Bring Back Better Baking

It’s simple

Bliss Bakery; Peachland, Okanagan, B.C.          Photo: d. king

“Imagine a world where the craftsmanship of the baker, the fragility of our planet, the integrity of the organic farmer, the strength of community and the simplicity of real food are valued and nourished.” – True Grain Vision (True Grain Bakehouse; Summerland).

The Art of Artisan baking gets resurrected with three outstanding places I recently visited on my B.C. road trip to the Okanagan and Kootenays.  Granted; the main focus was on visiting wineries and friends, however we can never overlook a good burger, sandwich or cinnamon bun.  And cookies!  And Brownies!

True Grain Bakehouse; Summerland, Okanagan, B.C. Photo: d. king

As Bliss Bakery says: “many people are unaware that so many bakeries today do not make their own products; rather they bring in mixes or sometimes even fully baked items and present it as their own – have you ever wondered why those Nanaimo Bars look so similar at all the different bakeries you go to?

Staying True to the Grain:  True Grain Bakehouse uses 100 % BC-farmed organic grain which they stone mill for everything. From ancient & heritage grains like Einkorn, Emmer, Rye, Khorasan and Spelt, to heritage wheat like Canada’s own Red Fife, they buy direct from organic farmers close to home.

Photo: d. king

“Each day our talented bakers make hundreds of loaves and pastries by hand, using tried and tested European-inspired recipes.  We don’t skimp on quality, and we never cut corners. The result is bread that is wholesome, full of flavour, and is simply a joy to eat.”

I wasn’t planning on this but a woman in front of me convinced me to buy a package.  I mean, if you’re going to indulge… make it worthwhile.  Photo: d. king

Amazing Grains.  Photo: d. king

Greener Pastures and a Community Lifestyle in Chilliwack, B.C.

The Yellow Deli was orginally started in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1973 and spread out to other countries.  This place is not a 9-to-5 job for the people who work here. This is a true “group effort” as everyone lives and works together. They live communally on a nearby farm where all the food served at The Yellow Deli is from.  Everything is so fresh and delicious.

From Farm to Tableliterally. This is a place you don’t want to miss if you’re passing through Chilliwack whether it’s for a bowl of soup, sandwich or a salad. Photo: d. king

Taken from the website: their group is a part of the-first-century-church which in essence lives in the pattern of the original church of Jerusalem 30 AD.  They are going back to the way it was originally. They hope to see many things that have gone off course be restored to the “way it was supposed to be.” 

“Obviously our hope for this world goes far beyond what politicians are promising these days, but we have high hopes and we believe we’ll see them fulfilled.”

So as you can see, there’s a lot more to the Yellow Deli than a great looking sandwich. But if you want one, they have it!

Bristol Bay Sandwich

I had the veggie burger which was the best tasting ever (with Chilliwack corn as part of what was in it).  Paul took out a cinnamon bun to which I had a bite and made sure to get one on the way back.  

Do you have a special bakery where you live?

Bliss Bakery; Peachland. Photo: d. king




Maybe it’s because I’m a wine lover

or maybe it’s because I’m going back to the Okanagan this week, but I wanted to check on the meaning behind some of the organic wine farming terminology.  And I thought you might want to know too.

We’re all familiar with organic and how farming without pesticides is much healthier for everyone, with a very meaningful benefit to the environment.

Biodiversity plays a key role in organic farming and we’re hearing the word “Biodynamic” a lot…but what is it?

For our friends at Summerhill/Pyramid winery in Kelowna, these organic + biodynamic practices have been standard and an integral part of wine making since it was purchased by the Cipes family in 1986.

There’s always a riesling for everything! But hey; I’m not even a huge reisling fan and this is my favourite. Not too sweet with just the right balance. An off-dry experience of lemon-lime, peach and green apple.

Shared from their newsletter:

Biodynamic Farming Considered the grandfather to organics, was introduced by Rudolf Steiner in 1924. This concept encouraged a more holistic approach to agriculture, prioritizing sustainable soil health and encouraging biodiversity. By balancing the interrelationship of soil, plants, and animals, we create a closed system where nothing is wasted. Summerhill was certified by Demeter International in 2012 and remains British Columbia’s only certified biodynamic vineyard.

