FOOD: going on safari with agave

To help celebrate cinco de mayo and in conjunction with the Vancouver International Tequila Expo here are three exciting FOOD & DRINK events planned for this month – Vancouver Agave Week:food6

EAST VAN TACO SAFARI -­ Tuesday May 26th – 7pm

Have you been wanting to try a bunch of the up and coming Taco restaurants but haven’t had the time to do it right? This is the event for you! 20120315-196564-tacos-matamorosYou will start the evening at Taco Bar Gastown and then we’ll transport you to points east to enjoy tacos with tequila and mezcal pairings at Los Cuervos Taqueria, Sal y Limon (new this year!), La Mezcaleria, Tacofino Commissary, before returning to Taco Bar Gastown to end the night with…you guessed it -­ more tacos and mezcal! A unique way to spend the ULTIMATE Taco Tuesday!  Tickets: $79.95

COOKING & PAIRING WITH AGAVE -­ Wednesday May 27th – 7 pm

Are you interested in a complete culinary experience? We’ve paired with the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts to create a unique evening of Cooking and Pairing with Agave. You will spend the evening in the school’s kitchen with PICA’s chef instructors learning to cook a Mexican inspired meal and unique food and agave pairings. It’s hands on -­ from the preparation to the tasting. We have just 24 spots in this unique full participation event. Tickets: $120

DOWNTOWN FOOD & AGAVE SAFARI -­ Thursday May 28th – 7pm

Join us for the first ever Downtown Food & Agave Safari! We’ll be experiencing delicious food and drink pairings as we visit some of Vancouver’s top restaurants and watering holes. We start at Joe Fortes Seafood & Chophouse, and then we’ll board a trolley to culinary nirvana – exploring gastronomic delights at every stop -­ all exquisitely paired with tequila and mezcal to sip alongside the chefs’ creations! Stops at: Joe Fortes Seafood & Chophouse, Coast, Lift Bar & Grill, and Left Bank, before heading to Uva Wine and Cocktail Bar to end the night with…more culinary goodness paired with agave spirits!  Tickets: $95

To order tickets and for more information


The ART of FINE AGAVE – Vancouver International TEQUILA EXPO

Tequila may be a girls second best friend!tequila6tequila4

Take life with a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila!

Take life with a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila!

But with the finest of them you may omit the salt and the lime, and it will be completely genuine!  Let these spirits lift yours!

If the upcoming Fourth Annual Vancouver International Tequila Expo (VITE)
taking place on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel is anything like the one my friends raved about last year, it will be a raging success.

Joe Fortes sponsored a recent VITE media event which I was lucky enough to attend.  While I’m no connoisseur, I can attest to sampling several exceptionally smooth & outstanding varieties from a host of participating dealers. Last October I spent some time in Oaxaca, Mexico so I became more familiar with Mexcal and was delighted to find some here too.tequila2

tequila1¡Viva tequila! 

It’s a celebration of all things agave – without the blue agave plant there would be no tequila.

The Hyatt Regency event will run from 7 to 10 pm and is presented by First Majestic and sponsored by Legacy Liquor Store, the BMW Store, Joe Fortes, Sysco Vancouver, Tourism Mexico and La Mezcaleria.  This year will feature 100% agave mezcals alongside the wide range of 100% agave tequilas, including exclusive offerings not yet available in BC.tequla7

The evening will feature unique samples of Mexican food pairings by restaurants including Joe Fortes, Sysco Vancouver, La Mezcaleria and Mosaic Bar & Grille.

The Peloton de La Muerte Cocktail Competition will be a returning feature of the show, where a selection of Vancouver’s expert bartenders will have the opportunity to showcase their own agave-based creations, in a friendly competition meant to show off their versatility of agave-based spirits.


Mexcal Selection

Legacy Liquor Store (purveyors of premium spirits) will be hosting an onsite-liquor store for the first time that will feature products available at the show.

Tickets are on sale until they run out through Tickets Tonight.  Single tickets are $69, with a group rate of 6 people+ available for a reduced price of $59.

