Wine Fest and More – You’re invited!

International wine fest 2013 David Niddrie pix

1)     VIWF Salutes French and Sparkling wines

The 36th Vancouver International Wine Festival, running from February 24, 2014 to March 02, 2014  will have 54 events of food and wine spreading out into 7 days. The theme for this year is France and the focus – Sparkling wines!

Total of 178 wineries from 14 countries will be participating and pouring over 1,000 wines at the general tasting session. 9 wine regions from France will be showcasing their wines. Come mingle with the vine stars and some of the city’s exciting chefs:

Theme Country Vine Stars: France

Michel Chapoutier, Winemaker, M. Chapoutier

Meet Michel Chapoutier in: Rhône Perfection: M. Chapoutier; Wine Tour de France; Meet Your Match; Insatiable Rhône      (at   Hawksworth restaurant, with chef David Hawksworth)

Etienne Hugel, Proprietor, Hugel et Fils
Meet Etienne Hugel in: What’s Trending in France? Masterclass; Iconic French Wines; France: Find Your Style

Thomas Perrin, Owner, Famille Perrin
Meet Thomas Perrin in: The Birthplace of Terroir masterclass; Iconic French Wines; 11th Annual Awards Lunch; Meet Your Match; Salut   Château Beaucastel (at Bistro Pastis with proprietor John Blakeley)

Sigfried Pic, International Export Director, Maison Louis Jadot
Meet Sigfried Pic in: Wine 305: Advanced Burgundy; The Birthplace of Terroir masterclass; Iconic French Wines; We Say Bourgogne;   France: Find Your Style; Nothing But Burgundy (at Le Crocodile with chef Michel Jacob)

Christian Seely, Managing Director, AXA Millésimes; President, Compagnie Médocaine
Meet Christian Seely in: Renaissance of a Top Château

Clovis Taittinger, Export Manager/Family Member, Champagne Taittinger
Meet Clovis Taittinger in: Wine Tour de France; All about Bubbly!Iconic French Wines; L’Instant Taittinger (at West with chef Quang Dang)

Philippe Zinck, Winemaker/Proprietor, Domaine Zinck Vins d’Alsace
Meet Philippe Zinck in: The Birthplace of Terroir masterclass; Wine Tour de France; France Bubbly Party

Rest of the World Vine Stars

Joe Giusti, Owner, Giusti Prosecco
Meet Joe Giusti in: All About Bubbly!

Matt Mavety, Winemaker, Blue Mountain
Meet Matt Mavety in: All About Bubbly!; 25 Under $25

Jak Meyer, Proprietor/Winemaker, Meyer Family Vineyards
Meet Jak Meyer in: Meet Your Match; Meyer Family Feast (at Brix   with chef Chris Bisaro); BC Paired: Indulge Your Senses

Barone Francesco Ricasoli, President, Barone Ricasoli
Meet Barone Francesco Ricasoli in: The Essence of Chianti winery   dinner (at Siena with owner Mark Taylor and chef      Jessica Howery); Dine Italia lunch (at La Terrazza with chef Gennaro Iorio); Excitement in a Glass

2013 wine festival glimpse

Besides general tasting, seminars, wine pairing dinners and luncheons events, new to this year’s wine festival are:

1. additional March 01 Saturday afternoon 3pm to 5pm general tasting session guarantee 30% less attendance so its easier to get to the booths.

2. 1 free ticket to the general tasting session if you book 1 night at one of 37 downtown hotels room through or 2 tickets if book 2 nights.

Get your tickets early to avoid disappointment! For further information and tickets, please check out

1)     Dinners with Sonoma County Vintners in Vancouver

Two exceptional Sonoma County winemaker dinners in   Vancouver.  Hurry up and get your   tickets as space is limited!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reception 6:30, Dinner 7:00

1/ Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar will   feature the wines of Sonoma County’s Siduri Wines and Novy Family   Wines, hosted by Siduri Proprietor Adam Lee. Blue Water’s Executive Chef,   Frank Pabst, will prepare a special four-course dinner menu to match the   wines.

