Oyster & Hairy moss on green

My Chinese New Year Table

Gung Hey Fat Choi

Words & pix: Stephanie Yuen

My Chinese New Year celebration usually starts with questions such as “What to eat to celebrate Chinese New Year? What are you cooking for the family’s New Year feast?”

Thanks to my media friends, my last few TV appearances, radio and newspaper interviews were all about Lunar New year folklores, customs and culinary traditions.  We all know the food we eat during this celebrative season all carries auspicious meaning. Must haves include deep-fried pastries, candies and desserts, pig trotters, pork tongues, whole steamed fish, whole chicken with head and tail, hairy moss, lotus roots…the list is long.

To welcome the arrival of the New Year, moms and grandmothers (Chinese men of the house don’t usually cook at home) will be grocery-shopping weeks ahead. Like Christmas cookies, we do have classic holiday snacks and pastries to make, on top of preparing for several big feasts.  In the old days, the New Year celebration could spread up to 15 days. Candies, pastries, seeds, nuts, fresh, sugared and dried fruits, a majority of which will be laid out beautiful round Chinese lacquer platters for the duration of the celebration for visiting friends and families to munch on. Deep-fried golden dumplings (Pieces of gold); Large size sesame balls (Lots of wholesome goodness and fortune rolling in); Sugared lotus seeds and roots (Wealth and harmony), Prawns (Happiness and laughter); candies in colourful wraps (lucky charms) and crunchy arrow-root chips (gold coins) frequent the platter. While deep-frying in oil symbolizes smoothness and thought to lubricate any frictions and mishaps, gold, silver and red colours indicate positive energy, wealth and good fortune.     Oyster & Hairy moss on green

Lunar New Year is the most important festival of the whole year; Chinese around the world celebrate it religiously. Family members, no matter where they are, are expected to return home for the reunion New Year’s Eve dinner when everyone sits around the large round table to eat, drink and be merry.

We eat pan-fried or steamed golden cakes the morning of the New Year day.  Savory ones are made with daikon and taro-root, sweet ones are made with brown sugar or coconut milk so the New Year will be filled with sweetness, opportunities and progress.

Yut-tung-heen ma-lai-goh

Here is the menu of my family New Year dinner.

  • A pot of soup made with dried oysters and hairy moss – Blooming business and great profit.
  • A plate of pan-fried prawns – A year filled with happiness and laughter.
  • A caserole of braised pig trotters and tongues on Asian green – Big profits and rewards.
  • Deep-fried Tofu pockets stuffed with seasoned ground pork and fish, pan-fried and braised – A platter of gold nuggets.
  • Mushroom trio on Gailan – A house full of silver and treasure.
  • A duo of fish, head and tail intact, one steamed, one pan-fried – A year of bounty.
  • Braised Taro Roots & Vegetable Stew – A pot of wholesome goodness.
  • Steamed lotus wrapped fried rice – Pots of gold and silver pieces
  • Golden Kabocha Sweet Soup – Soothes our hearts and souls and brings harmony and sweetness in the New Year.
  • A plate of sweets and fresh fruits – Happy together to celebrate a fruitful year

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Pan-fried prawns

Fried-rice wrapped in lotus leaf

Stephanie’s Chinese New Year recipes

  1. A Fish of Bounty

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 with steamed rice

Ingredients:

2 pc. T&T dried shitake mushrooms, rinsed and soaked in ½ cup hot water for 30 to 45 minutes in advance, or until mushrooms are softened completely

1 1½ to 2 lb live Tilapia, head & tail intact, scaled, gutted and cleaned.  Cut 2 X 1” slits on each side below the gill where the thickest of the fish is.

1 Tbsp. julienned ginger

¼ cup julienned green onion

¼ cup julienned cilantro

¼ cup cooking oil

1 Tbsp T&T dark soy sauce

1 Tbsp T&T light soy sauce

1 Tbsp water

½ tsp. sugar

 

Method:

  • Remove mushroom cap and julienne thinly, discard water.
  • Bring 3 cups of water in a large steamer (or wok) to a full boil. (Make sure the fish dish fits the steamer or wok. You can also use a microwave steamer to steam the fish and should take less time to cook)
  • Pat dry fish and place on dish. Spread ginger and mushroom evenly on fish. Place dish in steamer, cover and steam for 12 to 15 minutes. To test for doneness, poke the thick of the fish with a sharp knife. Fish is ready when knife comes out clean.
  • In a small saucepan, mix dark and light soy sauce, water and sugar on medium high, bring to a gently boil. Remove from heat.
  • Remove fish dish from steamer, add green onion and cilantro. .
  • In a small saucepan, bring oil to a boil. Sizzle onto green onion and cilantro. Pour sweet soy mixture on top.
  • B) Lettuce Wraps of Prosperity

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves 6 to 8 (as an appetizer)

 

Ingredients:

1 lettuce, rinse and drip dry, cut 1” off head and into 2-halves vertically for easy peeling

1 Tbsp cooking oil

6 pc. button or brown mushroom, small-diced

1 small can water-chestnut, drained and diced

A pinch of sea salt

2 cups barbecued duck or barbecued pork, diced

2 cups cooked shrimp, diced

½ cup crushed T&T unsalted cashew nuts (or peanuts)

½ cup Hoisin sauce

2 Tbsp T&T Teriyaki sauce

1 Tbsp water

1 tsp brown sugar

 

Methods:

  • Peel off leaves which should be palm-shaped and stack them on a plate. Reserve small leaves for other use.
  • Heat oil in pan on high. Add mushroom, stir well. Add water-chestnut. Stir and cook for 90 seconds, add salt, mix well and place in a bowl.
  • Return wok to stove, add duck, stir and reheat on medium high for 20 – 30 seconds, place in a bowl.
  • Reheat shrimp in wok for 20 – 30 seconds, place in a bowl.
  • Place crushed nuts in a bowl.
  • To make a wrap sauce, mix Hoisin, Teriyaki sauce, water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and empty into a sauce bowl.
  • Place lettuce and all the bowls of ready-to-eat ingredients on the table for individuals to fill their own lettuce wraps. Enjoy with wrap sauce.