Not just another pretty bottle!

Not just another pretty bottle. Much more depth!

INTERESTING FACTS you may not know about Tequila:

It’s one of the most misunderstood drinks, surrounded by years of myths and legends – just another reason to love it.

To Be Called Tequila, It Must Be Produced In Mexico.  Just as true champagne must hail from France, tequila has Denomination of Origin, meaning that it has to be produced in Mexico, mainly in the western Mexican state of Jalisco. The states of Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas are also acceptable.

Tequila Is Technically A Mezcal. 

But mezcal is not tequila. Got that? The main difference between the two is the plant. All tequila must be produced using blue agave, whereas a variety of agave plants can be used to make a single mexcal batch.

If you’re scared of the worm, don’t be!  They’re found in mezcal, not tequila.  The worm, or gusano, actually originated largely as a marketing ploy.  It is the larvae of a type of moth that lives on the agave plant.

The Machete Used To Chop Agave Leaves Is Called A “Coa”…and it has circular blades. The Men Who Use The Coa Are Called Jimadors.

Have a heart!tequila2 Only The Agave Heart Is Used To Make Tequila.

Tequila Does NOT Contain Psychedelic Properties.  Then how do you explain…nevermind!  In the mid-20th century, tequila sales spiked after California residents thought it was a psychadelic. Nope. They were just confusing mezcal with mescaline (the psychoactive alkaloid of peyote).

You Can Turn Tequila Into Diamonds.  You don’t say! Physicists at  the National Autonomous University of Mexico figured out a way to make artificial diamonds out of tequila. Sadly, the synthetic diamonds are too small to be turned into jewelry, but they can be used for an array of electronic and industrial purposes.

Serious Tequila Aficionados Generally Don’t Do Shots.  Instead,  they sip tequila from a special tequila glass or brandy snifter. That way, the agave flavours and aromas can be properly enjoyed.

A Bottle Of Tequila Can Last Unopened For Years. But really, does yours stay unopened for that long??

However, once you open a bottle, you have about one to two months before oxidation and evaporation lower the quality of the tequila and destroys the agave profile. So, you want to drink up within 3 to 6 months, at which point it becomes more like a bourbon.Tequila1

HEALTH FACTS (YES, that’s right).

Studies have shown that if consumed in moderation, tequila can cut the risk of dementia by 37%.

It also has a component that can help lower LDL levels, aka bad cholesterol.

Unlike other forms of alcohol, tequila is not a depressant.

As with most alcohol, tequila can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 30-40%.

The blue agave plant has components that can help stimulate the immune system and fight obesity.

 Just make sure to enjoy it responsibly.

Photos: d. king

Source for facts: huffington post,

contemplating the MASKS WE WEAR

Two weeks ago I posted about artist Judith Henry who incorporates masks as part of her mixed-media artwork compositions that explore the various roles we play. downloadShe hides behind a mask and becomes part of her canvas (above), just as we sometimes hide a part of our personality in certain settings and depending on the situation.

It got me thinking about the ‘masks’ we all wear, to what extent we tend to layer ourselves at times and the reasons why.  I don’t know the psychology behind it, but I think it’s fairly simple to explain.

In theory, ‘masks’ are a persona that we put on top of the ‘real thing.’ It is a version of our ‘true selves.  It’s not necessarily that we aren’t being authentic, but we can edit our personalities and decorate the versions we prefer to share to the world.masks-we-wear-image

Why do we feel the need to do this?

What they shield are those parts of us that for whatever reasons, we don’t like or accept; or that others need us to hide to make them feel more comfortable. Or we don’t feel comfortable telling the complete truth for fear of breaking down so we are in actuality protecting ourselves from being hurt, our pride from rejection or to keep us from looking like a complete fool. Okay, maybe it’s not so simple after all.

I’m sure that if everyone let down their complete guard to anyone who asked “how are you today” people might be surprised and not be able to fully accept or handle exactly how you’re really doing. It’s keeping a barrier of politeness and having boundaries. In other words, “not wearing your life on your sleeve” at the first introduction.

