Feel-good Friday: the Dinner Date

A perfect dinner date is where those involved leave happier than when they first walked indate3

 Ohh…the importance of romance.  I was invited to a casually elegant little “nest in the city” the other night.  A delightful evening.

Il Nido at 780 Thurlow St (just slightly off Robson)
Il Nido at 780 Thurlow St (just slightly off Robson) in Vancouver, BC

It may be Friday, but enjoying a romantic dinner date can be any day of the week.  And it should be!  It doesn’t mean you have to go out but if you do I recommend a cozy place with friendly service, attention to detail and delicious tasting food.  A good wine list always helps and Italian is always high up on my list.  I’m talking about Il Nido which has been around for a long time in Vancouver, a little off the beaten path.

Appetizer of grilled calamari in rich tomato sauce, 2 year aged proscuitto with melon & pickled garnish and meatballs in sauce.
Starters: grilled calamari in rich tomato sauce, 2 year aged proscuitto with melon & pickled garnish and meatballs in sauce.  Of course, Prosecco.

Owner Franco Felice (who’s last name joyfully translates to happy in Latin) has been
providing Northern Italian fare in the same location for 28 years. Sometimes we have to refresh ourselves and revisit one of Vancouver’s little hidden gems.

Grilled Salmon, homemade Gnocchi and Osso bucco Lamb
Grilled Salmon, homemade Gnocchi and Osso bucco Lamb with a nice Malbec.

Sure, we can try the latest crop of trendy spots which there seems to be no lack of in this city, but sometimes we want something tried and true, something with integrity and staying power.  A place that won’t let us down.  A place like Il Nido.   

In house made Tiramisu & chocolate torte with ice cream in raspberry puree
In house made Tiramisu & Torta al Cioccolato with vanilla gelato, raspberry coulis & a perfect cappuccino.

I met some very intriguing people who offered thought-provoking conversation and sampled an excellent menu there.  So like I said, they were the perfect dinner dates – it doesn’t have to be just one!

Something else to consider:

an app to help you choose your “perfect” date night or evening out with friendshttps://tangoo.ca/

The weekly affair:

http://jointhedinnerparty.com/

The Dinner Party is a weekly affair where lovely host Andrea connects fabulous singles of like minds, in Vancouver and beyond. First date stress and pressure, be gone!

Be charming, be engaging, but most importantly, be yourself.  So she says!date1

Photo credits: Lady & the Tramp; Disney.  Restaurant; d. king

contemplating…what makes a good ENTREPRENEUR

On Thursday evening I was at the Vancouver Club with a room full of budding young entrepreneurs yeah, I know what was I doing there? to hear Vikram Vij give an empowering and heartfelt talk about his success story and what it took to get him where he is today.

Vikram & Rosa
with Vikram & my friend Rosa

From growing up in India, to training in Austria to finally making a home in Vancouver with three successful restaurants, a food truck, a cookbook, curry products sold in many stores across Canada and drumroll….having been one of the judges on Dragon’s Den – it’s been a humble and intriguing journey.

The people in the room were from the Pacific Club which is a group that connects and inspires Vancouver’s young professionals. There were some very interesting people. One of them was my friend Paul Davidescu who has a startup venture called Tangoo (the pocket concierge app for organizing the perfect outing to help bring people together in social and network gatherings). Tangoo was recently featured on Dragon’s Den, was given an offer which they turned down and after that Paul approached Vikram who then decided to help finance the company which is turning out to be a success story in it’s own right. Vikram said he invested in the person, not just the idea.  He was sold on Paul’s enthusiasm and belief in the enterprise.  It’s not just a money making venture for him.

The Tangoo Team
The Tangoo Team
Paul Davidescu - photo: Globe & Mail
Paul Davidescu – photo: Globe & Mail

It was refreshing to hear him speak because Vikram believes that it’s about building relationships. It should not occur to you to make business a means to only make money. Put your love, passion and desire into your business – if you don’t create the most flavourful dish and put effort into everything that goes into it, it’s like dating a beautiful woman but there’s no chemistry.  All the ingredients have to be balanced.

Rosa & me
Rosa (Paul’s mom) is my confidante, running buddy & of late, Spanish Instructor extraordinaire.