 

 

  1. C) A pot of blooming gold (Stir-fried Cauliflower with curry) **Vegetarian dish

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 – 15 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1½ tbsp. butter

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups cauliflower, sliced

½ cup milk

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tsp curry paste

½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

 

  • Melt butter in a pan on medium high heat, add garlic. Stir and cook for 15 seconds.
  • Add cauliflower. Stir well.
  • In a bowl, mix milk, cornstarch and curry paste. Stir into the pan. Mix and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add cheese and cook until melted.

 

 

Foodie on Foot – Toronto: Ovest Cucina e Vineria

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CAFE PACIFICA CHINESE NEW YEAR BUFFET LUCKY DRAW:

Thank you for the huge response. The lucky winner Wing Ng has been notified. We’ll be doing another give-away soon – please tune in!

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Chinese blog posting: http://taiyangbao.ca/food/430615/

Ovest Cucina e Vineria : Pamper your loved one with divine Italian cooking this Valentine

ovest-152

Ovest Cucina e Vineria. 788 King Street West. Toronto. T: 416 214 6161   http://www.ovest-to.com/

Words: Anthio Yuen                  Photos: Jonathan Fan

Opened in November of 2014, Ovest Cucina e Vineria is one of Toronto’s newest Italian restaurants and wine bars in the city’s bustling King West area.  At just a few months old, Ovest has already been met with rave reviews. The anticipation plus perhaps the crisp temperature typical of a winter evening in Toronto or the early onset of hunger, I was eager to go inside and try it for myself.

Greeted at the door by Marco Celio, Ovest’s general manager, who comes from local restaurants Buca and Terroni, gave me a quick tour of Ovest.  The restaurant’s design was inspired by old cantinas in Italy which often served double duty as casual drinking establishments and wine cellars, fittingly so here, giving Ovest a decidedly rustic but modern tone, highlighted by dark stone and wood accents throughout restaurant.

ovest-148

Centering the 4,700 square foot space is a stunning bar and salumi station, adorned with antique wine barrels and presses. A beautiful walk-in glass vineria behind the bar holding the restaurant’s 120 varieties of Italian wine is close by.     ovest-141

Taking his cues from Sicilian cuisine with French and seafood inspirations, Chef Luca Stracquadanio (who comes to Ovest from the Terroni group of restaurants in both Toronto and Los Angeles) wants to create a contemporary menu featuring regional Canadian ingredients.

Ovest’s menu is simple but purposeful.  Each dish features a key ingredient, enhanced by only a select few complementing flavours. As noted by Chef Stracquadanio, “we use simple ingredients, maybe one or two things to allow the true flavour be expressed.”  One should not confuse simplicity of ingredients, however, with lack of complexity. The dishes at Ovest were unique and equally refined.ovest-126

A signature antipasto at Ovest is the Carpaccio De Pesce Spada, or smoked swordfish. Cured and smoked in-house, sliced thinly, and then garnished with fennel, orange and olive oil, the swordfish had a delicate and creamy texture with just a hint of smoke.      ovest-122 The Caprese Di Tonno was another featured antipasto, which is whipped “bufala” mozzarella topped with tuna tartar. While the two came together nicely, the simple puree of basil and olive oil underneath the cheese added a bright, earthy flavour.   ovest-125Carpaccio di Polipo, or Octopus Carpaccio followed offering surprisingly meaty and heavy texture. Thin slices of octopus were drizzled with lemon, olive oil and a salsa verde made with capers and anchovies; then topped with pomegranate.

Following the antipasto, Chef Stracquadanio brought over two main courses: Gnocchi Con Astice, which is black squid ink gnocchi with fresh lobster and Merluzzo, or black cod. The gnocchi came tossed with large chunks of lobster, tomatoes and a light bisque made of the lobster. The dish was intense and rich and definitely one to indulge for lobster lovers. The pan-seared cod, with crispy and smoky skin, was served on a bed of earthy-sweet lentils.

ovest-130

The dessert was another high note of the evening—a thin chocolate praline, topped with chocolate crème and pistachio, wrapped in a chocolate “nest”. The dish was visually stunning and texturally appealing. The chocolate crème was smooth and dense, almost mousse-like, while the praline and pistachio added bits of crunch. The nest itself was very unique, looking actually like a birds nest but made with very thin strings of chocolate. ovest-133

Overall, Ovest provides a relaxed but upscale dining experience, perfect for those looking to embrace a different approach to Italian cuisine. A great atmosphere for the upcoming Valentine’s, be it an intimate one for the two of you; or a happy get-together for friends and families.

