The Real Canadian Caravan of Yum

Stephanie Yuen

I’m not a hamburger fan, possibly due to the mess I make every time when I bite into the burger while struggling to hang on to the stack with my small hands.  The result is often discouraging, only the patty and torn segments of the bun end up in my mouth while everything else drops onto the plate or table.

Fortunately for me, there are those inviting mini-burgers they call sliders! 

Petite like canapés, attractive like delicate sandwiches,  a lot easier to manage for ladies, these cute sliders have the look, the meat and the fixings like burgers, but more enticing and easier for the stomach! For hungry souls, grab a few more, be creative, have some fun with different toppings and sauces!

So when President Choices threw their first outdoor summer party to kick off their 2011 Summer Tour, I was so there, on time!  You see, President Choices does make great sliders using beef briskets, which give the sliders the juiciness and good texture, and at a great price too ($6.99 for a box of 18).

But boy, what greeted me was a colourful, eye-catching, outdoor party created by the President Choices caravan made up of a beverage station, a BBQ station and an Ice-cream truck. A real Canadian caravan of yum I say!

At the BBQ station, besides sliders served in mini square ciabatta buns, there were mini sausages tucked in cute and fluffy sliced mini buns, along with all the trimmings and sauces. There were coleslaws tossed with Asian dressing; Moroccan couscous salad  mixed with dried fruits and nuts, and Middle Eastern kofka lamb mini-skewers.  Yes, these gourmet sandwiches may be mini, but they are full-blown delicious and so easy to handle!

Of course I dropped by the ice-cream truck and helped myself to a couple new flavours and fell in love with the pink lemonade one and the chocolate icecream sandwiches!  What a sweet and cool way to enjoy a summer party!

President Choices Summer Tour is visiting Extra Foods/Real Canadian Superstore all summer long.  You can log on to www.pc.ca for details.

What I have to do now is make sure I stock up enough brisket sliders, mini-sausages, the buns, salads and ice-creams during the Canucks and Lord Stanley meets!  See you at the Summer Party!!

‘Everyone’s welcomed’ Metro Vancouver Summer Tour schedule

May 28 Sat 11 to 4 Real Canadian Superstore, 7550 King George Blvd, Surrey

May 29 Sun 11 to 4 Real Canadian Superstore,333 Seymour Blvd, North Vancouver

June 2 Thur 2 to 7 Real Canadian Superstore, 8195- 120St., Delta

June 3 Fri 2 to 7 Real Canadian Superstore,2855 Gladwin Road, Abbotsford

June 5 Sun 11 to 4 Real Canadian Superstore, 19851 Willowbrook Drive, Langley

June 9 Thur 2 to 7 Extra Foods, 32900 S. Fraser Way, Surrey

June 10 Fri 2 to 7 Real Canadian Superstore, 3185 Granview Hwy, Vancouver

BBQ tips from President Choices Executive Chef Tom Fillippou

  • Allow the BBQ to heat up.
  • Prep your BBQ station – make sure everything you need is within reach.
  • Never mix cooked and raw meat/seafood together, do use different sets of utensils.
  • Be patient, make sure the grill is hot enough before you start cooking.
  • Different meats/vegetables requires different cooking time and grilling methods.
  • Do not keep flipping the meat until one side is cooked.
  • Do not put on the sauce too soon, brush on the food just a few minutes before serving.
  • When grilling fish/seafood, use high heat.
  • This barbeque season, MINI is the key.
  • Make sure you clean the grill every time you finish barbequing by wet clean first, then when it cools down, dry-clean with pads or cloths.

Maria Martinez and Bodegas Montecillo Rioja

Stephanie Yuen

     Waiting for us upstairs at Coast Restaurant’s mezzanine as the reception wine is theMontecillo Crianza 2007, a nice clean and warm sip to put us in the mellow mood on such a lovely springy day. I am quite surprised to find how harmonious this wine goes with the grated truffle and urchin roe served in the amazing Amuse bouche Executive Chef Dennis Pecham prepared especially for this lunch. 

      In front of everyone now are 6 glasses of wines, all 100% Tempranillo, Montecillo’s signature wine grape.

Sitting amongst us is Maria Martinez, Bodegas Montecillo’s chief winemaker, the down to earth, no-nonsense wine expert who not only is passionate about Rioja wines, but enjoys making them wholeheartedly. As I see it, this esteemed Murcury Award nominee takes such strong pride in producing fine Montecillo wines, she believes that good wines only comes from good grapes.

