More than two decades ago, Frank Gregus and Maurice Hamilton set out on a venture as amateur home winemakers. Their cottage industry flourished into Pacific Breeze Winery in 2005, and since their first professional release in March 2007, their family-owned garagiste?or "garage winery"?has hauled in more than 50 international medals, including Intervin's "Best Winery of the Year" award in 2010. From grape to barrel, barrel to bottle, and bottle to kiddie pool, Pacific Breeze Winery's lavishes meticulous attention to each small-lot, handcrafted product. This diligence infuses every sip of robust reds and elegant whites, each of which begins its journey at premium vineyards across North America.
The Global ComedyFest corrals some of the best and brightest comedians on the international circuit into Vancouver for a marathon of laughs, fun, and moderately uncomfortable first dates. Big names such as zany former MTV staple Tom Green perform alongside up-and-comers in more than 30 performances throughout the festival. Eschew the everyday monodimensional comedy with a combination stand-up and comedy 3-D video show featuring Canada's own Reza Peyk, Jy Harris, and Gary Fong, or opt for a night of “it’s funny because it’s true” laughs at the Gerry Dee show. The Edge of the Fest performance pushes the festival’s edgiest artists to the limits of social acceptability, while the Best of the Fest showcases top comedians such as Greg Behrendt and Peter Chao.
At Circus Gatti, exotic animals, hilarious showmen, and thrilling daredevils delight families in an outrageous three-ring spectacle. During the two-hour show, elephants Tika and Patti stomp to Bollywood choreography, and the Liberty Ponies knock their synchronized hooves under the deft direction of Miss Genevieve, who conducts with a baton made of sugar cubes. The Great Oscar soars through the heavens with nothing but an oversize rope and bones infused with helium, with The Queen Bee delivering further aerial thrills while fluttering beside her hive in an atmospheric ballet. Pipin and Poppy elicit laughs with their comedy routine, and Miss Elizabeth induces awe with a contortion and balancing act in which she fires an arrow with her legs and feet while hanging upside down. After the show, those who opted for the meet and greet will brush elbows with the circus stars, snapping photos and asking questions regarding their skill, bravery, and how to construct a Q-tip big enough to clean an elephant's ear.
An evening at The Giggle Dam begins as a typical night out, until a zany cast member delivers your appetizer. That's because the theatre treats the dinner and performance portions of its shows as one and the same; rather than only using printed menus, the cast sings the dinner selections to the audience, and rather than postponing the entertainment, the entrée delivery is part of the show. Every plate of the four-course meal—which features rotating dishes such as roast beef and gravy, salmon, and vegetarian pasta—is crafted by award-winning chef Pieter Van Meenen, who incorporates seasonal ingredients and fresh techniques in each of his inventive creations. As the audience dines, the actors float around the room and converse with every table while hamming it up with their impressions and gags.
Once the actors are familiar with the audience members' names, hometowns, and shampoo preferences, they hit the stage and engage the audience in an outrageous and politically incorrect original musical comedy show accompanied by an eight-piece band. Every performance is a Giggle Dam original written by the members of the diverse cast who all bring something different to the table, whether it's singing in musical theatre, touring with a rock band, or performing in burlesque shows. The Giggle Dam cast pulls from these experiences to create shows full of laughs, music, and willing audience participation. To keep things fresh, the company swaps out the shows four times a year, premiering a new display every three months to feature more vibrant characters, catchy songs, and side-splitting laughs.
Inventive interpretations of upscale Italian eats populate Tramonto's savoury dinner menu. Travel toward taste with a starter such as the foie gras ($21), with Kashmiri-spiced poached peach and caramelized Belgian endive, or attempt the ahi tuna tartar ($13), accompanied by cucumber cups, tobiko, balsamic reduction, and a tomato chutney. The caprese salad ($13) recruits a herd of buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and balsamic to outrun hunger pangs, and the sockeye salmon ($29) stars as a main dish, steamed and raised with braised leeks, potato gnocchi, tomato confit, and a vermouth cream sauce. The wagyu beef (available at market price) asserts itself as a favourite in the meat-seeking mouths of carnivores, and the chicken ($27) comes stuffed with truffle and goat cheese. After an exciting meal, saunter into the luxurious casino and take your chances at making $10 grow exponentially, like a colony of chinchillas or a love for reality cooking shows.