 

 

 

Celebrate February with sweet harmony and Good Luck wishes

多姿多采多賀羊年    溫馨浪漫情人節

1/ Chinese New Year Buffet at Pan Pacific Hotel’s Café Pacifica

泛太平洋酒店農曆新年自助餐

Cafe Pacifica

When: Feb 22, 2014  (星期日年初四)

What: Chinese New Year Brunch Buffet & Live Entertainment

賀羊年豐厚自助餐、娛藝表演

Reservation and information訂位。查詢:604-895-2480

Adult成人: $52

Senior耆英:$48

Children age 6 to 12 歲兒童:$26 (5 & under: Free五歲或以下免費 )

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Beyondchopsticks.com Give-Away: 自助餐卷抽獎活動

Café Pacifica Chinese New Year Buffet for Two

Email your one sentence Chinese New Year wish to

請將你的羊年願望(限一句)電郵至beyondchopsticks@gmail.com  

Deadline截止: Feb 11 Noon (2月11日正午)

Winner will be contacted by email

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2/ Shangri-La Hotel celebrates Lunar New Year with traditional arts

香格里拉大酒店發發賀農曆新年  請來大師表演功夫茶及變面藝術

Chocolatas - elegance-slider-7pc-tinThe hotel welcomes Che Huadong, tea master and trained expert in the arts of Kung Fu Tea and Chinese Face Changing Opera. The start of the Lunar New Year provides an auspicious occasion to welcome Huadong to his new home at Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver, and to showcase these traditional performance arts that are rarely seen outside of China.

When: 19 February 11am 年初一上午十一時   舞獅、點睛、變面表演及功夫茶藝

Where: Xi Shi Lounge 西施廊

Kung Fu Tea MasterOpera Face Changing

Reservation: 604-661-3352 http://www.shangri-la.com

Guests can view Huadong’s performances every Saturday and Sunday in Xi Shi Lounge at the following times: 其他表演時間:逢星期六、日

下午一時: 1:00 p.m. Chinese Face Changing Opera 變面

下午三時: 3:00 p.m. Kung Fu Tea Show功夫茶藝

*Guests can also enjoy shorter tableside Kung Fu Tea performances during afternoon tea service, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

2/ ChocolaTas – Granville Island市場精致巧克力店

Pairing wine & chocolate, Vegan Chocolate and Gluten Free Chocolate

Chocolatas - elegance-slider-7pc-tinChocolatas - elegance-slider-7pc-tin

Chocolate is for everyday celebrations as well as special occasions for the ChocolaTas team. With a Valentine’s Day around the corner master chocolatier Wim Tas and his wife Veve have been busy developing unique beverage pairings to honour this grand fete. So this year make your Valentine’s Day gift to your sweetie even better with wine or whisky. Try the Violet & Raspberry milk chocolate with a full bodied chardonnay or the vegan Almond & Grape Jelly dark chocolate with a spicy Syrah.

ChocolaTas is proud of the diversity of flavours and styles their collection offers and have developed a line of Vegan chocolates using the highest quality of cocoa. These vegan chocolates are available as Valentine’s gifts; choose from vegan lips (vegan fig ganache made with coconut milk instead of cream), vegan heart beats (crunchy hazelnuts), vegan almond and grape jelly or vegan local hazelnut, packaged in a lace heart or a smart reusable tin box. And all of the ChoclaTas collection is gluten free.

分店:101-31060 Peardonville Rd. in Abbotsford or order on-line at www.chocolatas.com.

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This week’s restaurant recommendation:

Novo Pizzeria  — 2118 Burrard (夾西五街) 604-736-2220  www.novopizzeria.com

食評請上中文「以希飲食網」

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Fraser Valley – Sweet Valentine’s restaurants recommendations

**Restaurant62, Abbotsford (In the Gateway building)

2001 Mccallum road (604) 855-3545  http://www.restaurant62.ca

**Preston Restaurant, Chilliwack (Inside Best Western Hotel)

45920 1 Ave. (604) 701-3070  www.dinepreston.com

**Bacchus Bistro, Langley (at Domaine de Chaberton Winery)

1064 216 St (604) 530-9694  www.chabertonwinery.com

**Seasonal 56, Langley

26730 56 Ave. (604) 625-5601 http://www.seasonal56.ca

Restaurant Review – Merchant’s Oyster Bar

Merchant’s Oyster Bar (1590 Commercial)

Words & Pix: Stephanie

$15 half dozen oysters

This is the first time it happened: Coming home hungry from a $145 dinner! True, $30 was spent on liquor and dinner was shared by Henry & me.

While I appreciated the simplicity of the 2-page typed-up menu in a store-bought folder, I was puzzled by the style and plating of the food which seemed to be going a different direction. Drink list was decent, the organic “Scandal” lager was delightful, but the menu system was pretty confusing.  It offered 3 set-dinners:  $31 was a snack + 1st and 2nd course (Henry’s choice); $34 gave you the 1st & 2nd course + dessert and $39 was for all 4 courses; which was whatIchose. However, a few items demanded 1 or 2 or 3 dollars more. This “I deserve more” notion reminded me of some restaurants’ Dine Out menus stuck at a reluctant price bracket.

Beet cracker close-up

Dinner began at a good pace and the first three courses were impressive. $15 half-dozen raw oysters came with freshly-shaved horseradish and was divine, so we ordered another half-dozen.  The plate of 3 baked oysters belonged to Henry who had to pay $3 extra. His second course was a lovely Sun-choke creamy soup garnished with sun-choke chip and confit eggyolks. So far so good!

