SUMMERHILL Pyramid Organic Winery

Some Summer Summerhill…

This is not a conventional winery.  For good reason this is perhaps the most visited and extraordinary award winning winery in Canada.

photo: d. king

Located in Kelowna, British Columbia, Summerhill has a breathtakingly extensive view overlooking Lake Okanagan coupled with an organic farm-to-table bistro offering culinary creations by award winning chef Jeremy Luypen who works closely with local farmers and growers (I had lunch there and it was excellent) and of course there’s the wine…

great setting for a wedding reception wouldn’t you say? Photo: d. king

Brut on the Beach

Recently I was very fortunate to be a guest of Summerhill’s most interesting and entertaining proprietor Stephen Cipes and his gracious wife Rie at their lakeside home.  It was there, and at the winery tasting room that I got to sample most of the Summerhill wines (all of them organic by the way) that I was not familiar with.  What a treat!

 Before this I cannot believe that I was accustomed to only drinking Summerhill’s “Alive” label red and white wine  (also vegan) bought at my local wine shop.  Back at the winery I discovered so much more. I liked the Robert Bateman series Merlot the best out of all the reds and ended up buying several cases of a mix of red & white varietals with a few rosé & bubbly thrown in.  I’m really picky regarding rosé wine, however for me, theirs is the best I’ve come across to date.  It’s a gorgeous coloured medium-bodied delight.  Plus it’s still summer and Rosé is a solid summer staple. We enjoyed a few bottles at my friend Margeaux’s after leaving Kelowna and moving onto Castlegar.

On their website I discovered so much more information which I’ll share a bit with you below.  For full story you can visit: https://www.summerhill.bc.ca/

The Summerhill *Pyramid is second only to the Great Pyramid of Egypt for alignment and precision. Please see link below for the incredible description because the story  is quite amazing.

Photo: d. king

Driven by conscience and passion:

A former New York commercial real estate developer, Stephen Cipes was the recipient of the prestigious Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, seemingly more a spiritual visionary than Wall Street hard-nose.  One day he just decided to pick up and leave the rat race for cleaner living.  With a dream and a vision,  the Cipes family bought Summerhill Vineyard in 1986, and moved to Kelowna from New York the following year. 

Stephen had a vision to preserve the pristine conditions of his family’s new home in spite of the rapid agricultural and civic development. To protect the Okanagan’s lake and inhabitants, Cipes set out to prove that organic wines are better in every wayin the way they taste and make you feel as well as in their impact on community and environment. The result is that Summerhill has been a hub for organic viticulture in Canada. 

Be a conduit and allow your vision, your dream to come through – and fortify it every day.” – Stephen Cipes.

Photo: d. king

Almost as soon as the Cipes family arrived, the vineyard was transitioned to organic maintenance and replanted with European vinifera winemaking grapes imported from France and Germany.

Summerhill’s first experimental crush of wine was in 1990. This was the same year as the formation of BC VQA (Vintners Quality Assurance), in which the Cipes family took an active role developing. Preliminary meetings to form VQA were hosted by the Cipes family at Summerhill Vineyard.

Stephen’s New York business sense drove the tiny Okanagan wine industry forward in those early years by focusing on making traditional method sparkling wine, producing the most expensive wines the valley had seen to that point, creating the region’s first destination tourist attraction winery, and by bringing international attention with write-ups and glowing wine reviews in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Photo: d. king

His vision was that the pristine Okanagan valley, the northernmost desert viticulture region in the world, had the potential to make the finest wines in the world and bring pride to all Canadians.

Summerhill has accomplished a long list of “firsts” on the way to making this vision a reality.

  • We are Okanagan Valley pioneers in making organic wine, ultra-premium quality wine, and in establishing the model of a tourism destination winery in this beautiful place. We have worked with our provincial government to change rules so as to allow wineries to cater to wine tourists, establishing over twenty new policies for the entire province including the allowance of restaurants at BC wineries.
  • Our team members have sat on boards and committees to help draft the national organic standards for wine in Canada, and we have worked with the BC chapter of Demeter to certify the first biodynamic vineyard and wine in our province.
  • We have integrated Permaculture design principles into our farm and business.
  • The Summerhill Pyramid is the first wine cellar in the world to knowingly integrate sacred geometry for the benefit of the wine.

