Sunday, April 24, 2016

BrickCan 2016 - A Weekend Full of LEGO!

The long awaited LEGO convention, BrickCan, happened at the River Rock Casino Resort this weekend. This four-day long event drew thousands of LEGO fans to Vancouver to participate in keynote talks, games and display models in an a public LEGO exhibition. As BrickCan was geared towards AFOLs (adult fan of LEGO), tickets were completely sold out!

Visitors were greeted by a LEGO replica of the Digital Orca sculpture by Douglas Coupland, one of my favourite art pieces in Downtown Vancouver. The orca was also used in the 2016 BrickCan logo. 

A two-hour time slot was allotted to ticket holders to view the LEGO displays and visit vendor tables. There were some incredible pieces that were so awe-inspiring; the creativity and attention to detail on the builds were just amazing and made me want to start building my own models!

The first build I looked at was based on Mouse Guard, an adorable comic illustrated by David Petersen. The builder created an entire medieval village with various scenes from the comics, including the one-eyed owl, an enemy of the mice.

There were several cities that spanned an entire table, complete with motorized trains. It was fun to spot the little details the creator added in, such as a boat in a garage that I heard others commenting on.

These type of builds are one of my favourites - rocks, water and foliage. How they make something with such straight lines like a LEGO brick curve into a natural scene is beyond me; I can really appreciate all the effort that must be put into these models!

Another favourite was the amusement park scene, Brickland. Similar to Disneyland (remember Star Tours?), this diorama had so many fun things going on - a ferris wheel, roller coaster, pirate ship ride, ice cream trucks and lemonade stands. There were plenty of minifigures scattered everywhere to recreate the hustle and bustle of a theme park and it was really fun to pick some of them out with faces that fit so well with the scene. 

The theatre floor had the majority of displays and was packed with people.

There were a lot of amazing pop culture builds that included characters from Predator, Halo, Star Trek, Assassin's Creed, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Marvel superheros and much more!

Neverland never looked so good!

I really enjoyed "Parrot Island". Sometimes you can't beat the classic pirate LEGO sets from the 90's!

This was another great scene with running trains. The build was amazing to look at.

There was even a Smurf village!

There were also several mosaics, which was built from tiny LEGO plates. Can you imagine how long this orca would have taken to make?

This unbelievable diorama based on the game Fallout Shelter was back lit, which created a very eye-catching effect. Each little "room" had a different theme - very cool!

LEGO and technology meet! A clever builder incorporated LEGO scenes into his computer and his music player! This is the side of the CD player.

Visitors were encouraged to vote for their favourite LEGO build. The winning model was "The Wall", created by David Guedes, Keith Reed and Daveed Gagnon. This massive build was several feet tall, and very fitting since tonight was the return of a new season of Game of Thrones!

Let's not forget the vendors! There were LEGO sets, bricks, minifigures to purchase, along with books, art, jewelry and t-shirts. The popular minifigures and sets were flying off the shelves, and it was very fun to dig through the bins to see what you could find! It was also the perfect place to hunt for a long retired set that is now hard to find as the vendors had giant collections for sale. One of the vendors provided engraved LEGO bricks and was so popular, the wait time was 1.5 hours!

Once your two-hour time slot was up, children 12 and under could pick up an exclusive custom-designed BrickCan LEGO kit to take home, which featured the orca whale in the BrickCan logo. I wish I could have gotten one! There was also a Creation Station where anyone could go and be creative with the tubs of LEGO bricks there. Kids young and old (adults too!) were having tons of fun!

I had an amazing time at BrickCan and am looking forward to attending again next year! Make sure to sign up for notifications so you don't miss out on your ticket for BrickCan 2017!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

My family headed out to Skagit Valley to check out the Tulip Festival yesterday. It's been years since I've went out to see the tulips, and they were gorgeous!

Some cool pterodactyl kites greet you as you enter Tulip Town! 

There is an indoor area where you can check out the different types of tulips and purchase them too. There's also a little cafe that has snacks, coffee and giant cones of ice cream! 

These dark purple/black tulips are called Black Diamond. It's quite striking!

It's near the end of the tulip blooming season so most of the fields were empty, but there were still a small patch of the field that were covered in tulips in all colours. The pink ones are my favourite.

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is happening until the end of April; admission is $6 per person. Make a day trip out of it and enjoy the flowers!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Firebird Cafe

Chinese Bites is launching a new VIP program soon that involves various discounts for loyal diners at certain restaurants. I was invited to try out Firebird Cafe, a Hong Kong style cafe located at Continental Centre in Richmond, along with Mashed Thoughts, The restaurant is pretty spacious and we had plenty of seats to choose from when we arrived at 6:30, though they did get a lot busier later on in the evening.

Firebird Cafe serves a mixture of Asian and Western food, and has customizable menus, particularly for noodle soups and sizzling grills.

Most of the meal sets came with a drink. For a small upgrade, you could get a specialty drink like bubbletea, so that's what most of us ordered. I had the coconut smoothie, which I thought was very refreshing. It was a lot more like a slushy than a smoothie but there was a good coconut flavour. The others got passionfruit calpis, milk tea and horlicks. 

E decided on a noodle soup. You choose your own soup base, noodles and two toppings (additional toppings with extra charge) and a drink. She went with the gingko and pepper fish soup with egg noodles, bok choy, sliced pumpkin and fresh bean curd. The soup was SPICY. It was actually quite good, but I couldn't take the heat! E loved it so much she ended up drinking all the soup and had dry noodles left.

I ordered a custom sizzling grill - it comes with 2 items, a side, sauce, soup of the day and a drink. There was no choice for the soup (some restaurants usually have the option of a cream soup or borscht) so I had borscht. I went with beef shortribs and chicken wings with a side of fries and garlic sauce. The short ribs were very tender and the chicken wings plump and crispy. I rarely get to eat chicken wings so I was in heaven. The fries were similar to Costco fries, with the extra crispy outside. I'm drooling just thinking about it! 

V ordered the Baked Chicken Spaghetti in Meat Sauce. I normally don't order pasta at Asian restaurants, but this was actually very good and everyone agreed it was the best dish of the night. The chicken was very flavourful and tender. Mmm!

Mashed Thoughts ordered the custom steamed rice with free range chicken and pork liver with an egg ($1 charge). The dish was one of the last to arrived, probably because it took time to steam everything. The egg looked like it was microwaved though, so I probably wouldn't add the egg in next time. The liver and chicken were good, and the rice was very flavouful from the ingredients that were cooked on top of it. 

We ordered several appetizers to share, however, they were the last dishes to come out!

First we had Takoyaki, which seemed to be a hit or miss because some were very mushy on the inside but some were dryer. It came on a bed of fried onions which E couldn't stop eating (she actually took the onions home after).

Next was deep fried squid. They were nice and crispy but the batter did not seemed to be seasoned. There was a sweet chili dipping sauce on the side which made it better. The squid sat on a bed of fried onions again.

Last we had a giant bowl of Taiwanese Chicken Nuggets. They were really good and seasoned well. I ate so many even though I was so full! 

Overall, the food was decent at Firebird Cafe and the selection was typical of these type of cafes. Most of the customers seemed to be ordering the fish soup noodles so I would definitely go back when I'm craving noodles!

Firebird Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer: The food mentioned above were provided free of charge by Firebird Cafe and ChineseBites. The opinions expressed in this post are those of Savvy Shopping, Deals and Reviews and have not been influenced in any other way.