New Liquor Laws – who is ready?

 

BC LiquorStoreWords: Henry Yuen

Chinese blog: http://taiyangbao.ca/food/430908/

In the business world, managing change is not just a topic or an issue, it is the essential skill and key responsibility required of the managing executives whose main job description includes: to foresee, prepare, plan and handle any changes. Equally important is their ability to minimize the risk associated and the pressure induced due to external and internal changes which are often intertwined.

The wine industry is no different, perhaps more so since it is a highly regulated industry with various levels of government eyeing closely and having a say anytime. Quite often, government’s decision making on various aspects of the business model and any operational shapes and forms, will affect within and beyond the industry. The industry is susceptible and must abide to liquor law changes which they have no control of. At the stroke of the pen or press of a button, the governing ministry would make or break the industry to a certain extend.

That’s exactly what happened recently in BC.  Changes to the liquor law are in the making and will be in effect come April, 2015. Any changes to the antiquated liquor law are supposedly welcoming. Superficially, the upcoming changes seemed to be all positive that received certain accolades; even from some industry players.  However, when changes are made without proper research and investigation; when decisions are pressed without thorough consideration and genuine concern, disapproval, disappointment and even outrage would follow, especially when deficiency in the implementation became inevitable and certain revisions are viewed to be favouring one party over another.

King Heffy draft beerAt the moment, independent wine stores are the ones with the least benefit from these changes. Obviously, the operators are crying foul from their perspective as the governmental changes would create an uneven playing field that challenges their survival as a business. Independent retails versus BC Liquor Stores? More-friendly competition? Giving the public more choices and more convenience?

The concept of allowing grocery stores to sell beer and wine is supposed to provide easier retail access to the public so they can purchase these beverages at their neighbourhood stores. However, the setup requirement and restrictions are so stringent that one wonders how many of these locations would actually come to fruition. So is it all noise and no real effect? Good idea requires good execution to make it successful. So when there are so many “no”, it diminishes the original concept and maybe making no changes might be better for all parties concerned.

BCWI events

The Vancouver International Wine Festival was just here and other wine events are lining up. Judging by the success of the Wine Festival and all the sold out events, the public love their wines. The craft brewery industry is growing and glowing. These should all be promising industries with bright future regardless whether one is involved as a winery operator, a licenced restaurant, a wine merchant, an independent beer & wine store or other capacities of producing and/or promoting beer and wine. It might be true that there is no perfect setup to satisfy each and all parties; however, there is the vital need to secure stability and consistency! It really is not too much to allow for businesses to be part of, to adapt and survive and to benefit from the changes.

 

 

Sipping Sake in Japan

Lantern signs

Words/Pix: Henry Yuen

Chinese blog: http://blog.taiyanbao.ca/life/430786

Milder and lower alcohol content; a less floral but earthier bouquet; trimmer acidity with subtle sweetness are perhaps the reasons why sake has been favoured by Japanese and Asians.  But most wine lovers would agree, sake does complement Japanese cuisine intricately, especially with sushi and sashimi. The refined flavour of sake along with the tantalizing mouth feel caress the raw seafood in our palates charmingly.  No wonder sake is gaining popularity rapidly on the global beverage platforms.

Like most imported goods, the varieties of sake available in Vancouver is limited and usually of average grade. One may have to go to rather high end Japanese restaurants to find true premium sake. Make no mistake; what is available here is only a tiny fraction of the sake produced in Japan. Needless to say, my recent trip to Japan was a seven day affair of non-stop eating and drinking; with sake taking the centre stage.

premiums sake everywhere

We landed in Tokyo at night and the first thing on the itinerary early next morning was to visit the world famous Tsukiji Fish Market.  After over 2 hours of wide-eyed amazement and sometimes disbelief of the magnitude of seafood being handled and traded daily, we sat down in one of the sushi restaurants and had the best raw seafood and beautifully plated sea urchin set for breakfast. Even though it was 9am in the morning, I reminded myself it’s night time in Vancouver; therefore sipping sake was in natural order. There was no wine list to speak of so you just pointed at the display bottles to make your selection and almost immediately sake was served, and to my delight, the authentic way  – in a small square wooden box.  The wooden box emitted a very faint smokiness but somehow added a mysterious character to the sake. While small sake cups, either ceramic or glass, were common, I had come across artistic sets and strange looking shapes and I must admit, they all pushed the experience up one notch. A good way to embrace the arts of sipping local sake for sure!