*https://www.summerhill.bc.ca/Story/The-Pyramid

Can’t get enough of the view from all angles. Photo: d. king

https://www.summerhill.bc.ca/Visit-Us/Pyramid–Kekuli-Gatherings

A Note to Vegans

Summerhill uses no animal byproducts in its winemaking, and is therefore vegan friendly. Some animal byproducts commonly used in winemaking include fish bladders, gelatin, egg whites, milk, and milk byproducts. Summerhill uses none of these ingredients in our wine.

We were once asked whether our Biodynamic practices are vegan friendly. Some biodynamic preparations are made with animal parts, and our farm composts are made with animal manures. These animal parts are not in the wine or in any way touching the grapes. They are used as a medium to create beneficial soil bacteria that aid processes in the grapevine’s immune system. We must leave it to each individual vegan to decide whether the biodynamic preparations are a deal breaker or not.

Be whole unto yourself at all times, and envision the world in which you want to live.”- Stephen Cipes.

The man is full of surprises.  He wrote a book I’m now reading called “All one Era“.  I’m delighted to call Stephen & Rie my friends.

 

Yummy Gluten-Free Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

Since we’re in the heart of blueberry season I thought it timely to offer you this delightful tasting muffin recipe courtesy of my friend Lynn.  She made a batch and we went through them in no time.  

These are, in my opinion, the best tasting gluten-free muffins using healthy ingredients.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Ingredients:

1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt

1 large egg

¼ cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup honey

1 ½ cups spelt flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1 ½ cups frozen or fresh blueberries

4 Tbsp. melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 375F.

Line or grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

In a medium bowl whisk together yogurt, egg, vanilla, milk + honey.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Add blueberries.  Toss to combine.

Add the yogurt mixture, the melted butter and stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Portion the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until tops spring back lightly to touch.

Let muffins cool for a few minutes in the tin before removing them to a cooling rack.

Cool completely.

You won’t be able to eat only one.

Going Blue with BC Blueberries

Did you know…July 15th is BC Blueberry Day!

Don’t you love blueberries?  There’s so many ways to celebrate them. They go with just about everything from cereal and smoothies to enhancing cocktails like sangria.  One of my favorite cakes is a blueberry/lemon. The lemon compliments the blueberries really nicely. Blueberries are delicious, they’re loaded with vitamins and look so pretty.  What’s not to love?
BC Blueberries are a big deal for British Columbia.  Blueberry Day is a way to show appreciation for our province’s hardworking BC blueberry farmers while commemorating the start of the fresh season.
Annually, the BC Blueberry Council begins fresh blueberry season in July. With more than 600 high bush blueberry growers covering more than 30,000 hectares across the province, this is a busy time for the BC Blueberry Council and its members.
Pick your Own Berries
BC Blueberry farmers are offering U pick this summer under special COVID-19 protocols – find the farm closest to you on GoBlueBC.ca.
Restaurants, caterers, and chefs across the province are getting behind BC Blueberries with special menu items. The full list will be published online at GoBlueBC.ca.
For ways on how to incorporate the super berries into your daily routine, visit bcblueberry.com and visit their social media pages @bcblueberries.
BC Blueberry Day is a way to remind us that we should celebrate BC Blueberries all year long. Whether fresh or frozen, BC Blueberries are a versatile pantry-staple that should always be at the top of every shopping list.
I’m so lucky to live here.
Now go out and get some!

Drink Local – the Cider House Rules

Cider has come a long way baby…

The Cider House – Kits   Photo: d. king

…plain old apple cider, while still nicely refreshing, is so last century.

Photo: d. king

Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighborhood welcomes a new player to the vicinity with Vancouver’s first cider tap house and eatery…aptly named The Cider House.  We’re lucky to have them.

Photo: Tamara Gauthier

 I went to their soft opening last Friday with my friend Tamara and we were both pleasantly surprised to see their extended selection.  In fact I wasn’t sure which cider to sample first so I decided to go with a flight of four different types from their extensive tasting menu.  Blackberry Hibiscus, Rosé , Passion Fruit and Oak Aged. All made in house; all excellent.  Tamara sipped on  their local apricot cider.

The food menu looks good too, but I’ll have to go back.  For their opening they ordered pizza from Virtuous Pie on Main St.  Can’t complain.

Me taking a photo of a pretty patron. Photo: Tamara Gauthier
Photo: d. king

The Cider House offers something fresh, good menu, casual charm, welcoming staff, friendly clientele and the location…

Courtenay & Stephanie. Photo: d. king
Photo: Tamara Gauthier
The location. Photo: d. king

Need I say more?  Check them out!

