Four Seasons Hotel unveils the newly added Chinese Kitchen

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The Chinese kitchen, lined with brand new equipments and a state-of-the-art traditional Chinese wok station, and the team from Grand Dynasty Restaurant who was cooking up magic in it, welcomed everyone in vogue. Decorated with gold and red satin tabular, vintage Chinese scrolls and posters, an 8-course Chinese dinner of the highest calibre, served western-styled, awed a small group of fortunate media, lucky for me being one of them!

Under the supervision of restaurant owner Louis Kong and the craftsmanship of Executive Chef Anthony Leung, the Grand Dynasty team showcased what Chinese culinary art is all about. This will be the team of excellence behind each and every Chinese banquet and event such as weddings, corporate functions and private celebrations at Four Seasons hotel. Such culinary partnership between Four Seasons Hotel and Grand Dynasty Restaurant is the very first of its kind in BC, if notCanada. Incoming bookings proves how effective and feasible such collaboration is, another fine example of whyVancouveris truly the food city where Chinese cuisine shines.

The evening’s dinner menu, a sample of what banquet Image

guests will be indulging into, was thoughtfully designed and each course divinely crafted.

The two appetizers were:

1/ Minced Squab Birds Nest cupped in a piece of lettuce cut like a small dish thrilled our palates with crunchiness and freshness. 

2/ Crispy Boneless Chicken Wings stuffed with Stir-fried Sticky Rice was a relentless dish to make – the deboning, the stir-frying of sticky rice, the stuffing, then the deep-frying, only a few of us would attempt doing it at home.

Next came the soup:

3/ Winter Melon and Birds Nest Soup: With the texture resembling cucumber and a subtly-sweet flavour, scrapped Winter melon fresh gave the soup a unique body. The touch of birds nest sensationalized each second of the devouring process.

The next three courses were all seafood-themed:

 4/ Braised Fresh Abalone – The firm yet velvety texture that some non-Asian palates find hard to take in, is in fact the integral part of Abalone’s seductive delicacy. The braising part, another challenging process for most home cooks, adds sophistication to this tasty ocean shelled jewel fromAustralia.  Chef Leung chose Pea shoots to complement the abalone.

5/ Sautéed  Signature Lobster, poached, shelled and wok-fried with green onions and ginger, was served on a bed of steamed egg-white.

6/ Steamed Cod, Chinese Ham and Mushroom is a classic banquet fish dish in which slices of cod, ham and Chinese mushroom are fanned out on the platter.  Here, it required fine-detailing and perfect timing when served on individual plates.

The carb dish – Seafood Rice with Abalone Sauce:

7/ The flat of rice, steamed in the huge, round stainless steel steamer is an old method but very common way to cook rice.  I was surprised but totally delighted to see it being done this way here tonight.  The medley of chopped seafood, seasoned with Abalone sauce, was poured onto the bed of rice, stirred and spooned into single bowls.  

The 8th course – Dessert Trio was created by the Hotel’s Pastry Chef, a fun and yum symbol of east meets west: Duck Egg Crème Brule, Kalamansi Fire Ball and Almond Curd with Mango & Lychee.

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Hidden treasure – Cabernet Franc

Henry Yuen – Wine Columnist  http://beyondchopsticks.com

For original Chinese version of this posting, please log on to http://taiyangbao.ca/author/henryyuen/?variant=zh-hans

 

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Image Great pairing: Korean BBQ meat and 2009 Tinhorn Creek Cab Franc

Most wine drinkers with a preference for full bodied wine would normally gravitate towards the popular Cabernet Sauvignon varietals or blends. While there is no doubt that Cabernet Sauvignon is the preferred grape varietals and there are superb choices of well-crafted 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines, a lot of winemakers usually enhance the wine by blending in a small percentage of Cabernet Franc to round out the edges and fine tune the robustness of the Cabernet Sauvignon dominated wine.

Classic example is the Bordeaux style wine where winemakers will blend the predominating Cabernet Sauvignon with various percentages of Merlot and Cabernet Franc to add finesse and tame the tannins in the wine. Meritage, the US version of the Bordeaux blend adopts the same formula quite successfully. In most cases, the success of the blend is in adding certain percentage of Cabernet Franc to enhance the sipping sensation. Here, Cabernet Franc, shall I say, is the unsung hero!

So why is Cabernet Franc, with a drink profile of dark berries, cocoa, tobacco and earthiness, seems to always take a back seat to Cabernet Sauvignon? One theory is that Cabernet Franc is lightly pigmented and therefore gives the misconceptual impression that it is less full-bodied than Cabernet Sauvignon. Yet, though not as dark as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc can provide similar intensity, balance,  richness in its very own characteristic way!

Canada Cabernet Franc of my choice: Tinhorn Creek 2009 Cabernet Franc

The cooler regions in Canada are ideal to planting Cabernet Franc since the grapes will ripe slightly earlier and provide winemakers with room to manoeuvre around other varietals. Both the Niagara and Okanagan regions see increased planting of this varietal. While most wineries will blend Cabernet Franc to make other impressive wines, in my humble opinion, there is one winery that crafted the 100% Cabernet Franc extremely well – Tinhorn Creek Winery in Oliver, B.C.  