Crab & vermicelli

The first of my 4-course dinner started with a beautifully prepared beet cracker made in-house. But the joy of the cracker was interrupted by the arrival of the 2nd course – Dungeness crab and vermicelli salad ($3 extra). Said to season with coconut, the scarce crab meat, shy flavour and the stringy rice noodle did not do anything to my palate or my hunger.

Ling cod

Our two abstractly-plated;  empty looking mains arrived at the same time, short rib accompanied by few withered strands of baby carrots for Henry and Ling Cod with grilled diced potatoes for me. The 2” square rib and 1” X 2½” cod were dry, small, overcooked and bland. They consisted nothing really substantial to inform my tummy “you are fed”!  I was the luckier one – at least there was a bed of fresh pea shoots on my plate. Perhaps the chef decided to shrink the meat portion slightly for the sets, or we’re supposed to be filled up with beers and cocktails? Hm…were there breads or buns I could order?

Short rib

Dessert was quite creative and gratefully enjoyed because it helped fill up the space in my stomach a bit. The off-green 2 Kit-Kat size Mojito Pana Cotta on a rectangle plate was dressed interestingly, but the flavour was subtle yet refreshing.

Pana Cotta

When I pushed the empty dish away, I was thinking about where to go to ‘touch-up’ before heading home but decided against it when the bill came.

 

37th International Wine Festival vibrates with the Year of the Ram

Henry Yuen’s Wine Business – Beyondchopsticks.com on AM1470

vines

The 37th Vancouver International Wine Festival:

February 23 to March 01, 2015

Featured wine country: Australia

Themed wine varietal: Syrah

Main tasting room, selected events and seminars: Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre

Other festival events, wine-pairing dinners, winemakers’ dinners: Various restaurants and venues

George Wyndham Founders Reserve 2010 Shiraz - bottle image

If you think there’s still a whole month away from the 37th Vancouver International Wine Festival and there’ll be 8 days of programs to choose from, why hurry? Well, think again!

This annual wine festival is regarded by global wine lovers as one of the top food & wine events in the world, the pool of tickets will be snapped up much quicker than you could imagine; especially the main festival tastings where 750+ wines will be poured for our sipping pleasure; and hot-ticket items such as the Vintners Brunch, the black-tie Gala extravaganza and wine dinners by big-name wineries at fine restaurants.

After the successful Champagne theme and France focus last year, 2015 will showcase Syrah as the varietal and the focus wine country is Australia, with 170 wineries and 14 countries represented. This combo means at least one thing – there will be no shortage of big wines on site!

Australia - 2015 themed wine country

While formal events and more serious seminars are popular amongst the earnest and/or industrial friends, there are other fun and casual events for those who just want to have fun with wine. Wine Minglers will be where spontaneous conversations about the wine, the winemaking process, the wineries…etc. are to be had; the 25 under $25 listing 25 great choices of good wines available in BC for under $25, are the ones I recommend for novices and those who are not yet ready to spend a bunch on unfamiliar wines.

wine-pairing dinner

Plan ahead:

No matter if you are going to the main tasting only; or to as many dinners and seminars as you can, alone, or with one or more buddies; or perhaps need to buy tickets for gift-giving for these events are known to be greatly-appreciated gifts items, plan soon; purchase the tickets ASAP. The first thing  to do, go online and check out the programs, make notes and then order tickets.

Ready to swirl and sip

New this year:

1/ Wine from Croatia: Wines from this East European country will make their wine festival debut.

2/ Wine from New York States: Yes, those New Yorkers can and have developed their own wine regions. They are here to show us their pride and joy.  I look forward to comparing their wines with those of Niagara.

3/ Wines by the case: Wines poured during the Festival Tasting sessions by the wineries will be available to the public for purchase in case lot, marked by special tags right at the booth so the public can place their orders right there and then. These wines are imported under special permit for the duration of the festival and may not be available afterward. Once ordered, the wines will be delivered to local liquor store of your choice for pickup.

4/ Make that a wine-tasting weekend getaway: Check out participating downtown hotels that not only offer special Wine Festival room rates but will throw in a free ticket. Why worry about driving home, or going home when the comfort of a bed is only minutes away.

wine seminars

Reminder:

  • If you plan to sample at least half of the wines at the tasting room, one session will not cut it. Get a tasting room package so you can go in and out at a much more leisure pace instead of jamming in too much at once.
  • Map out a tasting route, work out a system: By country, by varietal, just the reds, or the whites, or any others? Stick to it!
  • For those who aim at sipping all expensive or rare-finds first, make an alphabetical list of the wineries offering them and follow the list.
  • Transportation plan: Do not ‘Drink & Drive’, please use public transits, taxi cabs, or get dropped off and picked up.

Food & Restaurant News

AM1470 Show Bytes Jan 13, 2015

Divine pasta dish with shaved truffles

Divine pasta dish with shaved truffles

13th Dine Out Vancouver, 2015

When: January 16 to February 1

What: Participating restaurants offering 3-course dinner at $18, $28 or $38,  BC VQA wine-pairing, numerous food & fun events…and much more!

Where: For complete restaurant listing and dine out menu, log onto: http://www.dineoutvancouver.com

Stephanie’s suggestion:

  1. Pick at least one from each price bracket.
  2. Be adventurous – try new restaurants and ethnic cuisines
  3. Book ASAP
  4. To better your chance of grabbing a table, avoid going as a large group.
  5. Do go through the restaurant list, there are gems of restaurants hidden away that you may not be aware of.
  6. Take a look at the menu choices as some are more enticing than the others.