The Cider House

1602 Yew St.

http://ciderhouserules.ca/

Twisted Sisters Baking Co. – a slice of heaven

Sometimes life can be so sweet!

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting.

Cake is for all Occasions. Cake is good for Grieving.  Cake is good for Celebrating.  And if you’re like Marie Antoinette, it also comes in handy for fending off revolutions. 

I’ve been eating a lot of cake lately. Thanks to my friend Tammy and her sister Shelly who’ve started a home baking company featuring a slew of the most delightful varieties.

Tammy Preast (l) and Shelly Dueck (r) Two Twisted Sisters

An amazing assortment of two-tiered & bundt-style whole cakes or by the slice (when available – 4 slice minimum).  Slices are generous too.  They started Twisted Sisters Baking Co. out of a love for baking and when self-isolating during this covid-19 period.  See menu at bottom.

So if there’s one good thing I can say that comes out of this covid period it’s these twisted sisters with their top-quality cakes.

Coincidence of Coconut Cake, 3-tiered layers of coconut delight finished with Coconut Buttercream Frosting and a layer of toasted coconut.  It was moist and super delicious.

 For breakfast this morning I had a piece of fluffy creamsicle cake made with fresh orange juice and a delicious zesty frosting.  Perfect start to the day.  I must admit it was not my first choice, however it surprisingly ended up becoming one of my favourites.  That’s because I normally go for chocolate.

Zesty Orange Cake baked with fresh orange juice & orange zest then finished with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.

Another favourite is the perfectly pink vanilla sour cream almond cake with vanilla almond buttercream frosting. Shelly added lavender to the icing and it was incredible.  In a perfect world I would eat it all day long. But the coconut cake was excellent too as was the old fashioned raspberry/lemon and carrot cake.  Like I said…

If you live in Vancouver and you love cake (I don’t know anyone who doesn’t) then give them a try.  You don’t need an excuse although birthdays, anniversaries and just plain I want cake are good ones to start with.

Pretty in Pink, Almond Vanilla Cake with Almond Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. A lavender twist. This was half a slice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact:

twistedsistersbakingco@gmail.com

T: 778.552.1301

Payment by cash or e-transfer.  Pickup on doorstep in Kitsilano.

Like them on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Twisted-Sisters-Baking-Co-107605324272284/

Fun Food Facts

Little Healthy Tidbits of Info.

Now, more than ever, we must strive to stay the healthiest we can.  We already know what food groups are most beneficial for us, however we don’t always look into the science behind why that is.  Thought it would be of interest to share the science behind An Apple A Day – taken from Edible (the magazine for Vancouver food & wine country).

What role does the proverbial apple-a-day have in keeping the doctor away? The fruit is rich in bacteria, and some of those are highly beneficial to human health. A single apple can carry more than a 100 million microbes, according to a July 2019 article in The Guardian.

Once in your gut, those bacteria colonize and improve your personal microbiome, which research suggests is linked to overall health, including mood and cognition.  In Gut feelings: How food affects your mood (Harvard Health Publishing), Dr. Uma Naidoo reports that 90 percent of serotonin receptors are found in the gut.

Diversity is an important factor for a thriving biome, and organic apples reportedly have a greater range of microbes – yet another reason to choose organically grown apples if you can afford to.  Most of the bacteria will be killed by cooking, so eating the raw fruit will make your biome happiest.

ASIA SF – beyond the Red Door

Lies a truly entertaining experience not to be missed!

Tracy Turco – designer/artist/hostess extraordinaire

Super cool dude Justin Lamb

After witnessing the incredible new super charged dinner nightclub ASIA SF in Palm Springs with friends the other night, I was certain that *SF stood for super fantastic. It was in fact a super fantastic evening sitting at a table of movers & shakers and influencers, starting out with signature cocktails named after our transgender servers.  Servers who doubled as performers. Each of them come out one by one to lip sync and dance to electric music and they give a vibrant impressive performance.  We had a great table too. however there’s really no bad seat in the house as each lovely lady bump and grind their way around, so you cannot miss

Three of our terrific transgender entertainers.

.

Our Table.  Best seat in the house.  Sitting at our table at the very end are Dennis Costa and Tom Beatty of Bouschet and PS Air Lounge.

With Tracy, Tammy & Candy.

Oh; I almost forgot to mention the decadent 5-course Cal Asian inspired cuisine which is part of the package.  Sooo good!