Tinhorn’s 2009 Cabernet Franc is crafted from 100% grapes from the Black Sage Bench. The grapes were deliberately left on the skin for a few days to nurture the intensity. After 12 months in American oak, the wine has dark amber colour, medium to full-bodied; with a lovely aroma of black current and dark cherry and subtle hints of earthiness. The entry is inviting, well balanced with a soft touch of oak while the finish is lingering. Priced under $20, it is a well-crafted wine with lots of potential.  Tinhorn Creek’s owner and winemaker Sandra Oldfield and her team have brilliantly proved Cabernet Franc can stand on its own without too much manipulation! In the hands of capable and willing winemakers, Cabernet Franc shall no longer take a back seat to Cabernet Sauvignon.                                 

Food pairing suggestion: Tomato-based meat pasta, Korean-style barbequed beef and pork, Braised Ox-tail with Hoisin and soy sauce, Shanghai-style smoked fish and Chinese smoked meat.

 

The Wine Industry and The Pace of Change

Henry Yuen – Wine columnist

The Vancouver Sun is celebrating its 100th birthday, how fantastic! In such a fast changing world, it is hard to imagine any institution in the community could last a century and still going strong, certain blue print must be done right for sure to achieve this feat.

Ever since the industrial revolution, what people strive for is efficiency. The pace of change is so fast nowadays that whatever is created usually has a very short life span. .  This put a lot of pressure on businesses. In order to adapt, they have to keep re-inventing themselves and constantly prepare to change appropriately to stay in the game.

As for the wine industry, I am sure it is more or less of the same game. While the pressure of “doing it the old way” versus “using new techniques to increase efficiency” are imminent, the two may or may not work in harmony, all other factors considered.  There is no real fine line between what is old and new because the new could become old in a flash!

Recent discussion with Michael Bartier, winemaker at Haywire Winery, confirms this point of view. With the advancement in science, winemaking does benefit from new technology and sciences to a certain degree. Nowadays, soil content can now be easily analyzed in fine details and weather forecast is a lot more accurate simply by moving the mouse on a pad. However, according to Michael, his winemaking process still follows the try and test protocol and, barring any unusual circumstances, he will still stick to the traditional way in crafting his wines! Similarly, for viticulture management, there is no substitute in understanding the terrior by getting dirty from digging the dirt, feeling and looking at the soil. Relying on valuable on-hand experiences still plays an important role in winemaking regardless of all the new techniques and equipments made available. In other words, having the latest equipment and tools does not mean making better wines. And no matter how much the pressure and temptation modern technology and advanced science are bringing forward, the wine industry is far from abandoning the old ways of farming, growing and making good wines.

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:Great soil and climate, experience and hard work make good wine, not high-tech. (Photo credit: Lionel Trudel)

Mark Sheridan, General Manager at Hester Creek Estate Winery, shares the same sentiment even though he admits the other aspects of his overall wine operation do benefit somewhat from the fast pace of change. The popularity of social media benefits the marketing and promotional side significantly. Reaching target customers and connecting with customers directly is so much easier these days. With social media such as Facebook, YouTube and twitter, his customers can now get much closer to the winery and can fully share and feel the passion behind his wines. Yet, Mark stresses that the fundamentals of growing grapes did not change over the years. What change was that science and technology enables timely and accurate information such as soil and moisture condition and a complete log of weather forecast to help make better decisions.

Image Mark believes traditional method is fundamental.

Image Good grapes make good wine – a simple truth!

There is no doubt the fast pace of change has an impact on the science of wine making. From using the traditional cork to screw cap and now box wine, the speed of such changes may be overwhelming. Nevertheless, in the hands of experienced winemakers and experts in the field, sound controls and decisions will always be there.

Sticking to the fundamental of wine making but applying the progress in science and technology to complement the effort seems to be the winning formula. We have beautifully crafted wines to prove just that!

Food & Wine Events of March, 2012

MARKET BY JEAN-GEORGES PRESENTS RETURN OF THE MARTINI 

An Ode to Martini Men & Women

The bartenders of Market by Jean-Georges, under the direction of award-winning, lead barman, Jay Jones, are bringing back the classics, at classic prices, beginning with the martini.  Starting February 27, enjoy a martini – full-sized, of chilled No.3 Gin or Belvedere Vodka, shaken or stirred with your choice of olives, twist or onion at CAD $8.00 – classic.  This classic martini is available seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. until close.

Market’s love affair with classic cocktails continues as bartenders serve up an additional classic cocktail special Monday through Friday.  The “Crazy about the Classics” will offer a daily special: ManhattanMondays, Negroni Tuesdays, Old-Fashioned Wednesdays, Aviation Thursdays, Sazerac Fridays.  These week-day specials, only available on their appointed day, are also priced at $8 on their designated day – no mixing. 