Beautifully plated bento box of appetizer - the 1st course at Gyoza Bar

Going to Granville Island Public Market? Stop by Oyama Sausages to see what their ‘welcome to 2015’ line-up is for the month of January.

1689 Johnston Street #17, Vancouver. (Granville Island Public Market)

(604) 327-7407  www.oyamasausage.ca

Goodies from Oyama

Oyama’s Choucroute Festival : January 22nd – January 25th

Choucroute is a famous Alsatian dish preparing sauerkraut with sausages and other salted meats and charcuterie. Oyama does all the work for you, preparing the sauerkraut, all you need to do is choose from a wide selection of sausages, invite your friends and enjoy. And stop by Granville Island Brewery or your favourite artisan beer and pick up something thirst quenching.

21st annual Taste BC  

www.taste-bc.com

When: Thursday, January 22nd from 4:30-7:30pm

Where: Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel

What: The event features BC wine, beer, cider and spirits accompanied by local fare from restaurants and providers from across the lower mainland.

Why: A fundraiser for the Oak Tree Clinic at BC Children’s Hospital. The Foundation provides specialized HIV care for infected women, pregnant women, partners, children and youth, and support services for affected families.

Opening soon – Pepper Lunch 胡椒廚房   

www.pepperlunchcanada.com

When: February, 2015

What: DIY Teppan

Where: No. Road, near the Waves Coffee and London Drugs, Richmond.

Capacity: 1,600 square feet; 50 seats

Menu focus: Pepper Lunch classics with a focus on using as local as ingredients as possible and Certified Angus Beef for all beef dishes. Black pepper is freshly ground up daily.

Pepper lunch - premium steak

A glance at the menu: B.C. steelhead salmon, Beef and Pork Curry Rice, Sakura Pork Pepper Rice.

Before landing in BC, Pepper Lunch was only available in Asia and Australia.  There are currently more than 350 Pepper Lunch restaurants worldwide in Japan, China, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, and Australia.

Pepper Lunch brand specializes in creating sizzle plates that hit hungry mouths with big flavours, finest quality cuts of meat, and unique sauces. People can literally see exactly what they are eating and decide how they want it cooked. Diners cook their steak, meat of choice, and seafood to-order on a special, patented hot plate created by Pepper Lunch founder, Chef and Inventor Kunio Ichinose. The plate uses proprietary, electromagnetic cooking technology and is sizzling hot at the table, about 260 degrees Celsius.

New Year Resolution? Eat healthy, live happy with apple cider vinegar and olive oil

Why not start your day with a glass of warm water with 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning or olive oil?

IMG_8841

Health benefits of apple cider vinegar

  1. Settles diarrhea
  2. Cures hiccups
  3. Soothes a sore throat and clears a stuffy nose
  4. Lowers cholesterol
  5. Prevents indigestion
  6. Aids in weight loss
  7. The amino acids contained in apple cider vinegar helps boost energy
  8. Cuts down on nighttime leg cramps
  9. Kills odor-causing bacteria – use as mouth wash, or drink a teaspoon (diluted with water if you prefer)
  10. The vinegar helps remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums. Gargle with apple cider vinegar in the morning.

Healthy benefits of olive oil

  1. To prevent snoring – Swallow a spoon of olive oil before bed.
  2. To reduce stomach ulcers and pain – Mix one table spoon of olive oil with a 3/4 cup of citrus juice or vinegar and drink.
  3. Relieve Coughing – Swallow a spoon of olive oil mixed with a spoon of honey. Another option is to massage the upper back and chest with olive oil at body temperature.
  4. Treating swollen / red gums – Wash your mouth with a mix of olive oil and water.
  5. For digestive problems – Swallow a spoon of olive oil every morning on an empty stomach. Another option is to drink a glass of water with a spoon of olive oil and a spoon of lemon juice.
  6. Lowers blood pressure levels
  7. Helps control cholesterol
  8. Prevents heart attacks
  9. Prevents cancer
  10. Fights aging

 

Wines for Holiday Feasts

T.creek merlot. Veramonte Cab.s. reserva with braised b. shank

Words: Henry & Stephanie Yuen                                                Photos: D.D

Chinese blogs: http://taiyangbao.ca/food/427141/

Thanksgiving wasn’t that long ago but all of a sudden there’re only a few days left to Christmas. Though the air is crisp and the temperature cold, the atmosphere is warm and jolly wherever you go. There will be sumptuous dinners, parties and all kinds of special events to behold. For many wine lovers, the shopping list of wines for the holiday season is one that needs to be procured as soon as possible.

No matter the occasion and celebration, a bottle or two of wines to bring along as an invited guest is the welcomed consideration, however, with so many choices to select from – sparkling, whites, reds and dessert wines – it is not an easy task.                  R.S. Cab Sauv

Why not start with a bottle of bubbles or sparkling? Good French champagne, as we know, is not cheap. If you do desire, try the Lanson black Label Brut, the Louis Roederer Brut Premier and Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial. For those memorable occasions and celebrations, why not pick up a bottle of the Taittinger Comets De Champagne Blanc De Blanc 2004 or the ever popular Dom Perignon. That doesn’t mean other sparkling wines are out of the question.  Good selections of BC bubbles with easier to manage price-tags are waiting. Our picks are the beautiful coloured and classy Summerhill Vineyards Cipes Blanc De Noir 2008, the vivacious Blue Mountain Brut, delightful Sumac Ridge Stellars Jay Brut and the brilliant See Ya Later Ranch Brut. These are all top-notched bubbles that would not disappoint your wallets or the dinner guests.