Then there are societal rules that make it easier for us to fit in so we can adapt to situations like when we’re looking for work or meeting new people for the first time. We don’t want to appear too needy or too shy but sometimes we are exactly that.  That’s just the rules of the game folks.

Interesting subject though don’t you think? 

I'm just great, thank you very much!

I’m just great, thank you very much…Sure!

Two poems on the matter:

“She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.” –  Shel Silverstein, Every Thing On It

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,–
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask! – Paul Laurence Dunbar

Health MATTERS: Turmeric Root Extract Theracurmin™

Rooted in Tradition, Enhanced by Sciencecumin-690x271It was suggested to me recently that I look into Theracurmin capsules.  I already know the benefits of ingesting Turmeric and many other spices – part of the reason that I decided to make curries again was because of using the various amounts of spices required.  My aim is to incorporate tasty meals that have health benefits to boot.  Sometimes it also helps to supplement.

Here is an article by Dr. Michael T. Murray for living naturally which explains the benefits of this natural product.Profiles

The root of the turmeric plant (Curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family, has been used in India for thousands of years as the principal spice in curry and as an Ayurvedic medicine for supporting the body’s natural inflammatory response system. A century ago turmeric’s primary active compound, curcumin, was isolated. This valuable natural compound gives turmeric its vibrant yellow color and its medicinal qualities. An explosion of scientific research, literally thousands of studies, with curcumin has deepened and expanded our understanding of curcumin’s unique health effects in supporting many body functions. While much research has documented curcumin’s effects, most research has focused on in vitro (test tube) or animal studies. The big shadow over curcumin is that in humans its oral absorption (bioavailability) is quite low and once it is absorbed it is rapidly changed to other compounds or broken down. Clinical studies show that amounts as high as 12 grams of curcumin powder failed to significantly raise blood levels. To address this issue of poor bioavailability, a number of processing techniques have been developed to enhance the absorption of curcumin. Natural Factors Curcumin Rich Turmeric Root Extract contains Theracurmin, a natural turmeric extract preparation with by far the highest absorption profile.

What is Theracurmin?

Theracurmin is an all-natural preparation that utilizes advanced techniques to reduce the particle size of curcumin then disperse it with a very unique natural suspension to dramatically increase its solubility. The result is a dramatic increase in the absorption of curcumin compared to all other commercial forms tested, including other enhanced forms of curcumin. At equal dosage levels, Theracurmin produces blood levels in human and animal studies that are 30-40 times greater than regular curcumin.

 Theracurmin Increases “Free” Curcumin

Theracurmin is the only curcumin preparation to demonstrate a clear dose response. What this means is that even small dosages of Theracurmin increase blood measurements of curcumin and as the dosage Turmeric Root Extract Theracurmin™ Highly Bioavailable Curcumin increases so does the blood level. This increase is linear, meaning that it increases in the blood in a parallel fashion to the dosage. This absorption profile is extremely important as the effectiveness of curcumin within the body requires achieving effective concentrations. Theracurmin is able to achieve necessary concentrations within the body that are not likely to be easily achieved, if at all, with other curcumin preparations. In addition to being poorly absorbed, curcumin is rapidly metabolized in the liver. When measuring levels of curcumin in the blood during absorption studies the value of curcumin is based upon total curcuminoids including metabolites. The only product form that has shown to actually increase the free curcumin form is Theracurmin. As free curcumin is significantly more active than the metabolites, it is extremely likely that Theracurmin is not only better absorbed, but it also produces additional benefits compared to other supplemental forms of curcumin.

What Are The Benefits of Theracurmin?

