A New Frontier for the Telus World of Science: The Purple Pear

Last week, I was among those invited to attend the media showcase of The Purple Pear, the rebranded cafeteria-style restaurant inside the Telus World of Science. Open since September 30, 2016, the eatery has had a complete makeover, from the dining room to the menus.

The entire space has been transformed – from the herb garden lining the newly-installed windows and the much cleaner purple and white colour palette, to the subtle aurora borealis accent lights.

The Purple Pear

The Purple Pear

If you’re wondering about the name – it was generated through an internal contest. Staff were invited to submit entries and the most popular one was selected. “The Purple Pear” was chosen because it echoed TWOSE’s colour branding, and relating a theme of science, is something not found in nature. You can find the name of the staff who submitted the entry on the menu – as the winner of the contest, Mikhaiel had a pizza named after her.

The Purple Pear

Wine-poached “purple pear” appetizers

As expected, the menu features a lot of kid friendly options, but also some more interesting dishes to appeal to more adult tastes, including a prosciutto and pear salad and a tuna tataki sandwich. We had the opportunity to sample a slider version of the TWOSE stacked burger, a solid choice layered with crispy onions, cheddar, applewood smoked bacon and their house sauce.

The Purple Pear

TWOSE sliders

Without a doubt, the star of the new menu are their pizzas. Baked in the same high temperature ovens found at Urbano Pizza, they are ready in just minutes. My sister and I had the chance to sample two types: the Godfather ($11.95) and the Mikhaiel ($14.95).

The Purple Pear

The Godfather

While the Godfather, with tomato sauce, capicola ham, genoa salami, chorizo sausage, red onion and mozzarella was a fairly standard pizza, the Mikhaeil featured more unique ingredients. We really liked the combination of alfredo sauce, chicken, bacon, caramelized onion, artichokes, goat cheese, arugula and mozzarella.

The Purple Pear

The Mikhaeil

The Purple Pear is also trying to offer dishes themed for their current exhibitions. In conjunction with Angry Birds Universe, they have a “Bird Egg Pig” burger on special (unfortunately, trademark laws restrict the kitchen’s ability to name the burger). It’s a fun way for the restaurant to continue the fun to be had in the rest of the facility.

Most interesting to me, The Purple Pear hopes to appeal to area businesses and residents who are seeking different meal options. In warmer climes, they want to attract people looking for picnic lunches to take over to the underutilized Coronation Park, and perhaps in a few years when the Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium reopens, there will be even more foot traffic around TWOSE. It will take much effort on their part to increase awareness about their new offerings, as the facility has never been known as a food destination, but with some creativity and innovation, it may be possible.

Thanks to the staff for hosting the showcase, and I look forward to visiting again some time in the future!

Recap: Dark Matters Nerdgasm

It’s been more than a year since Mack and I attended Dark Matters, a series of adult-only evenings at the Telus World of Science. Billed as an event where “science is served on the rocks & the adults come out to play,” Dark Matters provides a relaxed environment for learning and the opportunity to connect with an Edmonton attraction in a different way.

Dark Matters

Thespian robot

The Dark Matters that we attended last July was centered around food, while the theme of Thursday’s event was “Nerdgasm”. Top-secret Nerd Nite Edmonton lectures were the feature of the evening.

What brought us out to this particular Dark Matters was actually the Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit. We’d recently visited Jurassic Forest in Gibbons, and learned that similar animatronic dinosaurs were on display closer to home.

Dark Matters

Mack with a juvenile t-rex

As one of our biggest complaints about Jurassic Forest was the distance between the viewing platform and the dinosaurs themselves, Dinosaurs Unearthed did deliver. The exhibition is, as expected, much more compact, with a combination of animatronic and fossil specimens on display.

Dark Matters

Dinosaurs Unearthed

The figures also featured the most up-to-date renderings of dinosaurs, feathers and all. Though we have to say, after learning that a velociraptor was between the size of a turkey and Great Dane, that classic raptor/kitchen scene in Jurassic Park just wouldn’t be the same if based on current scientific knowledge.