ChampagneFor white wines, the choices are even more. Close to home, pick up the Haywire Pinot Gris, Quails Gate Chenin Blanc, Hester Creek Character White, the Oak Bay Schonburger, Joie Farm Gewurztraminer, the Tinhorn Creek 2 Bench White. From our oversea friends, try the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and the wallet friendly Cono Sur Viognier, also from Italy, the 2012 Puglia I.G.T. of Tomarescal had provided me and my dinner guests with sensational pairing too. These are great starter wines for warming up and to go with most appetizers.                  Hester Creek Character

As a fan of Chardonnay laced with appropriate oak treatment, buttery texture and smoothness mouth feel are the lures. Right here in BC, The Time Winery Chardonnay, Quails Gate Estate Selection Chardonnay and Burrowing Owl Chardonnay are palate pleasers. Those from Meyer Winery, Quails Gate Estate Winery would not disappoint either. Burrowling Owl Chardonnay

The list for red is even longer and where do you begin?  For fans of big, bold, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon the  choices are plenty. Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, the Fort Berens Cabernet Sauvignon, The Perseus Cabernet Sauvignon and Rodney Strong Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Sage Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Wakefield Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, just to name a few. See Ya Later Ranch Rover - Premier's Wine Award

For red blends, why not pick some big wines from Bordeaux according to your budget. Made with 75% Merlot and 25% Cab Sauvignon, Jean De Trimoulet Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is impressive. From our backyard there are the sumptuous Osoyoos Larose, the deep and elegant Mission Hill Oculus and from Hester Creek The Judge. A must buy if you can put your hands on it, the 2014 Okanagan Wine Awards Premium Cup winner – See Ya Later Ranch Shraz Viogner promises to send your palate to cloud 9.

Of course, there are lots of very well-crafted red varietal wines – Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc from around the world and locally. For example, one of our favourite Argentina reds is Don Miguel Gascon Malbec.

Don Miguel Gascon malbec

For dessert wines, the world renowned Ice Wine from the Okanagan is luxurious and can be a prelude to, the desert itself, or a sweet final note to dinner. Try the Inniskillin Okanagan Vidal Ice Wine; Jackson Triggs Grand Reserve Riesling Ice Wine and the NK’Mip Riesling are sure wins. BC also produces excellent not as sweet and syrupy late harvest, a good substitute for those who opt for a lighter dessert wine. Ready for some exotic divine? We highly recommend the one and only Walnut wine made at Vista Doro Winery here in Fraser Valley.

Cheers and a jolly happy holiday to everyone!!    Doro 2007

This Christmas…

AM1470 Sound Bytes: beyondchopsticks.com with Deborah Moore

1/鯖魚善賣Buckets/bags of Herring for Charity 4th Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer

Richmond and Victoria, B.C.

The 2014 Herring Sale will take place this Saturday, December 6 in Steveston, Richmond, from 8am to 4pm (at the south end of Trites Road: 12740 Trites Road) and at Finest at Sea Seafoods in Victoria, BC between 7am to 4pm (27 Erie Street).

Pacific Herring in Buckets

A key factor behind this success is the commercial fishing industry’s commitment to cover literally all costs related to the event, so absolutely every penny raised from the sale of herring is contributed directly to help kids with cancer. “The best thing about the herring sale is that 100% of the money goes to the kids,” says Brent Melan, the Burnaby fisherman who came up with the idea for the event and captains the seiner, MV Prosperity,  that catches the herring for the Herring Sale.  Brent adds, “I am only one of over 100 volunteers who so willingly donate not only resources but endless hours of time to plan and run this event most effectively and efficiently. Key people and companies donate everything for the event from the fishing vessel, unloading facility and fish bags, to their time devoted as boat crewmen, forklift drivers, traffic controllers and fish baggers. In fact, volunteers have bagged more than 10,000 twenty-pound   bags of herring since the event started.”

All you have to do to support this meaningful fund-raising event is to go out there this Saturday and purchase one or two buckets or bagful of herrings! http://www.fishermenhelpingkidswithcancer.com

1/Traditional Caviar Service at Cactus Club Café 珍品魚子醬 與加拿大鐵廚

http://www.cactusclubcafe.com

Cactus Club celebrates this festive season with Chef Rob Feenie’s newest and creative concepts, fit for both romantic moments and get-together sharing.

My favourites are:

a/ Ocean Wise British Columbian caviar – Divine Sturgeon and Acadian Sturgeon caviar with brioche toast and blinis, served in a beautiful half-moon shape glass sculpture. The theatrical presentation is only the beginning of an exotic culinary journey – savour each and every bite!

A crest of caviar

b/ Ocean Wise Albacore Tuna Sushi Tacos – The unique crunchy yet flaky taco shell carries an Asian touch, perfect for group munching.

c/ Beef Carpaccio – Olive oil lovers behold! Domenica Foire Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy that dresses those paper-thin slices of Canadian tenderloin is an award winning product chosen to compliment the sweet flavour and juicy sensation of the meat. For $40, you can purchase a bottle of this ‘World’s Best’ Olive oil, each signed by Chef Feenie. Proceeds will go to The Boys club Network to benefit youths in our communities.

beef carpaccio

Future attraction: An exclusive dinner to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Chef Rob Feenie winning the Iron Chef America title in the Battle Crab episode with his “Dungeness Crab Rolls”. YOU COULD WIN AN INVITATION!!