What research has continually documented is that curcumin is highly pleiotropic, meaning it exerts multiple actions. Foremost is curcumin’s ability to influence many factors involved when normal inflammatory processes get out of balance. It has also demonstrated significant effects in preventing the accumulation of compounds associated with premature aging. For example, beta-amyloid is a compound linked to aging in the brain. It is kind of like a biochemical scar in brain tissue that reflects damage due to inflammation. Curcumin is showing great promise in preserving brain health by preventing the accumulation of beta-amyloid. However, in order for this benefit to be realized, it must be absorbed. Here are some of the other benefits shown with curcumin: • Potent antioxidant • Supports the body’s natural inflammatory response system • Promotes the liver’s ability to detoxify.

 How Much Theracurmin Do I Need?

The suggested usage of Theracurmin based upon current clinical evaluation is 150 to 300 mg per day. Although this amount is significantly lower than many other forms of curcumin, keep in mind that the amount of curcumin you take is not as important as how much you absorb.

Dr. Michael T. Murray is one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine. He has published nearly 30 books, including the best-selling Encyclopedia of Healing Foods and The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicine. He is chairman of Dr. Murray Natural Living, Inc. and director of product development at Natural Factors, which produces a line of vitamins and supplements. He is a graduate and faculty member of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.

Here is my healthful morning TEA with TUMERIC recipe:20150501_094849

Squeeze a few slices of lemon & fresh ginger into a mug and pour very warm to moderately hot water over top. Add about a tsp. each of cayenne pepper & powdered tumeric,   Sprinkle a bit of dried cinnamon and add a tsp. of honey. Mix, drink & enjoy.

Feel-good Friday: Pitbulls in Flower Crowns

Why; is that so weird?pittbull10

I crown this Save a Pitbull Day!pittbull7What can be more uplifting than these Instagram photos…just be a CAUSEpittbull6As a way to find shelter pitbulls happy homes, New York City photographer Sophie Gamand takes ethereal shots of them wearing adorable homemade flower crowns.pittbull4

“I volunteer at animal shelters a lot, but I always tense around pit bulls because of things I’d heard in the media. I wanted to confront my apprehensions.” pittbull3“After researching, I found out that more than one million pit bulls are euthanized each year in the US,” she said. “Then the project started feeling more important to me.”pittbull2“Shoots can take one minute, or thirty minutes,” says the photographer. “It completely depends on the dog.” Gamand makes a unique flower crown for each pup.pitbull5Now try to top hat that??

I deserve to be saved

I deserve to live

Won’t it make you feel good to save a dog (not just a pittbull, but any dog) from being euthanized?

As told to Bazaar Magazine

beauty: Anti anti-aging!

Are you as tired as I am of hearing all the buzz surrounding anti-aging marketing?

All the advertising in magazines, newspapers and the internet implies that most of us are not content to imagesage gracefully.

While this advertising is aimed at women primarily, lots of men are paying attention too, but I find the ads are misleading. No product on earth should make these claims unless they can actually back it up with proven research (without those cheesy re-touched before & after pictures).  How many of them can?

It’s not so much the fact of getting older but rather, looking older. If there was a magic pill to turn back the clock I’m sure everyone would take it.  In the meantime, and eventually, aging is going to happen – deal with it! The notion that age can and should be transcended underlies an industry that has profits in the billions in the United States alone. Paired with the spending power and consumer habits of a characteristically youth-oriented generation, the search for a means of taking control of and ultimately conquering age has been met with a surge in available products and procedures to meet this demand.

Photo: huffington post-uk

Photo: huffington

While I’m not against those who opt for plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures, the numbers of those choosing to have them frighten me.

How about good old natural measures? We can age gracefully and stay youthful depending on how well we treat ourselves and our surrounding environment.  What about using common sense and doing the best we can to stay strong and healthy.  What we should most be concerned about is avoiding stress. If you have a lot of stress it will age you faster than anything.

Naturally good genes are a bonus, but you can eat well, exercise in moderation, try to get enough sleep, don’t drink too much, be nice to yourself, treat others well, find humour in life and use good products. (My conscience tells me not to use those tested on animals)  There is no compromising in these areas. Not only will you feel better but it will make you look good on the outside too.