Taken from Summerhill/Pyramid website

At the core of biodynamic farming is living in harmony with nature, harvesting soulful, beautiful food and returning nutrient back to the earth.

Biodiversity plays a key role in organic farming.  Since we don’t use any synthetics in our vineyards, we must encourage nature to fill ecological niches and maintain balance.  By allowing flowering plants to grow between the rows, we provide a home for beneficial insects such as ladybugs and praying mantises.  The natural flora also help to improve our soil life and water retention, important elements to growing quality grapes! 

Anthony Gismondi on wine gave this 90 points. He has this to say: Muscat is not for everyone, but it can be alluring when it’s as right as this one. Fragrant and floral from jasmine to orange blossoms, this wine brings it all to the table. I tried it and totally agree.

Our home vineyard is 17 hectares where natural springs emerge on the property, and join with creeks to create a beautiful wetland nature sanctuary that supports a variety of species.

Summerhill is committed to producing 100% organic wine.  Our Kelowna vineyard entered the certification program in 1988, and has received Demeter Biodynamic certification in 2012. In addition, our winemaking is also certified organic, allowing us to display the Canadian certified organic logo on our bottles, ensuring you can expect a high level of quality and purity.

Sidenote from Girl who would be King: might I add that their wine tastes better and doesn’t give you a headache (unless of course you really over indulge but that’s not what I’m talking about).  That’s not to say that I drink “only organic”  (although it is my preference to do so), however there is unfortunately not enough “all organic” wineries so I do try other wines and like many of them.  My only hope is that all wineries follow suit and go the Summerhill route to a healthier way of living/drinking.

Cheers to a good week ahead!


Living Wine + Living Well

The Rio Theatre is alive and well. So is the Canadian “Living Wine” premiere I attended there last night with a delightful pre-show wine tasting. The VIP wine tasting experience highlighted a number of thoughtfully curated living, biodynamic, and organic wines from local producers and distributors. Plus a special glass of Else Wines’ ‘Muscat on Skins.’

You’ve got to hand it to the Rio.  This multidimensional independent theatre is a Vancouver classic!  It has it all. Although it was touch ‘n go for a while it’s now going stronger than ever. I just found out about the wine tasting/film combo by attending a movie there the week prior – Downton Abbey “A New Era” – which was fabulous.

Summerhill Selectiona few of my favourites shown here! Proprietor Stephen Cipes was instrumental in fighting for organic practices for wine making in the Okanagan, B.C.  A true pioneer.  It’s happening little by little.

There’s so many great things about the Rio.  For starters it’s conveniently located steps away from the Commercial Drive/Broadway Skytrain Station if you want to leave your car behind.  They show everything from Cult Classics to must-see feature films.  They have live entertainment including comedy and burlesque festivals, local musicians and fashion shows.  Also Live Satellite for Oscars, Grammys, UEFA Euro Soccer and other events.

They have the best concession in the city and they serve only real buttered popcorn – the absolute best!

 “LIVING WINE” the documentary must-see for wine enthusiasts:

This documentary merges sweeping wine country footage with insightful interviews with wine makers. Filmmaker Lori Miller showcases the dynamic natural wine movement that is transforming a growing number of Northern California vineyards.

The natural wine movement in the U.S. is about 25 years behind the organic food movement, and “Living Wine” follows innovative natural winemakers in Northern California who stay true to their disparate and unique artistic and ecological visions, while managing to save their businesses during the worst wildfire season on record.

As we start to learn about farming grapes naturally – no chemical inputs of any kind – our experts: Dr. Tim LaSalle (Center for Regenerative Agriculture) and Elizabeth Candelario (Mad Agriculture) explain that chemicals used to make ammunition for bombs during World War II became repurposed as synthetic fertilizer after the war, and that agriculture is a major cause of climate change as the tilling of soil causes carbon release and soil degradation, and the use of chemical inputs (fertilizers pesticides, and herbicides) contaminate our waterways. We later learn about the processes used to make conventional wine – lots of additives and manipulation of flavors in the production process.

The doc delves into farming techniques, philosophies, and spirituality.A must-see for wine enthusiasts.

