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

Feel-good Friday: Fusion

Photos from an afternoon gathering last Friday at Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna amongst interesting people and the most delicious Asian Fusion food...with a twist.

A sampling of creative Chinese, Korean and Japanese delicacies put together by chef Yan Cowan of Lucky Dragon Catering, who is considering to franchise. And lucky us; we were invited which was an unexpected but welcome surprise considering I had booked a reservation at the bistro for myself, my boyfriend and my next door neighbour who happened to be in Kelowna at the same time.

It was a feast for hungry eyes!

gyoza

Yan  (the caterer who prepared all this food) Chris (her commercial realtor friend) and Stephen (proprietor of Summerhill Pyramid Winery – the best all organic winery ever).

rice with eggplant
sesame chicken wings
Sushi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the Summerhill Bistro is always excellent, it’s not every day that you get to be part of a most yummy experiment. 

The foodie in me will always appreciate times like this. Friends old and new make it all that much more worthwhile.

Look forward to our next meal visit.

spicy green beans

vegetable tempura – exquisite


Sample Menu below.  

 

She’s amazing!

:

Food Revisited

Everyone Likes Good Food and everyone likes convenience right?

Sun-Dried Tomato & Ricotta Grilled Flatbreads with Fresh Herbs & Balsamic-Dressed Salad –  Good Food Meal Delivery Kit.

No one will disagree that the year 2020 altered us in ways we never saw coming.  Food wise, the flexibility of being able to go to any restaurant was definitely challenged.  It even changed the way we shop for food. We had to do more planning.  Even now people still have to quarantine for two weeks when returning home from another country.  At least here in Vancouver. Which means either having to order groceries or have a friend or family member drop groceries off for you.  Sometimes it’s much simpler to order directly from a store, especially if said friend forgets that one important ingredient that will complete your menu. But we won’t name that friend.  The inconvenient truth.

Which brings me to the booming business of the Meal Delivery Service.  While many have been around for some time now, more and more new ones have been popping up and have become very popular in the past 15 months.  They’re a good solution for busy people or if you want to try something different. Some companies deliver fully cooked meals and other ones deliver only the ingredients.  

A friend recently shared with me a Canadian online grocery subscription service called GOOD FOOD – inspired by the freshest ingredients, their chefs create eighteen unique recipes each and every week. They deliver meal kits, read-to-cook meals, and grocery products to your door each week.  The ingredients for whichever recipe you choose are in the exact amount for dinner for two people.  It might be fun to try something new.  The photos look inspiring for sure.  They target anyone from the novice cook to the seasoned chef.  Makes it easy to follow.  It can help to save time in the kitchen, and reduce unnecessary food waste. They let you know what they’ll be sending, what you need to cook it (like what size pan, if it requires parchment paper, etc.) and info like how many calories, total carbs, sodium, saturated fat, sugars and protein in each recipe.  That’s pretty great.

Vietnamese-Style Pork Chop Bún Bowls with Rice Vermicelli, Asian Greens & Toasted Peanuts

You can pick and choose from an extensive list of awesome looking recipes.  

They say that by cutting out the middlemen, they’re able to offer fresher, higher quality food than traditional retailers at up to 15% lower than super market prices.  I realize this is beginning to sound somewhat like an infomercial…however the prices seem reasonable so might as well share the info.

It sounds great and I might try it although these days I don’t like to plan too much ahead of schedule.  I’m one of those who, except for certain kitchen staples, I shop for what I need when I need it, which many times means on a daily basis, or every other day.

However if you’re very busy or live in an area not so close to shopping it might be an excellent choice.

I’m curious to know how many of you have tried something like this before… and if so, how did it work out?  

You can check them out here:

https://www.makegoodfood.ca/

Café Portrait

Here is where the specific categories I’ve created for this website keep getting blurred.

Where do you put coffee and eye candy?

Photo: d. king

Unique, unexpected, creative, inspiring…Art with a side of Coffee.

