I’m a wee bit sore today, mainly because I finally reacquainted myself with the gym. The two of us hadn’t hung out in……a while. I was glad I went, not only because I’m now a few pushups stronger, but also because I got to watch soccer and learned a new word: Futsal.
This weekend The Oval is hosting the Youth Provincial Futsal Championships, and because I hadn’t a clue what that meant, I did some research; the word comes from the Portuguese phrase ‘fútbol Sala,’ which means ‘hall-football’ or ‘indoor football,’ and was shortened to futsal, as it’s now known.
The game is played indoors, on a small pitch, and with slightly different rules from soccer, but is internationally recognized and governed by FIFA. It requires quick and efficient ball-handling and improvisation, so my guess is that it’s a great way for many local athletes to improve their soccer skills in the off-season.
There were four games happening when I arrived, and hundreds of people milling about. Seeing how quickly the athletes moved on the pitch was good inspiration for me to get my butt upstairs and onto the treadmill. The tournament continues today and is free to watch, so go get your futsal fill!
After my workout, I limped back to the change room, and within a few minutes could hear my stomach growling. I swear, even if I just work out for an hour, my body is convinced I’ve completed the Tour de France. Ravenous, but wanting something relatively healthy, I decided to go to Earls Restaurant in Lansdowne Mall. Like Brown’s Social House, it was a place I hadn’t really planned on going to. But, as you’ll recall, I ended up really enjoying Brown’s. So in the spirit of new year open-mindedness, I decided to give Earls a chance as well.
The thing is, I actually have a long history with this restaurant. Way back in the day, when I was a kid and the Earls’ theme was ‘everything parrots,’ we’d go to the one in Prince George. I’d sit with my head back the entire time, enthralled by the ceiling of mirrors and sea of parrots that hung from it. I was so enamoured with those parrots I asked for one for my birthday, and got one. I named it Rambo. Yes, Rambo. That’s not because I had any clue who Rambo actually was, but because my friend’s brother talked about him all the time and I thought the word sounded so pretty – kind of like ‘rainbow.’ So yes, as a child I did have a fake pet parrot named after a beefy, gun-toting, bandana-wearing mercenary.
During my ballet years, Earls was the place we’d go to after any and all dance competitions or shows; we’d order lava lamp virgin margaritas, Caesar salads, chicken fingers and fries, and whatever desserts were currently on the menu. We got to stay up late and feel like the adults that we weren’t – I loved those nights almost more than I loved Rambo.
Years later, I went to some Earls restaurants in various cities, but was never all that happy with the food. It would sound great on the menu, but the result was lackluster. So I stopped going, and didn’t think I’d go in Richmond either. The thing is though, after having eaten at 213 places in as many days, I’m now less picky about choosing restaurants. My ‘Not Eating THERE’ list is shorter, and I decided to give Earls another try. Was it worth it? I’m so pleased to say yes, it was.
By the time I arrived I was so hungry I nearly canned the healthy eating idea and went with my favourite dish as a teenager – the ribs with garlic mashed potatoes. They are GOOD. But, seeing they have Oceanwise items, I went with two fish dishes off their seasonal menu.
Poke is a kind of raw, ceviche-like salad from Hawaii; this version had albacore tuna sashimi mixed with cucumber, avocado, and tomato, and was spooned over crispy wontons. With mango coulis, sliced Serrano peppers, and crushed macadamia nuts on top, they did kind of look like nachos, and I ate them with my hands. It was a great dish – the wontons were crisp and salty, and the flavours and textures of everything mixed well. This is an interesting riff on sashimi, and worth a try.
My entrée was the Quinoa Crusted Lois Lake Salmon ($23.50), which came with a carrot puree, herb and ginger vinaigrette, and roasted beets. The salmon was good, (though ever so slightly undercooked), however the real stars of the plate were the carrot puree and vinaigrette. It was brilliantly green, zingy, and tasted extraordinary with the silky, creamed carrots. They were are a nice alternative to mashed potatoes, not to mention they added remarkable colour to the plate.
Since I’d already had two courses, I figured I might as well add a third. I had the sticky toffee pudding ($8), which came with two sauces – buttery caramel and chocolate – as well as vanilla bean gelato in a candy snap basket.
The restaurant was packed, especially with families, so it’s obviously a popular place. I felt kind of sorry for those kids though, what with there no longer being fake flocks of tropical birds to stare.
I really enjoyed my meal at Earls. Rambo the Parrot (rest his soul) would be pleased to know that.
Cash and cards accepted
Plenty of vegetarian options available