Iron Chef Dungeness Crab rolls

 

2/ “Forage” Holiday Cheer  $35四道菜節日大餐

Chris Whittaker of Forage is a well-respected and very talented chef. I was fortunate enough to be invited to his home and savoured a one of a kind multi-course “Moose” dinner. This definitely is one of the top ten meals on my 2014 best list.

Chef Whittaker making a moose pot-roast at home

This holiday, Chef Whittake is offering a four-course menu for $35 each for you and three of your families and/or friends to indulge into at his restaurant “Forage”, an award-winning restaurant on Robson. The added bonus is – everyone will take home a house made cranberry preserve.  Please note: minimum reservation is for four people and reservations are absolutely required.

訂位:604-661-1400   網頁www.foragevancouver.comhome-made Tortelloni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone’s welcomed – Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival, 2014

HK Wine & Dine Festival

Words: Henry Yuen      Pix: S. Yuen

When I was growing up in Hong Kong, there was this annual “Trade Fair” where all kinds of businesses lined up in one place to showcase their wares. Apparel manufacturers displaying the latest fashion trends; food companies promoting newest products; international brands demonstrating the next must-have appliances; there were household supplies, hard wares, gadgets, toys games and much more. Young ladies in beautiful tailored-made uniforms standing in front of the stalls, encouraging people to  try, test, taste and buy.  Adorned by flashy flirting signs, musical performances and non-stop actions, the fun-filled annual event was something both adults and kids looked forward to every year.

Spectacular opening night performance

Similar yet more vibrant atmosphere and high energy were felt as I walked around the   Wine and Dine Festival in Hong Kong on their opening night; a wine glass in hand, I was elated to be there! The original plan of holding this much-anticipated event in Central was altered due to the demonstration taking place in that area. Kudos to the super organizing power and determined efficiency of Hong Kong Tourism Board and the team of organizers who turned things around as if with a magic wand. Upon entering the site, I was awed by how elaborated the just-erected site in this replacement outdoor venue was! Glittering with lavishing stages, tasting rooms and different themed zones, hard to believe it was all set up in a matter of days. Held at the runway of the old Kai Tak Airport with record attendees, this food and wine event have been fully embraced by the locals and visitors alike, despite the last minute location change.

The Wine & Dine Festival attracted these groups of folks: Those who came to sip the wine, those who came to sample the food, and of course, those who enjoyed both the food and the wine; and those who simply there to cherish the gleeful festivity!

Hong Kong has been well-regarded as a food and wine paradise; the month-long Festival provided a very approachable platform even for first time comers. There is a Chinese saying that you work to keep your stomach full, clothing and lodging come secondary.  Indeed, food has always been an integral part of the Chinese social fabric.  No surprise that the last minute change in venue did not hinder the popularity of the Festival; in fact, the Kai Tak location helps raised the allure as those who are yet to step on it welcome the opportunity to come take at its Cruise Terminal look.

Hong Kong’s affluent wine culture is no doubt the backbone of the huge success of the Wine & Dine Festival. As the wine-drinking society matures in Hong Kong, wine with food, wine on its own, wine for gift-giving has become more or less a social trend, a lifestyle mean and a wind-down tool to ease the everyday hectic paces.

The fabulous setup and the long lineup at the food and wine booths avouched my thoughts and observations. A tasting zone dedicated to the ever popular Bordeaux is a true manifestation of the superiority of the Bordeaux wine reputation in the heart of the Hong Kong wine circles. Not just any French wines but only those from Bordeaux – the allure, charisma and status of a Bordeaux label lives forever in their heart! The very considerate Everyday Wine Zone is there to showcase arrays of wallet friendly wines, a perfect introduction to the new and novice drinkers indeed.  The Discovery Zone where wine merchants brought in rare, unknown and hard to find wines is, needless to say, draws in wine lovers of all levels. The Party Wine Zone focusing on sparkling wines, sweeter and dessert wines are enjoyed on their own or served in various cocktail concoctions. The Country Zone that features wines from popular wine producing regions of the world plus some emerging Eastern European countries such as Georgia and Romania is for exploration and great learning experience.  To top it off, the Riedel Grand Tasting Pavilion with a list of impressive high end wines is the see and to-be-seen arena where folks clamour for and where veteran wine lovers who are there to compare tasting notes and purchasing powers.

Everyday French wine

While there is no doubt people still gravitate towards Bordeaux wines, it is good to see that other wine regions are gaining recognition and consumers begin to realize their wines are well worth their attention and curiosity. The “Drink nothing but Bordeaux” mantra is fading and most people look for value rather than just reputation.

I had a frank discussion with a Mr. Choy  of MegaWill Wine, a wine merchant at the Festival who confessed the Bordeaux popularity and status is not a novelty among those knowledgeable wine folks anymore. When he imports Bordeaux wines, instead of exclusively high end labels, it will now be those Bordeaux labels that are more price-friendly to the drinking public. It is difficult to make a lot of money importing high-end wines since only a shrinking group of elites still clings to that mantra. Due to the geographic proximity to the Asian Pacific countries, Australian and New Zealand wines are equally popular. California wines are also welcome due to the palate acceptance of full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel etc.