An establishment like Café Portrait in Vancouver’s West End is so much more than just a place to grab a coffee or croissant. Sidenote: the pistachio croissant is the best I’ve tried.  It’s also a breakfast/brunch spot and an art gallery unlike any other.  The entire café is filled with original portraits on the walls, tables…even in a corner with hoodies and coffee cups available for purchase.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Told you so!

https://www.cafeportrait.com/

1120 Denman Street (close to Davie)

 

 

 

Wining & Dining at Chaberton

We’re pretty spoiled living here in British Columbia.  We’re blessed with a.bun.dance…a very large quantity of something. We live sandwiched between ocean and mountains with no shortage of sports. It doesn’t get much better.

Photo: Paul Lemay

But speaking of sandwiches…Vancouver is a foodie city.  Condé Nast Traveler named it one of the best food cities in the world. And for a lot more than just a sandwich.  More on this some other time.

We’re also known for wine. Of course it’s better to be here to enjoy the full experience as many wineries (and there are a plenty) do not ship outside B.C.  And the few that do, do not ship all their supply as for the most part they’re smaller batch lots. Which in turn makes the tasting experience that much more personal.

For those of you familiar with wines of British Columbia you probably know about the Okanagan wine region – located in southern British Columbia, and one of the warmest regions in all of Canada.

Having said this, we have several local wineries closer to our home in Vancouver.  And bit by bit we’re exploring all of them.  For this post I’ll focus on Chaberton Estate Winery in Langley, B.C. – about 45 minutes outside Vancouver.

Catherine, our knowledgeable wine server
Tribute Fortified Wine

Langley is a part of the Fraser Valley wine region, which produces high-quality and hand-crafted wines with different styles and varieties. The fertile farmland around the city, especially in the Fraser Valley, is home to many historic orchards and fruit fields that grow berries.

The terroir in South Langley is similar to that of some of the best wineries in Northern France, making it the ideal place to grow a range of different cool weather grapes.  The history of the winery dates back to 1975 when the founders, Claude and Inge Violet sold their winery and vineyard in France and decided to start their next chapter in the “New World”.  So I suppose this means we are considered “New World Wine” with still a way to go.  But if you weren’t already aware of this, you might not even be able to tell. 

If wining were a sport we would win the gold medal.  Actually, we kind of treat it like a sport.

I enjoyed a deluxe private tasting last week before a delicious lunch at their award winning French inspired bistro.  Rated by the Vancouver Sun as one of the top 3 al Fresco dining restaurants in Vancouver, the Bacchus Bistro with a vineyard view, serves authentic French cuisine prepared with local ingredients and a West Coast flair. Coupled with a glass of wine, it was superb.  

Bacchus Bistro mussels were the best in the west.  The other stuff was pretty good too (Ling cod in a saffron sauce, seafood crepes, scalloped potatoes au gratin).

My favourite white is their estate grown Siegerrebe (a grape grown primarily in Germany) – hand picked right from the Langley Estate.  The flavour is bursting with honeydew melon and mango notes, with fresh grapefruit and velvet feel on the palate.  We bought a few bottles from the wine shop on our way out.

On a nice day you can enjoy a tasting flight at an outdoor picnic table.

I tend to say upon leaving a place I want to re-visit…We’ll be back.”

Chaberton Estate Winery

 

The steaks are high

Although I hardly eat meat anymore I’ve always loved a good grilled rib-eye steak.  It’s my favourite cut.  I recently came across this online article from “The Times of Israel” and found it intriguing.  Thought it worth a share.

Have you heard about this?

An Israeli company announced earlier this month that it has made the world’s first laboratory cultivated rib-eye steak complete with all the flavor and texture of regular meat, minus the harm to animals.

A rib-eye steak produced from meat cells cultivated in a laboratory by Israeli start-up Aleph Farms. (Courtesy: Aleph Farms/Technion Institute of Technology)

Aleph Farms claims its printed meat has all the flavor and texture a butcher can offer but *without harming animals, opening the way for sustainable food production.

*Key Words. I really hope this new method becomes the norm.

See link below for full story by Stuart Winer – The Times of Israel (February 10th, 2021)

https://www.timesofisrael.com/higher-steaks-as-israeli-company-makes-first-lab-cultivated-rib-eye-cut/

Dine-Out

Foodies Unite!

DINE OUT VANCOUVER FESTIVAL

I’m looking forward to this…

Dine Out Vancouver Festival is about community, collaboration, and sharing Vancouver’s culinary story.

