Top casting directors Heike Brandstatter and Coreen Mayrs explore Vancouver (and Bowen Island) on the green side.
Emmy Award-winning casting directors Coreen Mayrs and Heike Brandstatter spend most of their days casting feature film and television shows, having worked on such past projects as Juno, Battlestar Galactica, Capote and Diary of A Wimpy Kid. Their current projects include This Means War (starring Reese Witherspoon), Hellcats, Smallville and the soon-to-be-released Tron: Legacy. In their spare time they can be found exploring sustainable design, green building and cooking with organic ingredients.
Heike and Coreen’s 5 free, cheap or worth it things to see, do or buy in Vancouver (or beyond)
TRANSCEND at Radha. We are not vegan, but we love this nonprofit vegan and organic eatery in a newly retrofitted loftlike century-old brownstone building on Main Street adjacent to old Chinatown. Radha, which means “cosmic love,” combines a yoga centre, restaurant, cooking classes and wellness retreats at remarkably economical prices. A menu that changes with the seasons cleverly tricks you into thinking you are dining on non-vegan food with such dishes as butternut agnolotti or community dhal (their “pay-as-you-feel” spicy and hearty organic red lentil soup). Radha’s professional chefs choose food grown on small local farms, like SOLEfood, a nonprofit urban barn just a few blocks away that provides training and employment opportunities in planting, maintaining and harvesting to residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. www.radhavancouver.org
SCAVENGE for natural treasures. A walk on a beach can turn up an abundance of riches. We always pack a bag in our pockets, one that we can fold out and fill up. We love using driftwood and shells as art. In one of our guest bedrooms, we’ve placed a prized driftwood find on an old pine cabinet that houses our bathroom towels. In another area of the house, we have a bowl full of stones, dried mosses and clam and oyster shells from west coast beaches. Even a piece of old weathered wood from a broken boat looks great as a sign in your garden with your own handwriting on it.
REPLENISH your skin. The skin is the largest and most visible body organ, yet think of all the toxins we inadvertently apply to it daily. Coreen has very sensitive skin and was unable to use any creams or soaps until we discovered a complete organic skin care line called Eminence. Eminence products combine fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs, and are free of parabens, animal by-products, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulphates, harmful colorants and fragrances, mineral oils, petroleum and other harsh cosmetic chemicals. Eminence offers some really innovative alternatives to everyday skin care products. Sun Defense Mineral Powder is water-resistant, and at 30 SPF (no more sticky sun creams!) comes in various skin tones. Blueberry Soy Exfoliating cleanser smells just like a bowl of fresh berries. Yam & Pumpkin Enzyme Peel has a luscious consistency midway between mousse and purée. Eminence products can be found at various locations around the lower mainland, in addition to being exclusively used at the award-winning Heartstone Spa on Bowen Island.www.heartstonespa.com
ENLIGHTEN with Kootenay Candles. Situated in the Creston Valley, Kootenay Candles was started in 1958 by German resident who missed the high-quality beeswax candles of his homeland. Most of the company’s candles are still pure beeswax, with no toxic lead in the wick. Our favorite is the three-by-six-inch square pillar candle. It retails at $23.75, which may sound expensive, but because this candle burns so purely, it lasts much longer than any other candle of its size. We are not aware of any store that carries these candles in the Metro Vancouver, but we called Kootenay Candles directly and gave them a credit card number over the phone. Our candles were delivered by Greyhound bus within two days of our order for a delivery cost of $9.00. www.kootenaycandle.com
GO TO HEAVEN at Cocoa West Chocolatier on Bowen Island. A Sea Salt Carmel chocolate is simply a blast of pure joy. The Unbelievably Good Egg is a close second, but if the gavel must come down when the tea is served, we’ll go for the Sea Salt Carmel instant grin most times. Who knew that sea salt and dark chocolate would make such an important combination? These chocolates are organic, and they are FRESH. Bowen Island is famous for its luscious blackberries in September, so imagine Cocoa West’s limited offer of an organic freshly picked blackberry-infused dark chocolate sugar-topped truffle, called the Bowenberry. You can also book a night at the Chocolate Suite, a bed-and breakfast above the store with modern, calm and sensual décor. www.cocoawest.com
Photo: Heike Brandstatter and Coreen Mayrs, by Martin Tessler