Henry & Mr. A. Choy I was amazed by the large number of wine merchants prying their trades at the Festival. I guess the ever increasing drinking population and the relaxed tax rule on wines in Hong Kong readily support more entrants to the wine trade. A case in point was that at one of the Discovery Zone booths, there was this young gentleman Mr. Wing Yau urging us to try his wine. As it turned out, he was the winemaker of a plum wine made locally in Hong Kong. Under the umbrella of Hong Kong Royal Wine Ltd, only a few hundred cases were produced and he hadn’t had time to line up any distributorship or enlisted any restaurants to put his wine on their wine lists.  It was no doubt a relatively new venture for him. Ask where he got the idea and impetus, his answer was it was his love of wine which drove his interest and desire to make wine. “It would be fun to try and make my own wine!” He said so with a grin. Consistent with the self-assurance of most folks in Hong Kong, he welcomed the challenge and was not deterred by the steep learning curve facing him. That’s the spirit of the Hong Kong people that we adore and I wish him the best of luck in his new endeavour.

Henry & plum winemaker Wing Yau

While most tasting events in Vancouver charges a higher admission fee, the wine tasting portion at each booth was free. You can taste all the wines you like and would not get drunk by spiting. Spitting is in fact encouraged. Whereas the Hong Kong Food and Wine Festival charged a very low admission fee of about $3-$4 Canadian but each tasting cost a ticket. More expensive wines cost two or three tickets each. As a result, it was difficult to taste a multitude of wines unless you buy a lot of tickets. And you tend not to spit since there was no spit bucket provided. The expectation was that you would finish each glass since you’re paying for it. I guess it makes perfect sense since a low admission fee could lure even casual fans who are free to choose and decide how to spend their dollars by either drinking a little or a lot.

Yak milk wine

With over one hundred and fifty booths and more than ten wines at each booth, it was impossible for me to try too much wine without spitting. In the end, my exercise involved studying each label carefully before selecting and sipping which called for lingering a lot longer at some booths. That was something I didn’t mind at all since the food and ambiance was good and the conversations were enjoyable. Not having to worry drinking and driving, thanks to the free shuttle bus that took us back to the subway station conveniently, definitely elevated the pleasure.  My first Hong Kong Wine & Dine experience was a great one, no matter how I looked at it. I have no doubt the wine trend in Hong Kong will only get better overtime and the public will appreciate and embrace the wine arena more profoundly!

Fort Berens Estate Winery

Fort Berens wines

Words: Henry Yuen         Pix: S. Yuen

Chinese post: http://taiyangbao.ca/food/415536/

Back in 2012, I wrote a story regarding the wines of Fort Berens, a pioneer winery in Lillooet up Fraser Canyon region where experimental test planting dated back to 2005. We tasted Fort Berens’ first vintage of 2011 from their initial commercial planting in 2009. I remembered very well because for a brand new winery growing grapes in a relatively unknown region, their wines were surprisingly good even back then.

Fast forward to now and deservingly so, Fort Berens Meritage has been awarded this year’s Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence, on top of other awards, a solid proof of how exceptional their wines are. I gave them two thumps up in terms of quality and value. With 20 acres under their helm, Fort Berens Estate Winery best exemplified that BC still has pockets of untapped terroir suitable to growing premium grapes outside of the 5 established growing regions.                  The winery

This time, we were able to taste some of their award-winning wines while touring the brand new facility  – a modern, sleek and hi-tech looking winery.  As we travelled through the winding lanes of Fraser Canyon through Hope, lined with mystic mountains along the Fraser River, it was difficult to imagine these hill side patches of pastures would grow grapes. When we approached Lillooet where the mighty Fraser River met the Thompson River, the valley opened up on both sides and the clouds disappeared quickly leaving the sun to warm up the entire valley. We could see this sagebrush region with dry greyish vegetation on sandy soil welcomed the long and hot summer sun with Alpine breeze cooling the nights; it in fact was ideal for the vines to flourish!

The newly built winery and tasting room features modern amenities to handle the production logistics. Situated upon the knoll overlooking the beautiful 20 acres of vineyards below, the view is breathtaking. There is room to grow but the present focus is on producing quality and delicious wines – let the wines speak for themselves! Led by a dedicated team of progressive and youthful staff to manage the vineyard and winemaking, Fort Berens is in good hands to provide the consistency wine lovers come to expect of quality BC wines, at a friendly price range too!

Fort Berens wine barrelsTasting notes:

Cabernet Franc 2012: Packs a lot of blackcurrants with a bit of clove on the nose, the entry is smooth with black fruits and berries to brighten the palate. Nice treatment due to 12 months in both American and French oak and another 12 months of bottle aging to provide the roundness.

2011 Meritage: A nice blend of 47% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Cabernet Franc sourced from both the estate fruits and the Sundial vineyards in Oliver. Aged in both American and French oak barrels, this wine is smooth with aroma of dry cherries and currants. The mouth feel is juicy and a bit of herb and spices to provide the balance. No wonder it is an award winning wine.

2013 Chardonnay: With lots of citrus and Asian fruits aroma, there is an enticing subtle flinty note indicative of the mineral rich sandy soil of the Lillooet area. 30% is fermented on French oak barrels and the rest in stainless steel tanks, this wine is further aged 9 months in French oak before bottling to provide that hint of buttery smoothness expected of oaked Chardonnay.

ChardonnayFour Seasons hosting Fort Berens Dinner