More ABOUT the Rio:

Built in 1938, the Rio has been fully restored with a state of the art digital projector, surround sound, a huge stage for live events, and 420 comfortable seats (with adjustable arms in case you’re on a date).

In 2012, The Rio won a hard fought battle with the BC Liquor board, to change the liquor laws so that movie theatres could serve alcohol. Since the BC Liquor Laws were changed in 2012, The Rio has full bar service with a wide range of local Craft beer & cider, local organic wines, mixed drinks & cocktails, plus their signature artisan Grilled Cheese sandwiches!  Pretty amazing, right?

I mean…c’mon!

Local boy Ryan Reynolds helped save the Rio.  The actor was a vocal supporter of ongoing efforts to secure funding for the historic venue and stave off a bid from a potential new owner that could have seen the demise of the theatre.

He tweeted: The Rio Theatre in Vancouver is legendary. Spoiler Alert: I plan to be buried there. 

An Instagram message from Ryan Reynolds:

Photos: d. king

Living Wine Trailer:

Rio Calendar:

Tea or Coffee?

What’s your preference?

For me it’s definitely coffee first thing in the morning and if I have tea it’s always mid-afternoon.

It becomes a ritual more than anything.  The preparation, the smell of fresh coffee beans and the perfect cup.  Not to mention the daytime perk and a few other benefits.

After years of studies that seemed to swing between dire warnings and cheery promises about what our favourite caffeinated beverages do and don’t do, much of the recent science regarding coffee and tea is generally positive.

According to what some clinical dietitians have to say for tea vs coffee for health benefits: drinking tea has been linked to lower risks of cancer and heart disease, improved weight loss, and a stronger immune system. Meanwhile, studies point to coffee as a potential way to head off not just Parkinson’s but type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and heart problems. 

Drinking too much of either can have an opposite effect.  Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world, and if you have low iron levels, excessive tea intake may exacerbate your condition. Excess caffeine intake from tea may reduce melatonin production and disrupt sleep patterns.

For coffee it can be increased anxiety and poor sleep (especially if you drink it at night).

But let’s face it, almost anything in moderation is okay and almost everything in excessive amounts is not. Maybe the best thing is to have a little bit of both.

Of all the various types of teas we can choose green tea is often touted as the healthiest tea. It is chock full of polyphenols and antioxidants that help to boost brain and heart health. Green tea is considered one of the least processed true teas as it does not undergo oxidation. But it’s not always the best tasting. You have to go for high end Chinese green teas which are pan-fired or roasted featuring toasty and earthy flavors. Japanese green teas are steamed resulting in floral and vegetal tastes. I always ask my friend who lives in Tokyo to bring me back powdered matcha when she comes to visit. My neighbour has brought me back very nice green teas from China.

As far as coffee is considered, drinking it black is best because of the micronutrients, including potassium, magnesium, and niacin. The effects of coffee vary widely based on the type of bean, the brand of coffee, the roast, and the brewing method. I do French press and prefer an organic fair-trade brand the best but it’s the flavour that seals the deal. To my detriment I can only drink it with real cream and maple sugar ( therefore one cup is sufficient. Right now my favourite is “Joshue Treethe first roast and their espresso – I buy the beans and sometimes mix them together as one is medium roast and the other is dark. They’re full bodied but not bitter.  Second choice is “Peet’s” Major Dickason’s Coffee Blend – a rich, robust dark roast with full body.  Unfortunately we cannot buy these in Canada. I brought several bags back but now they’re finished.

Canadian brand “Kicking HorseKick Ass is also high on the list.  My latest purchase is Ethical Bean which is organic and fair trade – bought at Costco. 

When back in Palm Springs I’ll be sure to buy Joshua Tree at the farmers market or when visiting Joshua Tree.  In my opinion it’s still the best.

So what will it or tea?

Random Risotto Recipe

Green Veggie Risotto

When was the last time you had risotto?

Photo: d. king

This recipe is random mostly because I wanted to use up what was on hand (as I so often do) blame it on the wine but also because I hadn’t made risotto in a long time.