Sake & sushi

No matter what season it is, slightly chilled sake has always been the norm here; room temperature sake is not unusual either. However, if you prefer your sake warm, please let them know. Mind you, they do serve sake warm, but never hot! Warm sake is usually reserved for utility grade sake while premium grade is preferably served slightly chilled. Almost every restaurant, no matter how tiny, offers sake. And more often than not; serve beer, sake and wine or anything alcoholic in a very casual manner.  Even the young waitress can go to the back, pick up a bottle and pour it for you. Sake sommelier?  I was quite sure they were around, but I did not have the pleasure to meet one during my sake days in Japan.

Sake glasses

Since restaurants of all sorts were everywhere, so were sake: On shelves, by the door, in boxes, barrels;  lined-up in bottles against the wall or by the back exit… Palpably, sake selections were never short; a few of which I was pretty sure I encountered and tasted back home. The price points varied too, but as expected, they were much more wallet-friendly. Many restaurants offer individual (200ml) sizes which they left the bottle on the table. Some were poured directly from the magnum bottle which was lifted right in front of you for your sake by the glass orders. Sake-paired meals should be available somehow somewhere; unfortunately, no one at the front desk or dining room in any of the restaurants spoke good enough English to answer my inquiry.

A display of fine premium sake in Kyoto

Most restaurants serve their sake generously to showcase their hospitality. Not only was the cup or box always filled to the brim; there were the extra friendly and very appreciative way to over-pour so the sake cup or box was actually dripping.  With a dish smartly placed underneath to catch the overflow, this gesture was not just an eye-opener, but  big hugs worth, only if they let me!  Ha, don’t I wish Vancouver restaurants could pick up this smart practice, even when serving beer and wine!

special sake glass

 

 

 

Soup for Spring

Asian Pear sweet soup

“Soup for Spring” recipes (As heard on CBC North by Northwest, March 14th)

1. Chicken and Watercress soup 

1 small to medium stewing chicken, skinned and chopped into large pieces

3 pcs. dried honey dates, rinsed

2 cups thickly sliced carrots

2 lbs. fresh watercress, rinse-cleaned and drained (you can use seeded and skinned green papaya and/or green apple instead)

12 to 14 cups of water

  • In a soup pot, bring chicken pieces and 3 cups water to a boil on high. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove chicken pieces. Discard water.
  • Scrape off chicken fat and rinse.
  • Place all ingredients in the soup pot and bring to a boil on high. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for at least two hours covered, leaving a small opening to avoid soup from boiling over. (You can transfer the soup to a slow cooker for the long boil)

2. Asian Pear Sweet Soup

 

3 cups water

2 Tbsp. dried goji berries, rinsed.

¼ cup dried longan, rinsed.

1 large Asian pear, cubed

¼ cup pitted and ready to use gingko nuts, rinsed

50 – 60 gm rock sugar

  • Put water, goji berries and dried longan in a medium saucepan. Cover and soak for 5 minutes.
  • Add pear and gingko nuts, bring to a boil on medium high, covered.
  • Turn heat to low. Add sugar. Cook for 10 minutes covered or until sugar all melts.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes.

 

3. Lemon & Cinnomon Tea

10 oz. hot boiled water

2 slices of fresh lemon

1 x 2” cinnamon stick

Put all ingredients into a cup. Cover and soak for 2 – 3 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_6045

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