Dark Matters

I couldn’t help myself

While we enjoyed our visit with the dinosaurs, the highlight of Dark Matters did end up being the Nerd Nite lecture. Megan Evans, who plays the French horn for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, demystified the instrument for us. It was an enlightening and engaging 45 minutes, full of humour and fun facts. It was a great primer on what we could expect at a regular Nerd Nite event, which starts up again in September.

Dark Matters

Megan Evans on the French horn

Mack and I both agreed that this Dark Matters seemed to involve more elements than the previous one we’d attended. They made the most of the space, including outside the facility, where staff were launching rockets.

Dark Matters

Rocket launching isn’t just for kids

We ended our evening with a tour of TWOSE with long-time staff member (and now volunteer) Trevor Prentice. He is an enthusiastic ambassador of the centre, and introduced us to his favourite exhibit – an actual piece of the moon!

Dark Matters

Trevor with the moon rock exhibit

We were granted a behind-the-scenes look at the Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre (did you know that the laser shows are not pre-programmed and are controlled by the technician?). Trevor also showed us Sophie, the star projection machine used before the transition to a digital system.

Dark Matters

Sophie

It was a great way to spend an evening reacquainting ourselves with the Telus World of Science. The next Dark Matters is taking place on October 15, 2015, with a rock & roll theme – it should be fun!

Yelp’s Ultimate Science Party @ the Telus World of Science

Ever since the success of the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Refinery series, other cultural and learning institutions have jumped on the bandwagon to replicate their success of drawing young professionals into their folds. The Royal Alberta Museum has started their semi-regular Museum After Dark events, while the Telus World of Science organizes bi-monthly Dark Matters evenings.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Telus World of Science

Yelp partnered with TWOS for their most recent Dark Matters event in order to throw Yelp’s Ultimate Science Party. It was a night to appreciate the Yelp community by merging food and drink with opportunities for adults to indulge in their childish wonder.

The Telus World of Science staff were great, patiently explaining how their stations worked and the science behind them. I made my hair stand on end, while Mack took part in a flaming karaoke device.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Whee!

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Do re mi

A ton of people also took the “hovercrafts” for a ride – leaf blowers attached to perforated boards to be maneuvered with sticks. Not exactly what I pictured from Back to the Future, but close enough.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Hovercrafts in action

Yelp had also organized a variety of pampering stations so guests could have their hair and nails done as well. A more popular unisex vendor involved balloon animals, which, according to those who lined up, could have also taken on a more naughty slant.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Diane, Teresa and Brittney and their balloon masterpieces

Of course, a big draw that night for everyone was the food! Tasting stations were set up throughout the building, and stumbling upon them was almost half the fun.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Mini Swiss2Go sandwiches

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Food truck bay

Taste of Edmonton, to help promote their upcoming 30th anniversary year (the festival starts July 17, and runs until July 26, 2014), had organized several of their restaurant vendors to offer a sampling of what to expect at the festival.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Miles from The Lingnan dishes up kung pao chicken

The green onion cake from Hong Kong Bakery was irresistible, but the real surprise for me was the cheese fondue in a bread cup from The Melting Pot. It’s hard to mess up melted cheese on bread, but boy, was it delicious.

Yelp Science Fair / Dark Matters

Green onion cakes!

This was my first Yelp event in some time, and I was quite impressed with how many local businesses were a part of it! And though it was not a typical Dark Matters evening, I could see how the adult-only concept is a great program addition for the Telus World of Science. Mark your calendar for their next Dark Matters, a “Cowboys and Aliens”-themed event on August 28, 2014.

Thanks to Jennie and Yelp for a fun night!

Star Wars Identities at the Telus World of Science

Mack made it easy on me to plan his birthday outing this year – he’d said from the beginning that all he wanted to do was check out the Star Wars Identities exhibit at the Telus World of Science. We’re both fans of the films, and had heard that there were quite a number of props and costumes worth seeing.

Star Wars Identities

The bikini heard ’round the world

What we didn’t know too much about was the “identities” portion of the exhibit. We knew we’d come out with some sort of character, but weren’t sure how this would happen. Turns out, it was quite seamless, and well-integrated with the displays.