In the past I made it using wild mushrooms and low-sodium chicken stock but this version is equally as yummy.  Once plated I drizzle a bit of white truffle oil over top to further elevate the taste.  For those who don’t like the taste of truffle you can drizzle a bit of plain or lemon flavoured olive oil instead.  Sidenote: I usually don’t go for flavoured oils, however I found a great tasting stone-crushed olive & lemon oil product from Italy.  The company is “Belazu” –it’s amazing.

Photo: d. king Prepping for the Pot

For the wine I used a nice NZ sauvignon blanc but here’s the story: when having company over on Canada Day and knowing how quickly they go through wine I put a couple bottles of white wine in the freezer to get them cold quickly.  Two days later I went to get something out of the freezer and Voilà..there was a forgotten extra bottle – frozen solid. Ahhh what a waste or so I thought.  After researching what to do and finding many different suggestions I decided to leave it outside in a plastic bag just in case it exploded. So the next day it didn’t explode but there was only half a bottle left. Even unopened, it managed to seep through the twist top.  Apparently you can drink wine that’s been frozen and thawed within a day or two.  While it didn’t taste completely off, it didn’t taste quite so good either, therefore… not wanting to waste a good bottle of wine the risotto idea came about.

When making risotto you want to keep your eyes on the pan for the whole time – so whatever else you decide to serve alongside it should be easier to cook.  I made baked salmon which was easier than having to watch the BBQ.


6 cups *vegetable broth

2 teaspoons olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 ½ cups Arborio rice (do not wash before; starch is needed here)

½ cup of dry white wine

¾ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Baby spinach leaves (approx. 3 cups; torn)

½ pound asparagus; cut into ¾-inch pieces

1 cup frozen peas

¼ freshly grated parmesan

*I use organic “better than bouillon” seasoned vegetable base (dissolve 6 tsps. of base to 6 cups of boiling water).  

  1. Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and cook the garlic + onion, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of the hot broth, the salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper and simmer, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot broth, about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the broth to be absorbed before adding more, until rice is almost tender and creamy-looking, about 18 minutes. Careful not to let it dry out.
  • Add the spinach and asparagus and cook until the spinach is wilted. Add the frozen peas and cook just until the vegetables are hot. Stir in the Parmesan and more broth if the risotto seems too thick.

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, some lemon + cracked pepper. 

Try drizzling a little white truffle oil over top.  Enjoy!

Dinner is Served
Makes good next day leftovers.

Lemon Pepper Parsley Pasta

It only takes a few ingredients to make a fabulous meal – just ask the Italians.

Photo: d. king

The thing that makes something go from fine to fabulous is the freshness of the few ingredients.  This is where less is more.

I mean look at minimalist cacio e pepe (love it) – it’s literally “cheese and pepper. ”   Bon Appétit refers to it as a stripped-down mac and cheese.  

In Italy a friend served homemade gnocchi with sage from her garden pan fried in butter to make it browned & crispy. It was excellent on its own served with parmesan.

Parsley is something I don’t use enough of and it’s so good for you.  Except for making your breath fresher, on its own it’s kind of bland but when you marry it up with garlic, fresh lemon and reggiano parmesan it shines. I just used some in a ranch dressing and there was so much left over that I wanted to use it up.  I don’t like throwing food away.

Often labeled as one of the most powerful disease-fighting plants, parsley provides great nutritional value and offers many potential health benefits.  Over the years, parsley has been used to treat conditions like high blood pressure, allergies, and inflammatory diseases.

The herb is rich in many vitamins, particularly vitamin K, which is needed for blood clotting and bone health. Parsley is also a great source of vitamins A and C — important nutrients with antioxidant properties.

For this dish you need only spaghetti, fresh lemon (sprinkle some zest over top at the end), a few garlic cloves minced, chopped fresh parsley, olive oil, a little butter, parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper and course salt. 

Cook the spaghetti to package directions (al dente is best).  When it’s draining you can use the same pot to mix the rest and then put the spaghetti back into the pot. Serve right away.  This can be a great side dish for chicken but works well on its own too.

I’m trying to eat more gluten-free as often as possible because it’s less bloating and you don’t feel overly stuffed. I’ve tried almost all the gluten free pasta varieties there are.  Some are mushy, some fall apart and some taste just plain awful.  Over time I’ve managed to find a few labels that taste good and cook like normal pasta. In the process I’ve wasted some good sauce on crappy tasting pasta.