Tasting Menu for Foodies – we had everything on it and it was all superb.

Just Justin with one of the ladies

Tracy & Candy

This is going to become my new favorite hangout.  Aside from the dinner show Wednesday through Sunday starting at 6:00 pm, there’s a cocktail show with bar bites on Friday & Saturday at 8:30 pm which includes admission to The Forbidden City dance club immediately following the show.  I checked out the sexy space.  Trust me; you will feel like dancing!  There’s also an outdoor fountain patio.  I’m so happy I never got rid of my glitter disco pants.

With Tammy (l) and Candy (in middle).  My Tiara was a gift from my dear friend Colleen.

And let’s not forget

There’s the elegant Lotus Lounge open Wednesday through Sunday where is served Happy Hour 3:00-5:00 pm with bar menu available.  It’s a really cozy area with style and a fireplace. Open 3pm – until closing (they didn’t specify the closing time but I’m sure it does indeed close at some point).

*By the way, SF stands for San Francisco as up until now that was the only ASIA transgender dinner nightclub show location. They’ve been doing it for almost 22 years and it’s considered an entertainment landmark.  We’re very fortunate to have them here in Palm Springs.

I think Tracy’s shoes deserve some credit of their own.  One of the fabulous transgender performers (r).

Welcome to Palm Springs!

In closing, this is all to say…..just GO! 

Header Photo: Candy, Tracy, Debbie, Justin, Performer, Claudia (PSPOV), Tammy (Ask a Woman).

www.asiasf.com

760-249-2766

 

PS Air – I love you!

One of my new favorite places:

Bouschet: best described as a specialty marketplace in Palm Springs offering a large selection of fine wines, liquor, craft beer, gourmet specialty foods, exquisite giftware, and an amazing bistro menu, weekly wine tastings, and special events.  Yeah, that’s it.  I’ve been for wine tastings and the other day right after A Curated Collection I had lunch there with friends.  It was pretty darn good.

Al demonstrates to Candy how to use the Napa wine station card which is really cool. You load on the amount of your choice. Then use as a credit card to taste samples, half or full glasses of great wine. Love!

I was also lucky enough to get a sneak peek of a soon to be opened super cool lounge – called PS Air.  My friend Candy introduced me to the owners who obliged us by opening a special bottle of wine reserved for a wine tasting that evening.  It was outstanding.  They were celebrating Black History Month by offering tastings of bottles by black winery owners. This particular wine was owned by the first black winery owners. Siblings Deneen, David & Coral Brown of Napa Valley. The bottle we tried was called Chaos Theory – a wine the Obama’s brought to the White house as one of their favorites.  “Chaos” ha, ha.  Nevermind!

Alison Martino, Candy Shannon Glickman & Kiki Tormo sitting in First Class.  Photo: Candy Shannon Glickman.

Talking with Tom Beatty, one of the co-owners of PS Air – a lounge at the back of the store that is sure to become a Palm Springs Favorite. Opening late March.
About the Dynamic Duo:
Dennis Costa and Tom Beatty have been a successful duo for 22 years. Personally and professionally they have experienced some of the great pleasures that life can bring.

Kiki Tormo – from Candy’s photos.

Dennis comes from an Agricultural and Viticulture background. After a successful dairy business his family planted grapes and grew predominately for Sutter Home. Dennis also worked in his earlier years for Mondavi Wines of Woodbridge, which at that time had only one bottling line. After personally tending to the grapes from planting, growing, and harvesting almost 200 acres, they decided to sell the farm to Sebastiani Vineyards in 1999. 

Tom, a native of Chicago, has worked an illustrious career as an International Flight Attendant for 33yrs. He has traveled to every continent except Antartica – which he claims would just be too cold for him. He has explored the world and enjoyed many different cultures, people, food, and of course wine. Together Dennis and Tom have traveled extensively and have been fortunate to savor some of the finest wines in the world.

Together with their love of wine they created Rainbow Ridge Wines which was featured in Wine Enthusiast Magazine and also Wine & Spirits Magazine. Their first varietal was an obscure grape by the name Alicante Bouschet. This wine received many awards and also ratings of 91 and 90 respectively. You may notice the name BOUSCHET reminiscence of their first endeavor. This wine was magical! 

I’m ready for take off.  Photo: Candy Shannon Glickman.

COME FLY WITH ME!