Along with the Wines of British Columbia, and a host of other Community Partners, Tourism Vancouver is proud to continue to showcase Vancouver’s culinary talent as well as the many different culinary and cultural experiences that only a city like ours can offer.

It all started with an idea. A group of food and wine enthusiasts got together with the team at Tourism Vancouver back in 2002 and pitched the idea of a fixed-price menu deal to get Vancouverites out and into restaurants during a normally slow time of the year. Fifty-seven restaurants jumped on board and from that stellar yet humble beginning, Dine Out Vancouver Festival has grown into Canada’s largest food and drink festival.

Today, the festival is a promotional umbrella that brings together hundreds of chefs, more than 300 restaurants, wineries, craft breweries, suppliers and more for a month of dining, food-forward virtual events and experiences designed to give culinary enthusiasts the opportunity to taste the best flavours of the city. Dine Out Vancouver Festival also includes special hotel offers to help make an overnight Dine Out experience both safe and relaxing.

For 2021, we wish our out-of-Province and International friends could join us, but unfortunately for now, non-essential travel into Canada is not permitted and not recommended into and within British Columbia. BC Residents, let’s do our part by continuing to follow current public health orders.  Stay local and support local, with your immediate household or bubble in accordance with the latest guidelines.

Runs February 5 – March 7, 2021.

Ask For Luigi

Source: “about”

Check out the participating restaurants and hotels:

https://www.dineoutvancouver.com/restaurants/

Veggie Good Pad Thai

This is one of my favorite Vegetarian dishes.  It hits all the taste sensations; sweet, savory, sour and nutty.

One of the things I love best when ordering Thai food is Pad Thai.  One of the things I like least when ordering Thai food is Pad Thai...when it is not up to par. I’ve been disappointed more than once. So I’ve been making my own.

Making Pad Thai is much easier than you think.  You can tweak ingredients to your own liking and add chicken and/or shrimp to make it non vegetarian or omit the egg to make it vegan.  Experimenting with flavors is best. For me personally, I love an excellent homemade vegetarian Pad Thai using rice noodles.  Depending on my mood I might switch up the veggies or make more or less of the sauce.  So this is kind of a non-recipe recipe.

Before we get started a few basics you should know:

TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST PAD THAI

  1. Prep your ingredients. Have all your ingredients prepped and ready before you begin. Cooking Pad Thai is a very fast process and by having your ingredients prepped and within hands reach, this will ensure that everything goes smoothly.
  2. Continuously stir. I use a huge frying pan (you can also use a wok). You will need to continuously stir veggies throughout the cooking process to ensure even distribution of heat and even cooking.
  3. Do not overcook the noodles. I always pre-cook noodles in a separate pot and add them last (they may appear a bit lumped together if you don’t use them right away, however they do separate once you add them to the pan). Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain. Cook veggies until the sauce dries. The noodles should still be firm and not mushy when you add them to the pan. Fully-cooked noodles will change color from transparent to white. If you are new to stir-frying noodles, I would recommend turning down the heat while cooking, as things move fast.
  4. Serve hot. Pad Thai is best served immediately. Once the noodles turn cold, they will start to lose their texture and flavor.
  5.  Toppings are Everything. Serve Pad Thai topped with fresh bean sprouts, green onion (cut on the bias), cilantro, shaved carrot, chopped peanuts and lime wedges.

Ingredients (for two):

1 package Flat Rice Noodles (you can find ones specifically for Pad Thai)

1 Red Bell Pepper cut into strips

1 Onion thinly sliced

2-3 Garlic cloves, chopped

1 inch chopped fresh Ginger

Extra Firm Tofu cut up into cubes

1 Large Egg, slightly beaten (optional and added to hot pan before noodles)

Handful of Snap Peas

1 Carrot (cut into small chunks)

The above is my go-to but you can also add sliced mushrooms and/or broccoli 

Right before serving add the following:

Handful of Peanuts finely chopped

Fresh Bean Sprouts

Chopped Cilantro

Chopped Green onion

Shredded Carrot

Lime wedges

Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain.

You can use a combination of some or all of the below ingredients for the sauce.  My suggestion is to try what I recommend at first and then adjust according to your taste.  Omit any that don’t sit well with you.  For instance, I don’t always use fish sauce.