To back up this belief, Bedegas Montecillo has to forsake making wines in certain years simply because the grapes are not up to par.  In 1992 and 1999, no wines were made.  In 2004, she only made Crianza..  

Before a winery stamps such a bold decision to give up certain vintages, much advance effort must be generated. The tedious work load starts by paying alert attention to Mother Nature, as well as field inspection on a regular basis.  Physically feeling the vines, rubbing the soil, noting the humidity, sunrays and talking with the growers, and all these, are for not making any wines! One can imagine when the grapes are good enough and ready for picking, how busy Maria and her teams will be! When it is time to confirm the decision, Maria does not oblige. “It is the name and creditability of Bodgas Montecillo to be upheld! Consumers who are confident about our wines will get exactly what they expect when they open one of our bottles.”   

That explains why we are drenched with appreciation and palate pleasure that afternoon. The food-pairing 6 wines poured, from fruitful and spicy 2006 Riojo Reserva to the gem-like 1975 Gran Reserva Selection 1975, epitomize Bodegas Montecillo’s centuries old great success.  They are the result of Maria’s philosophy and tenacious work.

Regrettably, out of these 6 beautifully crafted wines, only the Reserva 2006 is currently listed in BC.  To tell you how delicious this wine is, that afternoon, this wine’s well-balanced acidity and subtle spicy flavour pairs wonderfully with both the tender meat and the refreshing fish, which is the starter course of Rib-eye wrapped Ahi tuna.

 If you happen to see Bodegas Montecillo Rioja’s 100% Tempranillo wines at the other wine stores, grab a few!

Montecillo Crianza

Jackson Triggs’ Celebrated Wines

Henry Yuen

Jackson Triggs' two IWSC 'World's Best' award-winning winesMeet the two IWSC award-wining Jackson Triggs winemakers

What can be expected of an established winery? The resources to craft quality wines that are consistently good year after year plus a wide portfolio of wines cater to every palate.

Jackson Triggs Estate Winery certainly fits the above profile!

Established 23 years ago in the heart of the South Okanagangrape growing region, the founders of Jackson Triggs had the foresight and a long term plan to build an infrastructure that would take years to institute.  Along with the time, effort and endurance required to craft award winning wines, one important element of their success is the introduction of young and well educated winemakers.  Young guns who are compatible, progressive, willing to digest and absorb knowledge and technology and efficiently improve through trial and error encounters.

Derek Kontkanen and Brooke Blair, both university educated and graduates of Oenology program, represent a new generation of winemakers whose families with agricultural background provided positive influence as the early impetus, while their own enthusiasm and determination carry them to success.  Out of twenty wines submitted to the International Wine & Spirit Competition, winning nineteen awards this year is no small feat.  More than just hardware, these are testaments to the forward thinking infrastructure, the care and attention given to both the viticulture and the wine making process. The impact of producing outstanding wines over the years – it means picking up any of Jackson Triggs wines a guaranteed bottle pleasure!      

A recent tasting confirmed the validity of the awards. Garnering the “World’s Best” trophy is the 2007 Grand Reserve Merlot. Merlot thrives in the desert condition of theSouthOkanaganValley terrain with the nearbyOsoyoosLake providing adequate cooling effect at night.  The end product is a wine rich and well-rounded with aromas of dark fruits and cherries, a hint of cocoa and soft tannins. An outstanding full-bodied wine crafted with intention, this wine fully expresses the characteristics of B.C. Merlot.  

Another “World’s Best” is the Jackson Triggs Grand Reserve Riesling Icewine. Jackson Triggs has always crafted exquisite icewines over the years and this crowned Riesling Icewine does not disappoint. With honey and tropical fruit aromas, this icewine is sweet and concentrated with lots of peach and pear flavours plus the perfect balance of acidity for a desert wine. The problem – can’t get enough of this icewine!       

Other equally impressive products worth tasting are the Jackson Triggs Black Series Sauvignon Blanc, Jackson Triggs Gold Series Cabernet Shirz-Viognier and the Jackson Triggs Silver Series Voignier.  It really is a no brainer picking up a bottle of wine from Jackson Triggs. The only questions are, how many and what varietals?

No matter what the answers may be, you and your companion will thank yourself at the end of the evening!