I’ve tested chickpea, quinoa and lentil but the ones that come closest to old fashioned style is made with brown rice and corn.  Even Barilla has gluten-free now.

End result. I usually say it tastes as good as it looks. In this case it tastes better than it appears.



Taking it easy: back at the ranch

Summer is the time for Simplicity and Salad Dressings from Scratch

Photo: (check out some of her recipes)

Notice less recipes on my blog lately?  It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, it’s just that I’ve been making things more on the fly and testing out simple but satisfying side dishes that can double as a whole meal.  Making more of an effort to eat less meat too while maintaining a balance of carbs and protein.  An overall healthier way to eat. Sometimes I feel it doesn’t make for an interesting food post.

However eating healthily doesn’t have to mean boring. I’ve been making a variety of very yummy veggie/rice or veggie/pasta bowls with spicy peanut sauce, teriyaki with ginger and garlic and pad thai.  I don’t always follow a specific recipe and when I do, I usually end up tweaking it.

Lots of salads too. 

I prefer making homemade dressing.  It’s easy and tastes better than bought.  If you read the ingredients on most bottles you’ll see what I mean.  Many use Canola Oil (over 90% of the canola crops grown in the United States are GMO). Many have very little nutrition with added sodium, sugar and fat. I go between simple vinaigrettes (a favourite is a mix of champagne vinegar, walnut oil, shallot and lemon juice) and Asian dressings.  Also  Martha Stewart’s red wine vinegraitte and olive oil with dijon mustard and garlic.  

I love using fresh herbs.  I think that’s the main reason I tried for the first time a homemade ranch dressing. I had nice fresh chives, dill (from someone’s garden) and Italian parsley.  Funnily enough, ranch is not one of my favourites but this one is delicious and share worthy. This fancier style ranch recipe got my attention.  It comes courtesy of Caroline Somers who I follow on Instagram.  Her website is called and there’s a variety of good looking recipes over there.

When I first made it I put it out as a dipping sauce for veggies.  Although it was very tasty, it was not thick enough for a dip.  For a salad it was perfect.

DIY Fancy Ranch Dressing with Buttermilk and Parmesan

Photo: taken from empty nesters website


2 cups buttermilk
½ cup *mayo                                                                                                       ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 clove minced garlic
½ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon **dried mustard

Shake it up in a bottle. 

Only a couple tweaks here:

 * (I substituted regular mayo for vegenaise made with grapeseed oil)

**(I substituted dried for deli-style spicy brown mustard)

If you end up making it let me know what you think.

Sidenote for those with canines: because I have a dog and am familiar with a few herbs that can be given in small doses (like rosemary) to their food, I wanted to find out if any of the ones in this recipe were okay to include.

Chives I suspected were not good but now I know they can be poisonous if the dose is right but we don’t want to test it out…so NO chives.

Fresh Dill can be added to your dogs food but don’t overload.

When it comes to parsley for dogs, you should only feed the curly variety.  Parsley  contains a toxic compound called furanocoumarin which can be dangerous in excessive amounts. In smaller servings, however, parsley does your dog more good than harm.

Always check beforehand.

c’est si bon terra

I’m here to spread the good news that Bonterra Wines which are all completely organic, carbon neutral & bio-dynamic from California, are now available right here in Vancouver, B.C.

Photo: d. king (taken in my downstairs couryard)

Meaning “good earththis winery lives up to its name! At the recent California wine tasting held at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Vancouver, Bonterra had a booth which gave me an opportunity to sample more than just the few reds that I’d bought in the past when in California.  The wines of course are readily available in California but now we can buy several of the ones they produce in specialty stores like Marquis, Everything Wine and Liberty here in Vancouver as well as some of the government liquor stores. I believe the chardonnay is only available at LCB but if interested please check beforehand to make sure they have stock.

A sales rep for the company was nice enough to send over two whites (a sauvignon blanc priced at $26.98 + tax,  a chardonnay priced at $22.29 + tax and a rosé  priced at $27.98 + tax) to sample – both dynamic in more ways than one. I was waiting for an opportunity on a sunny day to crack open these bottles to share with a few discerning wine loving friends.  This happened just this past weekend…which brings me to this post and our combined review in the notes below.

