Insights West recently released data from a poll on the treatment of animals. The headline result was that 88% of respondents were against trophy hunting – hopefully a wake up call to the government which still supports it. However, the surprising result for me was that only 85% of British Columbians were in favour of “eating animals”. Usually vegetarianism in Canada is estimated at around 5% of the population. Either BC has a much higher percentage of vegetarians than the rest of Canada or some people who eat meat don’t realize it comes from animals.
Seattle has some great vegetarian restaurants. Last weekend we had the chance to try a few new ones and I was really impressed by Sutra. They offer a 5-course fixed meals for $40 with a menu that changes every 2 weeks. Everything is vegan and they use a lot of locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients.
Everything we got was really tasty. All 5 courses were solid. Here’s what we got to eat.
First & Second Course: Miso-Roasted Parsnip-Matsutake Soup with Umeboshi Drizzle served aside a salad of Arugula-Watercress-Shaved Fennel-Asian Pear-Smoked Lentil-Candied Sunflower Seed and a Black Vinaigrette
Third Course: Celery Root-Pumpkin Seed & Parsley Pesto-Marina d’Chioggia Squash Dumpling, Sautéed Kohlrabi & Brussel Sprout with Ponzu & Sesame Seed
Fourth Course: Sea Broth-Cashew Cheese Risotto with Roasted Wax Turnip and Juan de Doub Carrot, Grilled Wild Foraged Hon Shimeji with Mirin-Sundried Tomato-Thyme Sauce & Fried Caperberry
Fifth Course: Jona Gold Apple-Pecan-Carmel Torte with a Ginger-Lime Coconut Whip
The soup and salad were delicious. The squash dumping was imaginative. The risotto was a little disappointing, but only because its the default vegan menu item at most restaurants. And the torte with the whipped coconut for dessert was fabulous.
I love the Amtrak Cascades line. It’s hands down the best way to travel from Vancouver to Seattle. You have beautiful views of the ocean, no border waits (you pre-clear customs in Vancouver), the seats are roomy, and there’s free wifi and power outlets.
Emily and I took the train down to visit friends in Seattle, try some vegetarian restaurants, and do some shopping. It was great seeing some of the Waterloo crew and hearing about the latest gossip at Microsoft, Amazon, and the Seattle startup world.
I like Seattle but it’s a lot harder to get around without a car. We used a combination of public transit, taxis, and walking and I was amazed by how bad traffic was all weekend long. The good news is there are new light rail lines and cycle tracks under construction.
On the way back to Vancouver, we spent a day in Bellingham. I was impressed to find the city is more then the malls along the interstate. There are two cute historic downtowns (Fairhaven and Bellingham) with some interesting shops, good restaurants, fancy hotels, and spas. We stayed at Hotel Bellwether on Sunday night, walked around during the day, spent the afternoon The Chrysalis Spa, and had dinner at Keenan’s at the Pier.
Strava is an awesome web app that helps runners and cyclists track their training performance and compare it with friends. I use it to log all my runs and occasionally my bike rides. They’ve taken the GPS data from the millions of trips their users have logged and built a crowdsourced mapping tool. If you’re technically inclined, I highly recommend the engineering blog post that explains how the graph datastore and geospatial index were designed. If you’re not, you can still appreciate the heat maps and route builder tool they provide.
Here are heat maps of the most popular cycling and running routes in Vancouver, compared to the official bike map. It’s interesting to note there are several streets that are popular cycling routes but not official bike routes – like Cornwall, West Point Grey (soon to be a bike route), 16th, Denman, and sections of Cambie and Main Street. The seawall is the most popular route for running, but cycling is only popular on the seawall where there is physical separation with pedestrians.
Vancouver’s Official Bike Network
Vancouver’s Popular Bike Routes Heatmap
Vancouver’s Popular Running Routes Heatmap
Strava’s Route Builder
application is a worthy competitor to Google Maps. It knows the most popular routes so it often gives better directions than Google Maps for running and cycling. For example, here are the directions for my commute to work. Strava chooses the route I actually take over the Dunsmuir Viaduct while Google is way off. Most of Strava’s cycling data comes from competitive cyclists, not commuters, so the data is a bit skewed. You can really see it in the time it suggests for my commute – 6 minutes. In reality it takes me about 10-12 minutes to bike to work, which is closer to what Google displays.
Directions to Work via Google
Directions to Work via Strava
I hope this weather sticks around until Halloween. It’s creepy but beautiful.
Lots more pictures on Flickr.