Feel-good Friday: the Comeback Kid

Proof of Life in Palm Springs with the Diva herself; acutely misplaced for so long…and the Marilyn sculpture above.  

Sunny Days are here again.  Photo: Paul LeMay

Some consider her a “Work of Art“; others “a Piece of Work.”  Maybe she’s a bit of both.

It’s so nice to be back.  I took a break from blogging in order to get organized before leaving Vancouver and setting up house here in Palm Springs.  First time in years having missed a season however I’m not the only snowbird who was unable to make it until now.  So….making up for lost time for what was completely out of our control takes being a little out of control patient.

El Jefe with a Chai Latte, Palm Springs.

There were a lot of firsts this time around.  First time flying with my dog instead of driving.  My boyfriend and I tried to make it as smooth a transition as possible for Layla who had never been on a plane before.  We couldn’t get a non-stop from Vancouver to Palm Springs for dates we wanted so we took Air Canada to Los Angeles and rented a car from there – a two hour drive with little traffic. Emphasis on “little.”  No one told us that Layla would be in another terminal on arrival and it would take us for what seemed like forever to find her.  When we finally located Layla she was all by herself in her crate alongside a homeless person who set up house inside the terminal.  Remember the movie “The Terminal” with Tom Hanks? – exactly! It’s sadly become a reality.

Anyway we got her and let’s just say her crate was a mess.  Guess she doesn’t like flying.

These photos are after grooming.  No; I don’t mean that she looked like this right after grooming.  I had her groomed…then she ran through sprinklers in a park (completely out of control) and before I knew what to do she rolled in the dirt – her attempt to dry off.  Didn’t work!

Look at that smug face!  Can’t get upset. 

Ordered a pet trailer to attach to my cruiser so she could ride behind me and now she’s as happy as ever and also oblivious to whatever distress she’s caused.

Another first was coming back to a broken kitchen window and realizing that someone had crawled through and took personal belongings – yes; it was a break in!  Not only that; it must have been a skinny woman on top of it.

I’ve known other people who’ve had their homes broken into before and it always sounds invasive and awful but before it happens to you, you really have no idea how horrible it feels.  The window is being repaired and I’m dealing with insurance.  Stupidly I left a few valuables here not knowing how long it would be before being able to come back.  Whoever broke in knew what they were looking for. That’s why I know it was a woman.

Giant art Installation by Salinas artist John Cerney.

Then I was sending a text when all of a sudden a little robot showed up out of nowhere on my screen going around and around with a message that kept saying “erasing“….so I shut off my phone.  But then when I turned it on again it was blank.  I had to borrow someone’s phone to call Samsung support to walk me through a total “reboot” which included changing passwords, etc….I ended up losing more than half my contact list and photos from the past six weeks.  Of course it could’ve been worse – it always can.

That took oh; about 3 hours in total.  I owe that guy a case of beer and dinner.

There was one really good first though…

Halloween here was a blast!  It’s obviously over now and I had absolutely no idea on what large a scale people (Hollywood industry and the gay crowd inparticular) would go to all lengths to dress up and I mean dress up!  There was excellent live music, tons of people in the streets with the most amazing costumes.  Okay; I’ll post one photo out of many, many just to give you an idea.

Pee-wee with wee-wee     You bad, bad boy!

Okay, okay; a few more but Halloween is over.  I’ll spare you all the Marilyn look-a-likes and the contest from which all the Marilyn’s got up on stage.  There were many.  All dressed alike and wearing wigs as in the photo of sculpture.

My friend Tammy with a faux police officer. Maybe he was real – so hard to tell!
Dame Edna
Nice looking couple

So I will leave you for now with a wink and a smile…until next time.  Promise it won’t be for too long.

 

 

 

 

Have a fantastic weekend!

Wine Wednesday: Spadefoot Toad Series

What is Spadefoot Toad you ask?  Aside from being a round amphibian creature with short legs and protruding eyes…it’s one of my favourite red wine!

If you’re a wine lover you must check out these three recently released spectacular, highly anticipated new labels from the coveted Spadefoot Series at Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

Keeping it in the family; Ezra Cipes (second generation) is extremely proud to present these wines, made in partnership with grape grower Ron Firman at his idyllic Spadefoot Toad Vineyard in Oliver, BC, along with the legendary Canadian artist and activist Robert Bateman, who has drafted an original illustration specially for the labels. Ten percent of the proceeds from each bottle sold supports the Bateman Foundation’s work to nurture the next generation of conservationists.