1095 Hamilton Street, Vancouver

Tickets are $165 including taxes   and gratuities: purchase yours by calling 604-688-8078.

2/ Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar will showcase Rodney   Strong Vineyards, Wine Enthusiast’s 2013 American Winery of the Year. The   Sonoma County region winery’s top wines will be presented by Winemaker Rick   Sayre and paired with an unforgettable four-course dinner plus reception. The   main course will feature three of Rodney Strong’s award winning single   vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons.

1138 Homer Street, Vancouver

Tickets are $110 plus taxes and   gratuities: purchase yours by calling 604-915-9463.

Sonoma County

Sonoma in the City Wine Tasting Event

February 5th, the Sonoma in the City event will give Vancouverites a taste of the region’s quality and diversity, with more than 20 wineries and their principals pouring classic California varietals as well   as some pleasant surprises.

List of participating wineries:

  • Davis Bynum
  • Dry Creek Vineyard
  • Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery
  • Foppiano Vineyards
  • Francis Ford Coppola Winery
  • J Vineyards & Winery
  • Jordan
  • Kendall-Jackson
  • Kosta Browne Winery
  • Kunde Family Estate
  • Laurel Glen Vineyard
  • MacRostie Winery and Vineyards
  • Novy Family Wines
  • Paul Hobbs Winery
  • Pedroncelli Winery
  • Red Car Wines
  • Rodney Strong Wine Estates
  • Schug Carneros Estate Winery
  • Seghesio
  • Siduri Winery
  • Thomas George


Dine Out Galore

Henry & Stephanie Yuen (Chinese blog –  )

No matter if you’re a foodie or not, you’ve got to know about “Dine Out Vancouver”! Being in its 12th year, the chance of you hanging out with friends or families in one or more of the Dine Out participating restaurants during the 15 days of Dine Out in past years should be pretty high.

The fact is, from 40+ restaurants to the astounding number of 263 today, and that media from as far as Britain is discovering how successful “Dine Out Vancouver” has been, and with the price tags of $18, $28 and $38 for a 3-course meal, we Vancouverites should be supporting this wonderful food & wine event. Besides choosing and dining in any one or two or more of the 263 restaurants, there’re dozens of fun-filled events which are hosted by some of the city’s who’s who characters. For instance, our very own Man About Town Fred Lee (CBC & The Province) will be conducting The Grape Debate 2014 on Friday, Jan 31 at the Vancouver Public Library. $38 gets you into the Debate, followed by wine tasting presented by Alumni UBC and the Wine of British Columbia.????????????????????????

We urge you to log onto , check out the list of restaurants from each group and the different events taking place between Jan 17 to Feb 02, and book your seats ASAP! Don’t forget to find out how you can win prizes – what about ‘Dine Out For a Year Contest?

We started riding the Dine Out waves by previewing these three restaurants.

A)   Roma BurgerYaletown, W. 4th,  River District$18  and  $28

Located in three different areas with distinctly different backdrops, you may feel like the three Roma Burgers are not related.  Well, their settings and ambiance do vary, but they’re offering the same Dine Out menu.  There are plenty mains to choose from for non-burger fans; such as the Fish and Chips and a Quinoa Burger for vegetarian which is amazingly delicious and well-structured! But I guarantee you will fall in love with those appetizers and salads. No one says you cannot share your fries, the wings and of course, keep those mini donuts to yourself!


Drinks:  The mellow and fruity Prospect Winery Major Allen Merlot will not disappoint any wine sippers. Juicy, lengthy with subtle woody aroma, it does go well with the dripping burgers.  Most of the white wines are from our own backyard, plus a good selection of easy to please wine on taps. Craft beer fans can take a look at the black board for choices.

Our $18 recommendations:

The Fish Shack

Hapa Izakaya – Kitsilano

Luke’s Corner Bar & Kitchen

Memphis Blues

Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts – Bistro 101

Trattoria Italian Kitchen

       B. The Parker  $28

Another non-orthodox vegetarian restaurant in town whose slogan of ‘sustainable & sexy’ put them on the list of 2013’s new ‘hot spot’ in town.  Of course, Executive Chef Curtis Luk’s partake in the last Top Chef Canada had already given them the edge.  Everyone loves the fresh, local ingredients Luk sources and applies brilliantly.




