brie was served on a wine biscuit. Finally, there was an old Canadian cheddar and a Chevrita, a goat milk brie from Canada.
Next up were baked beef empanadas from Empanada Queen. The pastry casing was flaky while the savoury mixture beef, onion and olive filling was tasty. I loved the aji, which looked like a cross between tomato salsa and salsa verde but tasted more complex. I found out from the owner, Katherine Vallejos, that Empanada Queen will be moving to a new location. I hope she moves closer to me, so I can buy aji on a regular basis.
Next up was a large slice of pizza from Lorenzo. I sampled the Hawaiian, Kelsey tried the prosciutto and gorgonzola while Jaime ate the Margherita. The crust was thin and crisp, and the dough was slightly sweet. The proportion of toppings to crust was perfect, so that in each bite, there are equal amounts of topping and crust. I learned from one of the owners that the crust at Lorenzo’s is homemade and the owners strive to buy the best quality ingredients.
The owner of Epiphanie Chocolate provided Yelpers with sweet samples. We chatted to him about his store and product, which are made by his wife. The box of chocolates on display were very pretty. I declined a sample but Jaime and Kelsey really enjoyed the dark chocolate.
Yelp sold raffle tickets for Neighbourhood Link, an organization that helps people living below the poverty line with furniture, household items, baby supplies, food hampers, and bus tickets. A raffle ticket was sold $3.00 or three tickets for $5.00. The prizes were donated by: Añejo; Belgo Brasserie; Jelly Modern Donuts; The Costume Shoppe; Taste; deVille; Village Brewery; Inner Balance Spa; Fiasco Gelato; Holy Grill; Old School Emporium; and Mona Lisa Art Supplies.
I bought two arms length of tickets and ended up winning four prize boxes. However, I only took three boxes home because I wasn't aware at the time that I had the winning number for one of the prizes. Perhaps it was a good thing I only picked up three gift packages. From the reaction of the crowd, I thought I was going to get an ass kicking.
What did I win? Gift certificates to Añejo ($50); Belgo Brasserie ($300); Taste ($100); Añejo tee-shirt; two litres of beer from Village Brewery, and costumes for four at The Costume Shoppe. I've already promised my good luck charms, Jaime and Kelsey, that I'd take them to Belgo, Añejo and Taste.
Thank you to Yelp's community manager, Wendy, for organizing such a fun party. As well, a huge thank you to all the sponsors and Endeavor Arts Gallery for providing the venue, goodies, food, beverages, entertainment and prizes. I found a bunch of new businesses (Empanada Queen, Lorenzo's, Springbank Cheese Co) that I love, and I walked away with the biggest prizes of the night, dinner at Belgo, Añejo and Taste. Perhaps before dinner, my friends and I can pick up costumes from the Costume Shoppe, so that we are dressed appropriately for the occasion.
1. Springbank Cheese Co.
2015 14 St NW
2. Springbank Cheese Co.
Willow Park Village
10816 Macleod Tr WE
3. Springbank Cheese Co.
7422 Crowfoot Rd NW
4. Springbank Cheese Co.
3570 Garrison Gate NW