Robert Bateman “Ocean Rhapsody” Orca Painting

Spadefoot wines are made entirely from organic grapes grown lovingly at Ron Firman’s Spadefoot Toad Vineyard in Oliver, BC. Ron tends his small acreage as if it were a garden, carefully applying compost to each individual vine and creating habitat for the at-risk Great Basin Spadefoot Toads to breed for natural pest control.
 
Ron grows pristine grapes that give concentrated, age-worthy wines that truly reflect the care he takes in his vineyard. Each single-vineyard bottling is a special expression of the south facing slope on which his vines are cultivated.
 
If you are searching for the perfect wines to enjoy over cool autumn evenings or to stow away in your cellar for future sipping, look no further! These three distinct bottlings are exploding with flavour and intensity that will only deepen with time.

2016 Spadefoot Toad Syrah
Bold, dark and smooth with notes of blackberry, soft leather, ripe raspberry and black pepper. Forty-seven months of neutral oak aging brings a whisper of vanilla and spice. Firm, gripping tannins and bright acidity buttress the concentrated fruit flavours, providing excellent structure for long term cellaring.
 
2017 Spadefoot Toad Sangiovese
2017 was a true vin de garde vintage here in the Okanagan. This unique take on a classic Tuscan variety is seductive and velvety, with a juicy core of candied cherry and fresh blueberry notes and whispers of tomato leaf, vanilla cola and baking spices. Exceptional fruit concentration balanced with vibrant freshness!
 
2018 Spadefoot Toad Sangiovese
Succulent and finessed. A clean, classic vintage with a long and steady growing season resulted in this elegant, medium-bodied Sangiovese. Red and blue fruits dominate the nose, carry through the palate, and are deepened by heady notes of clove and potting soil. Intense and full of soul… perfect for the changing seasons.uan etched, branded wine decanter to show off these wines at their very best.

To date this has been one of my favourites

2014 Spadefoot Toad Syrah

Elegant small lot, single-vineyard expression.  Available here:

https://www.summerhill.bc.ca/product/2014-Spadefoot-Toad-Syrah?pageID=75B3C5AF-E336-E1D7-D4C6-86C645A2D12B&sortBy=DisplayOrder&maxRows=24&&productListName=Shop%20Wine&position=12

HAPPY 40th to VIFF!

How convenient and nice of  the Vancouver International Film Festival to let us stream most of the 2021 movies, documentaries, short films + animations from the comfort of home.  But what was really wonderful after such a long hiatus, was to be able to view these amazing films in person “in-cinema.”  Seems like a long time.

Highlights:

VIFF could not have been more excited to roll out the red carpet this year with Special Presentations that were a cause for celebration. The scope of work that was showcased was simply phenomenal, featuring auteurs like Terence Davies and Kenneth Branagh; stars such as Tilda Swinton and Benedict Cumberbatch; and a spectrum of stories ranging from intimate human dramas to towering historic narratives.

Belfast is a 2021 British-Irish black-and-white coming of age comedy-drama film written and directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Special Presentations included one world premiere, one Canadian premiere, and the latest addition to the VIFF lineup: The Power of the Dog by Jane Campion, which focuses on the charismatic rancher Phil Burbank who inspires fear and awe in those around him until his brother brings home a new wife and her son, tormenting them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love; starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Additional highlights included the world premiere of The Sanctity of Space by Renan Ozturk and Freddie Wilkinson, which follows the directors as they traverse Denali National Park and uncover the story of pioneering photographer and cartographer Bradford Washburn; the Canadian premiere of Red Rocket by Sean Baker (The Florida Project), a luminous, seriocomic fable about America’s underclass through the eyes of a washed-up porn star in Texas; and Memoria by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the director’s first film in English starring Tilda Swinton as an expat orchid grower in Colombia with a strange malady.

Power of the Dog – Jane Campion, Australia/New Zealand, 2021.  In her strongest movie since The Piano, Jane Campion turns the machismo of the Western film on its head. Benedict Cumberbatch is the tyrannical cattle rancher at war with his own brother (Jesse Plemons) in this stark, revelatory drama.