Photo: Lisa King (taken on my upper deck) – Look at the beautiful colour in that bottle.

But first…let’s talk about the benefits of drinking organic vs regular non-organic wines.  One thing I can tell you for sure is that you’re not likely to get a next day hangover headache because there are “very little to no sulphites” and other crap in the wine.  Of course that’s related to not going too overboard with the drinking in the first place.  I’m talking 3 bottles shared with friends where next day we all woke up feeling normal – by that I mean rested and not the least bit foggy…just in case you think our normal is waking up with a hangover which sometimes is the case.

Organic Life Practices – (paragraph below taken from the website):

“We start by growing our fruit in certified-organic vineyards, so our grapes are verifiably grown without the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. A constellation of climate-smart farming practices further enhances our vineyards, bolsters soil health and vitality, and ultimately leads to pure and flavourful fruit. These practices include applying compost, planting cover crops, limiting tillage, and animal grazing for natural weed control and soil fertility enhancement. We conserve nearly 50% of our land in its natural state and cultivate spaces that enhance insect and wildlife throughout our vineyards.  This is the essential starting point for fruit with purity you can taste.”

Sustainable, bio-dynamic…all these words but what does it really mean?

Sustainable, from soil to sip.

Bonterra estate vineyards are all dual-certified organic and sustainable, with certifications coming from CCOF and California Certified Sustainable Winegrowers (CCSW), respectively. This dual certification is mirrored in the winery, which also carries CCSW certification. Both credentials involve third-party audits, with CCSW assessing over 100 winery practices relating to the natural environment, quality of grapes and wine, and social responsibility to employees and communities. This combination affirms their total commitment to doing what’s right in the vineyard, in the winery, among the communities, and for each of us to enjoy.

Looking for proof? Look to the label.

Their wines readily identify responsible practices with designations found on the packaging like “Made with Organic Grapes,” Organic CCOF Certified, and Demeter Certified Biodynamic®. These certifications mean that an outside governing board is certifying their practices and holding them accountable for purity and sustainable quality. So, when in search of something altogether better, be sure to seek out these indications on labels, to be sure you’re picking up a verifiably purer pour.

 Tasting Notes:

  • Sauvignon Blanc 13%, organic wine. Aromas of grapefruit and kiwi and lush flavours of honeydew.
  • Rosé 13%, organic wine. Dry and crisp acidity with notes of red berries.
  • Chardonnay 13.5%, organic wine. Predominantly made of Chardonnay, complete with a few bunches of Muscat de Roussanne and Viognier, which bring its uniqueness. It’s smooth and creamy with ripe tropical fruit, buttery mouthfull matched with vibrant acidity. Balanced and tasty with a lingering smoky and nutty finish.
    Photo: Lisa King

We were all in agreement that the cold Sauvignon was an elegant summer sipper while the Chardonnay was our favourite – to drink any time of the year.  I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the Rosé as much as I did (I always want to like them but it’s rare that I find a rosé I really enjoy).  We all genuinely loved this one as it had just the right balance of crisp to dryness but not overly dry.  

We all agreed that we’d purchase any of these wines.  As a matter of fact we’re making phone calls right now.

If you try any of these let me know what you think?

Did I mention they go great with food?

Vancouver International Wine Festival

Wine lovers unite.  The International Wine Festival is back!

Outside JOEY (Bentall One) at launch party.

Enjoy an amazing selection of world class wines from May 16-22, 2022 at the Vancouver Convention Centre and other venues around the city. See link below for tickets and more info.

Photo: John Moe

Feeling worldly? Not only will you be able to sample wines from all over the world, you can buy your favourite wines at the onsite BC Liquor Store and bottle check them throughout the tasting session.  Then pick them up when you’re ready to leave or have your purchases sent to your nearest store.  How very convenient of them.