He believes in working together. You always need somebody next to you in order to become successful – a partner, friend, someone who understands where you’re coming from and believes in you. Very important!

When someone tells him his food is terrible (like that ever happens) – he likens it to hurting as much as someone telling you that you have an ugly child.  It is taken to heart.

His food philosophy is similar to that of living in an Indian village – buy local. He prefers to buy produce, fruit and wine where they are grown. We are so lucky here in British Columbia. We have an ocean that produces sustainable seafood, produce and wines from the Okanagan and the Fraser Valley. We need to know that what we have here is incredible. He used the spices that come from India together with local fare to create an interesting mix which turns out to be a pleasing combination.

His advice:
Learn from the best mentors.  Don’t think you know it all. Always be a student and a sponge – learn from people. No one is above another. You can learn something from everyone.  Pierre Elliott Trudeau once came into his restaurant and waited in line like everyone else. An example is if he could wait so could everyone else. If you have nothing to talk about for 30 to 45 minutes chilling & hanging out at the back of the restaurant what are you doing out eating with this person anyway?

Travel the world, go to different parts to experience the local cuisine and music. When you sit together, eat together and you enjoy each others company you can talk about anything. Guns and Politics will never help to solve the problems of the world. Music & Cuisine bring people together.  On another musical note, RIP “King of the Blues” BB  – I’m so lucky to have heard you and your beautiful Lucille live on stage at the CNE in Toronto many years ago.

Vij's Original
Vij’s

New for Vikram: Rangoli (next to Vij’s) – is a brand new concept restaurant. Instead of expanding Vij’s which would have been simpler he created something different.  He always chooses to create fresh ideas & new concepts. My Shanti in South Surrey is also totally different from the other two. Vij’s Railway Express is a take on Indian street food – excellent examples of Indian Fare that’s a bit of a stretch from the “all too familiar” dishes like Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka.

vij1He prefers to push the limits with a desire to change things.

Sound advice from a pro – I think I’ll take that to heart.

check out the Tangoo App here: https://tangoo.ca/

Where to buy Vij’s 15 varieties of frozen curry products:  http://www.vijs.ca/where-to-buy/

City Scene – it takes more than two to Tangoo

Like the dance,Tangoo is a metaphor for moving in a meaningful way across ones city. It embodies effortless and meaningful movement while always knowing the next step.

Tangoo’s mission is to make Vancouver a more fun and connected city.

Tangoo is the brainchild of Sauder School of Business alumni Henry Heeney and Paul Davidescu with one purpose in mind; to help Vancouverites get the most out of their evenings. The goal was to design a perfect evening out with a blend of distinct people & places, authentic food, stiff cocktails, and ultimately, great memories. Henry and Paul dreamed up the concept of Tangoo after visiting beautiful Barcelona and realizing that Vancouver’s social scene needed a boost. They had to find a way to ease the pain of disastrous last-minute group planning and the difficulty with meeting new people around the city. They succeeded!

Tangoo made the Globe and Mail’s TOP TEN Vancouver Attractions.

Cheers everyone!
Cheers everyone!

By being a part of a Tangoo evening you’re treated like a VIP where everything is taken care of beforehand so you get to enjoy a hassle-free night out.   I’ve enjoyed two Tangoo evenings so far and look forward to many more.  It’s a great way to meet new people, experience the best of Vancouver venues with drinks, appies, dinner, transportation (if required by limo, taxi or ferry boat depending on your location) and ending up at a popular nightclub.  Most places are within walking distance of each other which makes for easy access.  They offer Gastown evenings, or places in Yaletown for example and are expanding to more and more locations like the recent West End & Granville Island. They seek out the drinking and dining gems of Vancouver with groups of 30 or more seated within the same location for easy conversation.

The view at Ten Ten Tapas - our location.
The view at our location – Ten Ten Tapas.
Friends Georgina, Rosa, handsome Paul & me.
Georgina, Rosa,  Paul & me at Ten Ten Tapas

HOW TO Tangoo: It’s easy & for everyone – just select a night and venue from their calendar & book online which takes care of your 3-course meal and two drinks with tax & tip already included in the final price.  How nice is that?

Plan your next weekend out at: https://tangoo.ca/