The only animation I screened was Lamya’s Poem, the animated feature whose voice cast includes Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Millie Davis (Wonder) and Faran Tahir (Iron Man). 

The film charts the story of a 12-year-old Syrian refugee who is given a book of poetry of classic 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi. As the perils of her journey mount, the book becomes a magical gateway.  It was amazingly well executed. 

I followed that with Disney blockbuster “Cruella” featuring the two “Emma’s” – Stone and Thompson – both outstanding if you haven’t already seen it.   Reminded me of “The Devil Wears Prada.” This was not part of the VIFF lineup; but it made me ponder the notion of having watched an excellent animation that was based on a real person with historical fact followed by a movie acted out by real people that was based on animated fiction.  

We hope you join us next year.  In the meantime you might be able to catch “best of the fest” at https://viff.org/Online/default.asp

Happy Viewing

Summerhill Estate House

There are plenty of good reasons to go wine tasting in the Okanagan in October.  For starters:

The wine is always good no matter what month you decide to visit, but come October and over the Fall/Winter in general it’s much easier to book accommodation as the wineries are less busy with everyone back to work and back to school.  So may I suggest a not so little gem of a place to stay…Summerhill Pyramid Winery Guest House (shown in photos on this page).  Not only is it amazingly spacious with a view to die for, but the winery + bistro is adjacent to the guest house.  A hop, skip and a roll home away.

That’s what I’m talking about!

For booking availability please contact:

estatehouse@summerhill.bc.ca

In the meantime…

Thanksgiving Wine-Care Pack

Five wines to pair with your feast plus an extra-special bottle for dessert!
Thanksgiving Wine-Care Pack

 

 

 

 

Wine Wednesday: Vin Van

WINE events | VANCOUVER BC

Inclusive and approachable evenings centered around a love of wine.

Introducing

Vin Van is a pop-up wine company run by two friends, neighbours and wine obsessives: Jo & Steph.
Hailing from different sides of the Atlantic, they were on the same page when it came to what was missing from the food and drink culture in Vancouver, and decided to try something of their own.

“We run a weekly wine bar on Wednesday’s at Dock Lunch, a wine focused supper club series in unexpected locations throughout the city, as well as bespoke private and corporate events.

These events are about sharing our combined mix of influences of good wine and food in unpretentious, approachable environments.

Inspired by the wine bars of Europe, our wine bar evenings aim to be casual, inclusive and never pretentious. We bring in new wines every week so there’ll always be something surprising to sip on!”

OU – EST

Feel-good Friday: Oh it’s October

Here’s hoping your month gets off to a good start.

On this first day of October I’m attending my very first Zoom wedding, and hopefully my last. Well I’m not really attending – rather watching from my computer.  Yup, you read that right!  And to be fair; it is a very tiny gathering. still no excuse!  One of my best friends is re-marrying her ex-husband. Throughout their divorce of many years and other relationships, they’ve remained each others’ best friend – which only proves that friendship and respect are key ingredients for a successful partnership. The good thing is I don’t have to dress up although I might put on some makeup. I think all eyes will be on the couple exchanging vows…but just in case.  Can you believe I actually said “the good thing is that I don’t have to dress up?” 

Today also marks the first day that VIFF (Vancouver International Film Festival) begins.
VIFF celebrates its 40th edition from October 1-11, 2021 with a kaleidoscopic collection of Canadian work, East Asian cinema, powerful documentaries, narrative cinema from some of the world’s leading lights, elevated genre fare, and much more.  Big screen or small, VIFF is excited to share the 2021 program with film fans in Vancouver and across the country. Explore the full program at viff.org and on VIFF Connect starting today.

Antonio Banderas + Penelope Cruz in “Official CompetitionHmmm this should be interesting.
Ties between Tiger and Trainer: An Iranian Zookeeper takes Maya, a Bengal tiger he raised from birth for her first trip out of the Mashhad zoo for a film shoot by the Caspian Sea – once home to the now extinct Caspian tiger.

https://viff.org/Online/default.asp

I also want to introduce my exclusive local gift packages. 