Of course remember never to wine and drive. The festival is providing a free Compass ticket on the way out to take local transport or have someone pick you up.  Because let’s face it, even if you taste and spit you’re probably going to be sipping enough to affect you.  I’m a bit of a lightweight when it comes to drinking wine and tend to get lightheaded very easily.  But I enjoy a lovely glass of wine and a bottle (or two) with friends on occasion so at an event like this you can sample several varietals you might otherwise never get to try.

our greeter upon entry
She was pouring this really nice bubbly

The festival kicked off with a VanWineFest media launch party at JOEY on Burrard.  I met some very nice people.

With Christine Blanchette.

Christine is the Host + Producer of  “The Closing Act” (conducting in-depth interviews with musicians, songwriters, producers and CEOS in the industry) on Arts + Entertainment Channel and “Run with It” (a monthly show on running, fitness and nutrition interviewing experts and celebrities who work out or follow a healthy lifestyle) on Healthy Living Network.  We have a few things in common being that she’s half Irish, is from Quebec and she’s also a runner. But I’m not in the same running league because she runs Marathons including the elite Boston Marathon. I’ve run 3 half Marathons and said that’s enough. I admire anyone who runs full marathons as it’s hard on your body and well; a longer run than I have the stamina for.  But getting back to our mutual friend JOEY

Not only was there a selection of delicious participating festival wines, also yummy globally-inspired snacks from executive chef Matthew Stowe.  The sliders (both meat + vegetarian) were excellent, along with surprisingly delicious sushi (I say that because I never expected them to serve sushi) and the tastiest dips like hummus and even guacamole – something for everyone.JOEY restaurants are a premium casual family-owned chain created by Jeff Fuller and looking to expand throughout North America.  I cannot believe that this was my first time here even though they’ve been around for quite some time. I was impressed by the quality of food and the extensive cocktail list looks tempting – for another time.

2022 countdown presented by VIWF Executive Director Harry Hertscheg (L),  Bard on the Beach Artistic Director Christopher Gaze (R) and Group Sommelier Jason Yamasaki (middle).

It’s exciting that events like this are opening up again.  It’s also a bit overwhelming because there’s all of a sudden so much going on other than wine tasting…in dining, music, art shows, theatre…

After a long hiatus it’s enjoyable to be able to get out there even if we have to ease ourselves into the social scene. Although I must admit as much as I like going to these social events I’m also pretty comfortable being a homebody.  How about you?

taken at Vancouver Convention Centre – International Wine Festival


How to Buy Tickets

JOEY Espresso Martini – for another time





Wines of Portugal

Good Wine Makes a World of Difference

The next best thing to physically being in Portugal is discovering the wines of Portugal.  Lucky me; I was able to attend a grand tasting the other day at the Coast Plaza hotel in Vancouver.  Always a pleasure to discover unfamiliar and delicious tasting wines and meet nice new people.

I’ve tried wines from Portugal before but most of the ones at the “Wines of Portugal” tasting are not yet available for purchase in Canada (or elsewhere in North America for that matter).

I didn’t realize their scope of native grape varieties are so plentiful – 250 different kinds to be exact! 

The prized and distinct grapes are considered a national treasure and have been savoured by generations of Portuguese wine lovers.  Wine drinkers elsewhere in the world will discover fresh new flavours when they sample.

Here are some fun facts:

Portugal is home of the first Demarcated and Regulated wine region in the world – The Douro Valley, now a Unesco World Heritage site.

The Portuguese were the first to bring European wines to the Americas and to Asia.

Love these labels

Portugal has the highest density of native grape varieties in the world.

*Jancis Robinson, in a 13 year tasting, ranked Portuguese red wines the highest.

*(British wine critic, journalist and wine writer. Jancis currently writes a weekly column for the Financial Times, and writes for her website, updated daily. She also provides advice for the wine cellar of Queen Elizabeth II).

Portugal was elected for the 3rd consecutive year as “Best Destination in the World” by the World Travel Awards and in total won 39 awards.

The wine region of Lisbon was considered by Wine Enthusiast one of the “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations 2019.

Forbes magazine elected the best wines of 2019 and in its list there are 3 Portuguese wines in the first 12 places.

And of course there’s the PORT:

In Portugal you can even buy Port in convenient size cans.

It’s important to not drink too much on an empty stomach. 

Don’t ask me how I know this

 Luckily the room had plenty of tasty appies to choose from.

For wine enthusiasts this was an excellent event.


Photos: d. king