BOUSCHET – 611 S PALM CANYON DR (same shopping center as Revivals) (map)

simple + super tasting salad

  When was the last time I posted a recipe here?  It’s been a while considering I’m a person who likes to cook.

Spring greens with mixed tuna, fresh peas, green onion + jalapeño.     Photo: d. king

But I’ve been going out a lot and when I’m not, I eat fairly simply at home. Nothing extravagant.  Sometimes I just like to use stuff up in my fridge and see what I can make out of whatever is there.  They say if you can make something out of nothing you’re a good cook.  But this is not even cooking.  Lately I’ve been making this salad here which is only unusual in the sense that I’ve never added two of the ingredients before.  Jalapeños and peas! Whaaat?

Plus, I’ve never loved peas in general.  At least the ones that come canned or frozen.  I’ve been buying the shelled English peas at Trader Joe’s when available.  They’re absolutely delicious. I put them in raw for added crunch.  I also buy the jar of hot/sweet jalapeños. The combination of sweet/tart/hot/savory is a deliciously perfect balance with good fats and fibre thrown into the mix.

Ingredients:

1 can Albacore tuna (you can also use wild salmon or free-range hard boiled eggs).

Mix a can of water-packed albacore tuna with a little mayonnaise (or veggenaise), chopped green onions + black pepper as you would if you were making a sandwich.

Handful of Fresh English Peas (if you can find them.  Otherwise edamame might work).

Organic Spring Mix Lettuces

jalapeños (mix of hot + sweet from a jar OR; finely chopped fresh, to taste).

For dressing drizzle organic extra virgin olive oil (the best you can afford), fresh squeezed lemon and a bit of soy sauce (or Mirin).  s+p to taste (but you won’t need it) That’s it!

Some accidents are meant to be.

 

 

Life/Style: Tracy Turco’s Terrific Tiki Tea Party

If anybody knows how to throw the perfect themed tea party, it’s Tracy Turco.

Sweet Spot. Photo: d. king

Originally from Miami, the multi-faceted entrepreneur now splits her time between living in New York City and Palm Springs.  Fairly new to Palm Springs, Tracy Turco (nee Stern) is quickly becoming the toast of the town.  And for good reason.  She’s like a modern day Renaissance woman.  In fact she’s been called that before in writing in reference to her extremely diverse taste in fashion and décor. Let’s just say it’s never boring.  And I’m happy to call her my friend.

Tracy wears her own design. My dress by Trina Turk.

Husband Jerry looks on as Tracy cuts into her exquisite birthday cake from Over the Rainbow desserts. It was Over the Top good. Photo: d. king

The sweet life. Tracy made some of these herself. All amazingly good. Photo: d. king

On Sunday I had the pleasure of celebrating her birthday alongside her husband Jerry, their friends and a few neighbors in their fabulous Tiki inspired home in the Little Tuscany neighborhood of Palm Springs.  The dress code was colorful to blend in with the  surroundings, including a canary yellow T-bird convertible classic parked outside the entrance.  Or shall we call it a TEA bird?

Tracy really has a natural flair for throwing it all together in a seemingly effortless looking fashion.  She’s a gracious host and we all enjoyed the best sweet little treats ever while sipping on champagne, wine and of course, tea.  Mind you, not just every day tea.  Especially mixed by Tracy herself, very elegant, unusual and delicious. They are blended with an artist’s palette. In fact, Tracy’s premier tea collection Salon Tea, once earned her a spot in Oprah’s Favorite Things.  Always full of surprises, I just learned that she previously owned a Salon Tea on South Granville Street in Vancouver.

Iced Tea and Tea Party book by Tracy Turco. Photo: d. king

Tea is only a part of what Tracy is passionate about. She’s an artist, art collector, animal advocate, author, designer, hotelier.  I hope I didn’t leave anything out. Oh yes, one more thing…she has a good heart by offering a philanthropic donation to the public art fund  from anyone staying at her new Art Hotel.  A tiki hotel is next.  She is both a savvy business woman and a nice overall person in general.

For those who are inclined to do so themselves, Tracy has written two incredible DIY books: Tea Party and Tea For You.  Link below.

Tiki House. Photo: Tammy Preast

A few guests perfectly blending in with the surroundings. Photo: d. king

Outside the house with Michael and Tammy.

Website:

https://www.tracystern.com/

Book:

https://www.amazon.com/Tea-Party-Occasion-Fabulous-Gatherings/dp/0307346439

Drink Tea.  Enjoy Life.  Celebrate Often.

Good Advice!