The Champagne Birdcage

Something new although I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time and always enjoyed putting gift baskets together for special occasions. Two options filled with small lot, carefully chosen wine/cheese/chocolate delights. A few of my favourite things packaged up to please for all kinds of celebrations.  Many of you don’t reside here in Vancouver, let alone Canada, but maybe you know someone who lives here and is looking to gift something unique.  Certain companies have gifted their clients and also special customers of some organizations have purchased these but hey; they also make a perfect wedding, anniversary or holiday present.  Have a peek and let me know what you think…

Available on my Shop page:

Have an excellent weekend!

“Real” Estate: doing the Can Can

Try to contain yourself as you have a browse through some luxury lifestyle homes for those who like to think “outside the box”  for price souring housing solutions.

Numerous shipping containers are artfully arranged in a starburst pattern for this Joshua Tree Home – the brainchild of London based Whitaker Studio.

These home are made from shipping containers. That’s right. Some ranging from small “tiny house” structures featuring a single container to larger, more ambitious projects that combine numerous containers that result in opulent luxury homes. These shipping container spaces offer something for every budget and lifestyle.

Affordable Housing – two shipping containers built on a low budget.
California-based Kubed Living offers multiple different shipping containers such as this 160 sq. ft. studio built from one container.

I just spent a little time in a winery built out of two shipping containers with windows cut out large enough to have a view of the vineyard.  I couldn’t believe it!

Canadians looking for a chic container home can contact Alberta based Honomobo . Built from rigid steel to provide durable, efficient living space.
Toronto based Storstac is in the business of selling new and used shipping containers. This one is made from two containers.
The main floor includes two shipping containers that saddle bag a wedge-shaped space .  I’m still trying to wrap my head around this one.

Every time I see a container now I envision what the inside would look like if I wanted to make it into a home.  The way things are going you just may see them becoming more mainstream.

Intriguing; No?

 

 

Wine Wednesday: Here’s the Thing

The SMALL LOT FIVE- little hidden gems; BIG on taste.

vinAmité Cellars: Hiding in plain sight

Photo: d. king

“vin-ah-mee-tay” – meaning: harmony, friendship, meeting of minds of family and friends.

The word “vin” in French means wine

The word “Amite” is an old fashioned word going back to Medieval times,

Meaning friendship and balance in life.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Here we sampled a few whites with names like “Chanson d’amour” which alone was enough to make us want to buy a bottle or two.  Followed by a  single red varietal Petit Verdot and a few blends with charming names like “Compass” and “Hidden Corner.”  

We were tipped off to make sure to order the charcuterie cone (yes; it’s a cone, not a board.) And it was Fab!

This hand-crafted family estate vineyard makes small quantity wines with character and taste that are true to each grape varietal and honor the history of the wine and the winemakers’ special touch. 

The vineyard is well over two decades old, yet each wine is carefully crafted to the tastes of modern life. The wines are enjoyable and easy drinking.  With $15 tasting fee you get a crystal Riedel wine glass – lightly inscribed with their name on the glass.  Very classy.

Photo: d. king

Fairview Cellars

Photo: d. king

We no sooner pulled up to this boutique style winery when we were eagerly greeted by a very friendly golden retriever.  A nice start to another favorful and flavourful tasting.

The 10 acre property located adjacent to the first green of the Fairview Mountain Golf Course was purchased by Bill Eggert in 1989.  After development of the water system the vineyard was started in 1993. 

I can’t remember what Margeaux bought but I ended up with a bottle called Bucket O’ Blood – a white wine it is not.  It wasn’t open for tasting however a table of six ordered a full bottle and raved about how good it was.  They said every time they go to the winery they order the same bottle. Sold!

Photo: d. king

http://www.fairviewcellars.ca/fairviewcellars.ca/Welcome.html

Second Chapter

We skipped straight to the Second Chapter.  This is certainly a unique winery that produces no more than 4,000 cases featuring truly local wines inside a funky building made out of two 40 x 8 sea cans.

Apparently it’s a trend. Guess you can refer to it as a cannery. I’ll blog more on the home can craze separately because I was fascinated by them and have been checking out some amazing examples – you wouldn’t even know what they were…if you didn’t already know what they are.  But getting back to wine…

Our firecracker pourer Dianne Gibson @diannegibsongirl entertained us with stories and she happens to also design amazing corsets and costumes.  She was a riot. The wine was good but it would have been a totally different experience had she not been there.  Let’s just say she made it better.  I would go back just to see her again.  Ok; let’s not forget who I am – to also drink wine.