Some skincare products can help prevent further wrinkles from forming and certain vitamins can help further the aging process but they can’t do all the work. You have to work together.  But no matter what you do, the facts show that having a lot of stress (which we all do at times) in life weakens your system and in turn can contribute to sickness and aging. I suppose this is where meditation comes in handy (for those who know how to do it properly) and taking time out for yourself.

I don’t think anyone truly has all the answers but for me personally I find taking a long walk in fresh air helps to clear up thinking.  Lately I’ve gone back to yoga (or semi-yoga, semi-workout since I’ve been breaking out a sweat) classes to help me work on my “core” issues. Seeing the results makes me feel better and makes me want to continue to get in the best shape I possibly can.  Listening to music while cooking is another relaxer and dancing is always lots of fun.  Anything that lifts your spirits is good for you. Shouldn’t we be concentrating on that.

mind you, there's something about his ad I like

Speaking of lifting your spirits, there’s something about this ad I like

What do you do to look after yourself?

style – the latest SCOOP for Spring

Spring Fashion is popping up all over SCOOP, Vancouver’s favourite pop-up shop.1-carousel

So what could be better than perusing the aisles while listening to music played by a deejay with a glass of bubbly in hand? That’s what happened when I attended their blogger evening last week at the South Granville Location.scoop2 - CopyWhat used to be a rather small operation for up to six weeks at a time has turned out to be two store locations for all seasons. At present, Scoop is open for 6-8 weeks at certain times of the year. Those times being Spring/Summer and November/December.scoop3

Owner Deb Nichol strives to keep each of the Scoop locations fresh and exciting by creating a bit of a buzz surrounding the night before each opening so it’s always a surprise.scoop4The thing about Scoop is that there’s so much turnover of merchandise that each time you set foot inside you find something different. They source merchandise and get inspiration by traveling to places like New York, LA, Vegas, Atlanta and Toronto. Besides clothing, they offer jewellery, cards, candles and wall hangings. If you don’t scoop up something fast you may never see it again. Then again, I did come across a pair of linen pants I once purchased that they brought back the following year. Must have been a popular item. Normally I don’t want to see something repeated, but in this case I wanted another pair anyway so it was a good thing.




The Latest Scoop on S. Granville – 2928 Granville St.

The Latest Scoop in West Vancouver – 2470 Marine Dr.

Food & Wine – California Wine Fair

“I wish they all could be California Wines”

To SIP and to SAVOUR

To SIP and to SAVOUR

The 35th annual California Wine Fair Ballroom Tasting is the largest tasting of its kind in Vancouver.  I attended “The Arts Club” hosted event (in partnership with the Wine Institute of California) last night from what I can recall at the Vancouver Convention Centre.  This was one of three California wine-inspired fundraisers taking place this month.

The Prisoner - a favourite

A rep holds up The Prisoner – a favourite

As much as I would have like to, I couldn’t possibly have sampled all of the 350 wines from over 100 highly-regarded wineries that participated.  I might have managed about half of that.  Among the classic labels with interesting vintages, there were new favourites from an abundance of family run and boutique operations.winefair2

One of particular interest is Dancing Coyote, a family owned & operated old-world style vineyard located in a beautiful stretch of land in California’s Clarksburg appellation.  They’ve been farming in the Delta region along the Sacramento River for five generations. They make a wonderul Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah.

I really enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Vineyard Inc.  No wonder, as their Director of Export explained to me that they were the very first winery to plant the grapes in the Dry Creek Valley area, in 1972.  The Cabernet Sauvignon is excellent too.

Chateau St. Jean is a winery that is known for always producing exceptional wines.  An interesting tidbit: their winemaker, Margo Van Staaveren was the first woman to win winemaker of the year in 2010 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine which helped to put Sonoma on the map.

Forgive me if I've Zinned too much lately

I’ve Zinned & loved it!

