Saturday, January 22, 2011

Can you ever just walk past Nikaido in Steveston?

I would say "no."

What is it about Nikaido's window displays that seems to draw you in, root you to the spot, and transport you to ... elsewhere.

May be it's their maps of Paris, or books on London, or - your childhood favourite - adventure books of Tin Tin by Georges Remi.

May be it's the way they artfully arrange things in clean zen-like simplicity.

Or cluster objects of monochromatic colours to make you think of similarities instead of differences and harmony instead of contrast.

Or prop up whimsical posters like this one of a lady trying to escape the winter chills with seven pots of tea.

Whatever their formula is for this arresting experience, I can tell you that it works.

Just look around you the next time you find yourself gawking into Nikaido's windows. I did. And this was what I saw...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bell's Bake Shop serves cups of sweetness to Steveston

Please welcome Jennifer Bell, who opened her cupcake shop in Steveston on December 10th, 2010.

Jennifer is a Richmond girl who left home to seek culinary adventures in Merry Old England. While living in the old country for four years, Jennifer immersed herself in the pastry world and her last three months abroad was spent in - yes you guessed it - a cupcake shop.

No wonder then that, when she returned home, she dreamed of opening up her own bakeshop.

"I was thinking of offering full size cakes that would be sold by the slice," says Jennifer. "But cupcakes are a lot easier. And there is less waste because I just hate waste."

Currently there are nine regular flavours on her display shelves. They stand in cozy - and creamy - clusters, sporting such dreamy labels as:
1-Devils food cupcake with dark chocolate frosting
2-Banana cupcake with butterscotch frosting
3-Carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting
4-Confetti cupcake with vanilla frosting
5-Vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting
6-Red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting
7-Rich chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting
8-Coconut cupcake with coconut frosting
9-Lemon cupcake with lemon frosting

"At the moment, I have one gluten free flavour that's available every day. In the future, I will be offering diabetic and vegan cupcakes as well," continues Jennifer.

And if you tend to think big, Jennifer can also whip you up a giant cupcake, which is available by pre-order only.

For the moment, Jennifer's nine everyday flavours would satisfy a heck of a lot of preferences, including the newly introduced maple bacon cupcake for those who like to depart from the strictly sugar and spice variety. My personal favourite is the lemon cupcake which is as light and refreshing as a burst of sunshine.

The next time you find yourself on First Avenue, why not poke your head in and pick your own this irresistible lot!