We chose to head to TWoS early last Saturday afternoon, probably a mistake in hindsight. Parking was a nightmare, and the facility itself was quite busy (though not as busy as later that day; rule of thumb: the earlier, the better!). We had to queue up for at least twenty minutes before we were permitted inside the exhibit, located in the newest wing of the building. While waiting, we were given a rubber bracelet and an audio set.

The bracelet enabled us to create our character by choosing from different options at ten stations located throughout the displays. From mentors and personality to values, we would help define our Star Wars self. The creators also made sure the selections were placed at a height accessible to young children – everything proved to be deliberate and well thought-out.

Star Wars Identities

Make your choice, padawan

The audio sets worked within certain ranges of displays or video screens, helping to keep the noise level to a minimum. Mack and I wondered why more galleries haven’t adopted systems like this – I have to say I much prefer listening to a narrative clip to reading a placard.

As expected, the costumes, models and sketches on display would make any Star Wars fan excited. I particularly loved seeing several of Padme’s costumes, while Mack jumped at the chance to pose with Darth Vader.

Star Wars Identities

Gorgeous costumes

Star Wars Identities

Darth Vader

Star Wars Identities

Anakin’s podracer!

Star Wars Identities

Millenium Falcon model

Star Wars Identities

Han in carbonite

The highlight for me was actually watching the brief videos detailing how the two Skywalker men, Anakin and Luke, could veer off into such different paths in spite of their similar roots and trajectories. I guess I never really thought about their characters in such an in-depth way, especially about how the their parenting influenced each of them so profoundly.

Star Wars Identities

Watching one of the videos

The last identity option participants could choose from was whether or not to accept The Emperor’s offer to join the dark side. Mack chose to succumb, while I held out.

The final part of the exhibit allowed us to project our character onto a screen, and e-mail the character to ourselves for online sharing.

Our Star Wars selves!

Before heading out, we checked out the newly renovated environment gallery. The spherical projection screen was pretty cool, and the aquariums added some visual appeal. But as a whole, I was disappointed at the amount of text screens versus hands on displays. It doesn’t help that we were exposed to Calgary’s Spark last year, which features a wonderfully interactive environment gallery.

TWoS Environment Gallery

Spherical projection screen

TWoS Environment Gallery

Too many words!

If you’re a Star Wars fan (or even just a fan of filmmaking in general), make sure you head to the Telus World of Science before the Identities exhibit closes April 1, 2013.

A Day with the Birthday Boy!

Mack celebrated his birthday on Tuesday. He probably gets short-changed somewhat because it falls so close after Christmas, but he usually has the day off of work for the holidays, which means we can spend the day together.

Mack loves LEGO, so we had already made plans a few weeks ago to check out Wheels, Wings & Waves, a LEGO World of Transportation Exhibition (two years ago for his birthday, we took in the Art of the Brick exhibition, also at the Telus World of Science). The exhibition chronicles the history of transportation “on the ground, in the air and on the water, all as seen through the eyes and built by the hands of talented LEGO builders”, and runs until January 2, 2011.

27th Birthday

Mack thought he was too big to fit inside the racecar

All of the models were pretty cool, but of course, we had a few favourites, including the Titanic  and the Space Lab.

27th Birthday

Titanic

27th Birthday

Space Lab

But it was a model of the High Level Bridge and the LRT bridge, built by the Northern Alberta LEGO Users Group that really caught our eye in the main showroom. We loved the small details – the people on the trails, the cars on the bridge.

27th Birthday

Too cool!

A small room at the back of the exhibit housed a model inspired by The Way We Move, the City’s Transportation Master Plan.

27th Birthday

Edmonton, reimagined

In the middle of the room, there was a LEGO equivalent of “Where’s Waldo?”, complete with a working lighthouse and a moving train.

27th Birthday

Look for the details

Mack couldn’t wait to get his hands on LEGO. After rummaging around the numerous bins available, he was able to find pieces to put together a car.

27th Birthday

Mack hard at work

27th Birthday

His masterpiece

Before the centre closed, we checked out a show at the Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre. The last time I watched a show under the domed theatre must have been back in elementary school; an educational film about the stars. On this day we watched The Celestial Railroad. Though the images were quite beautiful, the milky way dissolving into a field of blinking flowers and flying cranes, we really didn’t enjoy the story or the message.