These are general guidelines as I don’t have a set recipe.

2 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil, 2 Tbsp. Rice vinegar, 1-2 Tbsp. Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce, 1 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce, 2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce (optional), 2 Tbsp. store bought peanut sauce, 1 Tbsp. Lime Juice, 1 Tbsp. tamarind paste (not difficult to find in the Asian section of almost every grocery store).

TO MAKE *SAUCE:

Pour about 2 Tbsps of toasted sesame oil in a large frypan or wok.  When hot. add the garlic, ginger, onion + pepper.  Stir until fragrant.  Add any other veggies (snap peas, carrot, tofu, mushrooms, etc.) and then add your rice vinegar, soy, fish sauce, chili-garlic sauce, tamarind paste and lime juice.  With wooden spoon, stir veggies and coat with sauce.  When all veggies are just about done, add the slightly beaten egg, then the noodles to the pan or wok. 

TOSS together then:

Add peanut sauce to the pan; to taste.  Divide mixture among two plates and top with bean sprouts, green onion, cilantro, shredded carrot and chopped peanuts.  Serve with lime wedges.  If you like it spicier add a bit more chili sauce.

Let me know how you like it.

*you can buy store-bought pad thai sauce to try if you like, but some of the ingredients are things like ketchup, corn starch and sugar.  Some people making homemade sauce add ketchup and a bit of peanut butter to the sauce.  I omit ketchup all together (really not necessary) but I like adding some spicy peanut sauce. It’s all up to personal taste.

Cheese Biscuits with Lavender Pepper

Canadian Thanksgiving is this coming Monday, October 12th.  With whomever you decide to celebrate with, be it friends or family in your small group – here is an easy and delicious little recipe to add to your dinner.  Or; just have them for breakfast or afternoon tea.

photo: d. king
This plate belonged to my grandmother.

I used Wensleydale cheese only because I was looking for a good way to use up this cheese which is one of my least favourites, and I love cheese.  This type of cheese is not easy to spread on crackers as it crumbles and it has a slightly sweet taste. However it’s awesome in this recipe. You can also use aged cheddar or a combo of cheddar/parmesan.  I bet Gruyère would be good too.  This recipe was supposed to be scones but I think they turn out more like biscuits.  The lavender pepper is a nice added touch and something I’ll continue to use.

Cheese Biscuits with Lavender Pepper

Ingredients

  • 1¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • ¾ to 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup shredded *Wensleydale (the one without cranberries) or other cheese
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried, culinary lavender flowers (or use 1 teaspoon fresh lavender flowers)
  • 1 tsp. **Lavender Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a shallow mixing bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and lavender pepper.
  3. Add the cubed butter and cut into the flour using a pastry cutter or a fork until butter is about the size of small peas.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk, a quarter of a cup at a time, until it forms a wet dough. Stir in the cheese until completely combined.
  5. Scoop onto a baking sheet by large spoonfuls and bake 12 to 15 minutes until tops are golden brown.
photo: d. king. Adding red chili pepper spread is yummy.

*Fun Facts: According to the official website of the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, a.k.a. the company that produces Wensleydale Cheese, the first people to make this particular dairy delight were French Cistercian monks back in the 12th century. After arriving in Wensleydale and the nearby surrounds, they set about making their cheese, albeit with ewe’s milk rather than the cow’s milk typical today.  I say Ewwww!

Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame) is an advocate of a good hunk of Wensleydale, but did you know that the Aardman Animations shorts helped revive the company back in the 1990s? It’s true! The brand was floundering, but animator Nick Park’s (coincidental) decision to namedrop Wensleydale Cheese helped boost sales. You can now even get Wensleydale Cheese wrapped in Wallace and Gromit branded packaging.

Another fun fact: I never watched Wallace and Gromit – but I think this marketing ploy was genius.

**To make lavender pepper combine black peppercorns with lavender flowers (half and half) and grind together using a clean coffee grinder or herb grinder.

The lavender works surprisingly well with pepper, offering a flowery note that stands up to the peppery bite without the bitterness.  Also good to use on pork, chicken or beef.

Enjoy!

someone bought me this dish towel

Here is the original recipe:

Wensleydale Scones

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.