River Stone

River Stone is a small, family owned and operated winery located on a small knoll in the middle of the valley, just south of the well-recognized McIntyre Bluff and just north of Oliver.

Photo: d. king

The day we arrived they were in the middle of a private tasting on their gorgeous outdoor garden setting.

https://www.riverstoneestatewinery.ca/

Here’s the Thing Winery:

I saved the best for last; literally.

One more thing: I clearly make no apologies for drinking gorgeous wine. Photo: d. king

See the idyllic farmhouse in the distance?  That’s the winery. It may be yellow in color (even though in this photo it looks to be white) but the entire site is truly ‘green’. You won’t see any wires running to their buildings because they’re 100% off the grid!

Photo: d. king

The place wasn’t even open when we arrived on the drive out.  They were in the midst of getting set up and their computer was down so we went for a walk for half an hour then came back to be first in line. Margeaux already left for her drive back to Castlegar so I did a mid morning round on my own. Don’t worry; my boyfriend was the designated driver.

Let me be clear that as a rule I never drink wine before noon.  Normally not even before 5:00 pm.  5:01 is when I start.  What a surprise.  Fabulous wines.  I bought one of each and called Margeaux to tell her she missed a good tasting. Margeaux; having FOMO (fear of missing out – I didn’t even know what the letters meant until just recently so don’t feel bad), ended up ordering a case with the four bottles I sampled.

We have our wine map for next time.  Only 40 more to go!  

Cheers everyone!

 Wine + Dine in Canada’s Wine Capital

My friend and I experienced two exceptional wine country dining experiences.  

Wine Tasting at Tinhorn Creek. Photo: d. king

Burrowing Owl Tasting. Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

The Sonora Room Restaurant at Burrowing Owl Winery is where Margeaux and I had dinner on the first of our two night stay in Oliver, B.C.  That was after wine sampling next door at the winery, and before finishing off our special bottle from the restaurant’s wine library.  The library holds exclusive wines with a list changed regularly that are no longer publicly available for sale.  And of course, they go along to compliment the menu.  They have a very talented culinary team.

We both had the chef’s specialty of the day –  Beef short rib – was phenomenal! Photo: d. king

From their website:

“The philosophy… is to embrace the
privilege and the opportunity to
showcase many of the local producers
with their array of local organic
produce, fresh, seasonal fruits and
artisan breads and cheeses.”

Instead of dessert we decided to go back to our luxury B+B “uncorked”  and polish off the leftover wine with a cheese assortment and “Hooray” decadent chocolate truffles  (the ones that are included in my gift packages – but more on this later).  Yes we indulged!

The views from Burrowing Owl – fyi you can book a room there too.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d king

The second night we chose Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Winery on the advice of the maître d’ from the Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl.  There are many fine places to dine in Oliver but these two restaurants were highly recommended and we also wanted to do wine tasting at their wineries before dinner so it was perfect.

Photo: d. king

At Miradoro the locally sourced market cuisine menu has a Mediterranean influence, drawing inspiration from countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal – countries that know a thing or two about food and wine pairing.

When it comes to modern, local and sustainable cuisine, Chef Jeff Van Geest (check him out; he’s amazing) is one of British Columbia’s most celebrated chefs.

Not only were the wines superb but the panoramic views from the valley below were to die for!  Both restaurants have amazing outdoor seating however it was a bit chilly both nights so we decided to dine inside.

The view from our outdoor wine tasting looking over to Burrowing Owl. Photo; d. king

Photo: d. king Again; we ordered the exact same thing.  This time delicious stuffed wild salmon.

Both restaurants including their adjoining wineries require reservations.  We were very lucky the first night especially because we got in due to a cancellation – the room was booked a few weeks in advance.  And this is in September!

https://www.tinhorn.com/Restaurant

The Sonora Room

Next I’ll blog about the small lot wineries.  So many wines; so little time!

Next time we’re going here on the advice of a winery owner and others:

Come eat, drink and relax at Popolo Cafe! We’re located inside a beautifully renovated church. Choose from a variety of unique sitting areas and enjoy fresh homemade pasta dishes and more with a glass of local wine, beer, or an espresso beverage.

Poplolo Café Pasta Gelato