MARKET by Jean-Georges is the first restaurant inCanadafor the three-star Michelin chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and the signature restaurant of Shangri-La Hotel,Vancouver.  Market, open seven days a week from breakfast through dinner, is located on the hotel’s third floor and accessible through the hotel or directly offAlberni Street. 

Reservations can be made by telephone at (604) 695-1115 or via the restaurant’s website – www.marketbyjgvancouver.com

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Glowbal Passport 2012

And how to earn a $100 gift certificate and prizes

For the third consecutive year, The GLOWBAL COLLECTION of restaurants – glowbal grill, COAST, Sanafir, Italian Kitchen, Trattoria, SOCIETY, and Black+Blue – is issuing Glowbal Passports to guests.

From February 29 to March 29, 2012, diners to each of the seven restaurants will be issued and will receive a stamp for each visit at lunch or dinner.

After earning the first stamp, diners will automatically receive 10% off the food portion of the bill. After earning the first stamp, diners will automatically receive 10% off the food portion of the bill at the remaining restaurants visited within the collection. Travel to all of the restaurants during the promotion to earn seven stamps and automatically receive a $100 gift certificate to use at a GLOWBAL COLLECTION restaurant of your choice.

The GLOWBAL COLLECTION will also reward a few lucky seven-stamp-table-travellers with ultimate prizes including the following:

* A weekend stay in West Kelowna at The Cove Lakeside Resort penthouse suite and dinner for six at The Bonfire Grill

* A 2-night stay in Oliver at Tinhorn Creek Winery

* A 1-night stay in Oliver at Burrowing Owl Winery

* A 1-night stay in Penticton at Casa Grande Bed + Breakfast, along with a Grape Friends wine tour for two

* A Big Night Out Package that includes:
Dinner for two at glowbal grill
VIP entrance & table service for you +5 at Barcelona (includes a bottle of vodka and a bottle of bubbly)
A 2-night stay at The Burrard Hotel

And much, much more!
*For each entrée purchased per visit, per restaurant, limit one per person.
**Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount.

Le Gavroche’s famous Lobster Festival is back!

March 2nd to March 31st 

$39 (wine pairings $25)

For the month of March guests can enjoy a lobster-packed three-course dinner for only $39. Set in a historic Victorian house with views of theCoastalMountainsandCoalHarbour, Le Gavroche is the perfect setting to enjoy everyone’s favourite crustacean.

To start, guests will have their choice of a warm lobster salad or creamy lobster bisque. For main courses, it will be tough to choose between fresh cavaletti with freshly shelled chunks of lobster and Parmesan sauce, or the lobster and shrimp cake paired with ling cod, roasted pepper vinaigrette and black rice. And finally for dessert, the special menu concludes with the choice of a creamy Tahitian bean crème brulee, or a decadent duo of chocolate mousse.

To complement this special menu, guests can treat themselves to expert Provençal wine pairings for an additional $25.

Reservations can be made on OpenTable, or by calling the restaurant at 604.685.3924.

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13th annual Healthy Chef Competition

What: Ten teams of competitors, ranging from established restaurants, hotels to culinary schools, will present entrées and desserts to the panel of judges. Under the guidance of Executive Chef Mike Pinter, the judges will evaluate each competitor’s use of fresh produce, taste and plate display. Trophies will be awarded for Best Entrée, Best Dessert, Best Table Showcase, People’s Choice and the Healthy Plate Award. The latter includes a $1,000 prize where judging will focus on how the fresh produce is profiled and overall healthiness of the dish.

When: Wednesday, March 7, 2011, 6:30pm

Who: Master of Ceremonies: Marke Driesschen, CTV Weather Specialist.

            This gala event, a collaboration between the BC Produce Marketing Association (BCPMA) and the BC Chefs Association which brings the food industry together to promote healthy eating, is open to the trade and public,

Where: Hyatt Regency Vancouver,665 Burrard Street,Vancouver.

How: Tickets are $85.00 each and include a fresh box of produce. A limited number of tickets are available to the public at:  http://tiny.cc/Chef2012

13th annual Healthy Chef Competition Highlights

  • Mystery dishes: Guests will receive an envelope at their seat to reveal the entrée and dessert courses they will be served that evening.
  • Awards will be presented to Best Entrée, Dessert, Healthy Plate, Table Presentation and People’s Choice.
  • A presentation of a $7,000  BC Chef’s Junior Scholarship by the BCMPA, a non-profit organization which includes retailers, wholesalers, food service distributors, brokers, growers, importers, transporters, packing, refrigeration and other suppliers. Since its inception in 1956, it has offered members strongly supported interactive activities and programs for all sectors of the fresh fruit and vegetable industry inBritish Columbia.
  • Presentations to three non-profit health organizations (Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation and “Fruits and Veggies Mix it Up” for Better Health program)
  • Silent Auction, Live Auction,  Balloon Pop Prize, 50/50 Draw
  • Musical entertainment provided by the Ross Barrett Jazz Quartet