While I don’t discriminate against any great wine growing region, I have a special affinity for these wines because of having been to many of the vineyards while traveling through California. Places like Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Monterey, Lodi & Temecula.   I can tell you one thing, the choices are getting broader for which wines will go with which dishes. I also love hearing the stories about how the wineries got their names.

These wine makers work with great care and passion to product wonderful vintages which keep getting better and better.  All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable sipping and mingling evening.  I hope to attend again next year.

Have you been?

Art/Nature – GREEN PORNO

The iconic Isabella Rossellini was in Vancouver to perform her provocatively acclaimed and comedic one-woman show Green PornoGreenPorno-Sold-Out-1200x590at a sold out, one night only performance Saturday night at the Vancouver Playhouse.  Presented by The Vancouver PuSh Festival and the Italian Cultural Centre.

Green Porno, explores the fascinating sex lives of land and sea creatures. C’mon, tell me you haven’t ever wondered? Encouraged by actor-filmmaker Robert Redford (who is tremendously supportive of experimental, independent films and very interested in nature), Green Porno was originally a popular web series for the Sundance Channel. Green Porno featured Rossellini live on stage discussing and acting out the scientifically accurate reproductive habits of marine animals and insects in an extremely entertaining manner.  The opportunity to learn about the mating habits of some creatures which aim to astonish anyone.

I am personally fascinated by the femme fatale of all insects –the female praying mantisShe always devours the male after mating, sometimes even during if she can’t waitI can understand this if he doesn’t please her and his services are no longer required; but must this always happen?

Rossellini exposes the intricate and often surprising reproductive rituals of the natural world—from pachyderms (very large mammals with thick skin, like an elephant or rhino) to bugs (no need to explain) to shed light on the fragile balance of our ecological future, to which humans are inextricably linked. From stage, Rossellini delivered a riveting presentation with props, costumes and remarkable wit and charm, accompanied by her Green Porno short films.

I had the opportunity of catching up with the glowing Rossellini at a reception following her performance. I asked how her daughter Elettra was doing. No surprise to find out she’s a successful New York model (discovered by Bruce Weber), and has a very interesting food blog (which I will talk about soon, since this blog is about Isabella’s show). But I can’t stop…In 2014, Elettra hosted the first ever Live Stream of the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Gala.  She’s founded a charity called “*One Frickin Day” for which she won the “Young Environmentalist Award” in 2011, among other things. I am so impressed by everything this woman is setting out to accomplish or already has. Needless to say, her mother is very proud.

I found out that my green porno name is “Black Widow” (be careful, I bite!)

Rossellini’s films include Blue Velvet (a personal favourite), Cousins (filmed in Vancouver), Immortal Beloved, The Saddest Music in the World and many more.  She was the face of Lancôme Cosmetic Company for 14 years and had a modelling career that lasted for 25 years. Isabella was recently seen in the romantic comedy Late Bloomers.  She’s still blooming.

*A charity aimed at equipping PIH clinics (Partners in Health) throughout the third world with solar power via another partner, Solar Electric Light Fund.

Contemplating the Conscious

Being conscientious means you have a conscious.  If everyone listened to their conscious it would likely be a better world.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity – Martin Luther King, Jr.


And it is only through constant training that the two can learn how to work together.  From THE HAPPY SHOW.

There are two kinds of artists in this world; those that work because the spirit is in them, and they cannot be silent if they would, and those that speak from a conscientious desire to make apparent to others the beauty that has awakened their own admiration – Anna Katharine Green (American poet and novelist).
 Then there’s pre-consciousness. Freud‘s original German term for the preconscious was das Vorbewusste.  He claimed:

“If consciousness is then the sum total of everything of which we are aware, pre-consciousness is the reservoir of everything we can remember, all that is accessible to voluntary recall: the storehouse of memory. This leaves the unconscious area of mental life to contain all the more primitive drives and impulses influencing our actions without our necessarily ever becoming fully aware of them, together with every important constellation of ideas or memories with a strong emotional charge, which have at one time been present in consciousness but have since been repressed so that they are no longer available to it, even through introspection or attempts at memory.”