After our visit, we went to Route 99 for dinner. Nothing hits the spot like food at our favourite greasy spoon!

27th Birthday

Beer and poutine FTW!

27th Birthday

Pizza!

For dessert, I made us Mark Bittman’s Brown Betty (isn’t that the most charming name for a dish?). I had a lot of leftover bread from the scalloped tomato dish, and the Brown Betty incorporates quite a bit of fruit, not a bad thing after indulging on more than enough cheese.

A Brown Betty is similar to a bread pudding, with layers of toasted bread (tossed in sugar) and fruit drizzled with a mixture of juice and butter and baked.

27th Birthday

Brown Betty

Unfortunately, the name was better than the result – part of it probably had to do with my poor job of tossing the sugars with the bread, but I was hoping for something with a little more oomph – the sum wasn’t greater than the parts.

We ended the night playing with Mack’s new toy from Santa – his XBOX Kinect. Our favourite game so far is Joy Ride (who doesn’t love a good old racing game?). The coolest thing about the Kinect (besides the limited voice activation features) is the fact that the console takes photos of the players throughout the game.

Kinect Joy Ride

Yes, our steering wheels are really that big

Happy birthday, Mack!

“The Art of the Brick” at the Telus World of Science

“The Art of the Brick” is the newest exhibit at the Telus World of Science, showcasing larger-than-life art sculptures built entirely of LEGO blocks by artist Nathan Sawaya. I knew Mack, being the LEGO fan that he is, would love to visit the exhibit, so we planned a trip there on his birthday.

We arrived a bit later than we anticipated, with just over an hour left to explore the galleries. For this late arrival, we were granted a small discount. We headed straight to the Explorer Gallery, and were greeted by a roomful of colorful displays – some freestanding, some hung on the wall like art, and some needing reinforcement from the wall or ceiling. The spot lighting (probably left over from the Body Worlds exhibit) really made the colors pop.

A one-page guide with the name of each sculpture is available, though it probably would have been more helpful if the installation had been treated more like an art exhibit. Helpful to know on a small mounted placard next to the sculpture would have been the name, number of LEGO blocks used, and perhaps the inspiration behind the piece (for example, of the LEGO picture of Lindsay Lohan).

Guide

The exhibit was nonetheless visually appealing, especially for the child in us. I liked the sheer size of the dinosaur, but the men made of a single color, posed in a look of frozen agony, were the most striking. “The Eye”, a box containing small 3-D figures which, when glanced at from a distance, bore the image of a single eye. This demonstrated a more advanced use of planning – I hope this is the direction Sawaya goes in.

Yellow

Hands

Grey

Me and Dinosaur

Mack and buddies Circle, Triangle, Square

Our only disappointment from the exhibit was that a number of sculptures would be added in January 2009; we thought such omissions should be clear up front.

Shielded behind a curtain was a play area for adults and children alike – Megablocks for those under the age of five, and smaller, regular LEGO blocks for those older. A “City of the Future”, built entirely in “French-fry yellow”, as I heard an attendant describe it, lined the back wall. Patrons were invited to add their own imaginative creations to the city, so Mack and I sat down to create…something.

That’s the real beauty of LEGO, in my opinion anyway. There are no rules, and you do not need a plan prior to approaching the stackable blocks – something will come of it. In the end, Mack and I combined our creations to form a vehicle of sorts, complete with headlights and four wheels. We placed it on what looked to be a roadway, and left the gallery.

Future City

Mack hard at work

Our vehicular contribution

It’s too cool that someone has made a living playing with LEGO blocks. Sawaya also caters to requests, as described on his website, and on a fee-for-service basis, can create a personalized sculpture for you. “The Art of the Brick” is a cool exhibit for both adults and children alike, but wait until January 2009 to attend to make the most of your money.

We didn’t have a lot of time to check out the other galleries, but did take some time to peek at Mystery Avenue, probably my favorite of the permanent exhibits. If we had more time, I wouldn’t have minded actually solving the mystery of the abducted dog, CSI-style.

Mack on what he wishes was the Batpod

I am happy to report that the Telus World of Science isn’t just for kids – the young at heart will also have a great time there. Mack’s photoset is here.