The plates are so beautiful, the flavour and textures so rich, the execution in fine details, so please do not consume them in a flash,  take the Cauliflower appetizer as a great example – do enjoy with your eyes and noses first, than indulge – you may easily forget what you’re eating are non-meat dishes. IMG_5969

Drinks: Out of the 4-page menu, only 1+1/3 belongs to the food section, the remaining spaces are all about cocktails and wines, a strong indication of how much attention is given to making sure diners enjoy their liquid food as much.  Cocktails with fun or fancy names are very tempting, but we found the Liquidity white, a BC Okanagan blend to be quite a palate-pleaser. Floral and refreshing, this  will pair well with most of Chef Luk’s vegetarian creation.

Our $28 recommendations:

Cactus Club Café (Bentall, English Bay, Park Royal, Yaletown)

Café Pacifica (Pan Pacific Hotel)


Cibo Trattoria

Forage (Robson)

The Italian Kitchen (Alberni)

Le Parisien



Pier 73


Tap & Barrel (Coal Harbour, Olympic Village)

C. Wildebeest  $38

Located on Hastings in the Gastown district, Wildebeest interprets the ‘wild’ in its name artfully.  Daringly created dishes served communal style put the restaurant onto the honour roll. It did not take long at all for Wildebeest to develop its very own image and secured its luring power.IMG_5972

From a simple salad such as the Wildebeest Salad with crunchy apple, winter herbs and frozen mascarpone; the Lamb Tartare dressed with heritage onions, horseradish emulsion and mustard seed gastrique; to the Roasted Chick’etta’ with winter squash and black garlic vinaigrette, the dining process is a sensational experience. Please note: Dine Out menus are individual plates.



Drinks: Wildebeest offers an extensive wine list, including a couple of Junmai Sake. We thoroughly enjoyed what went into our glasses: Wildebeest’s own label wines, a red (Gamay & pinot Noir) and a white (Riesling, Gerwurztraminer & Pinot Gris) blend that match Chef Wes Young’s cooking style and food profile nicely.  A diligent collaboration with Road 13 Winery resulted in 50 cases of each blend. By the look of the crowds in the dining room, it won’t take long for Wildebeest to consider another new batch.

Our $38 recommendations.

Coast Restaurant

DIVA at the Met

Five Sails Restaurant

Hart House

Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House

The Keg



Yew Restaurant + Bar (Four Seasons Hotel)




Cipes Rosé Sparkling – Top 10 of the World!

Words: Henry Yuen (Chinese blog: )

How are you going to celebrate the arrival of 2014?

No matter how 2013 was for you, you will be looking forward to better, if not great things in 2014! There might have been ups and downs throughout the year but the good news is, there’s always a fabulous way to end 2013 with a bang! Guess what, you can do your count down celebration with a world class award winning sparkling wine that you can call your own – the Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Rosé Sparkling – a beautiful British Columbia sparkling that has just been awarded a gold medal at the Effervescents du Monde sparkling wine competition in Burgundy, France! Not only that, this Sparkling Rosé has been named one of the top 10 in the world! And, of the 46 gold medal awarded, the Summerhill Cipes Rosé is the one and only one from North America to win a medal, let alone making it to the top 10 of the world. In other words, it beats out all the competitors from California, Ontario and producers from other North American wine regions!
What are the significances you might ask?

Firstly, for a BC wine to be awarded a gold medal and named to the top 10 in the world tells the world our wines are as good as the other big-name producers’ wines – this is a huge achievement for Summerhill Pyramid Winery as well as British Columbia!
Secondly, to win a sparkling wine award in France is never easy; especially when we are talking about winning an award in the home turf of where the indigenously famous Champagne is. This is more than accomplishing big. What better testament than to beat out 600 wines from 30 countries in front of 100 judges with 50% of them pride their trade in the home turf of France?

Summerhill Pyramid Winery has been one of the longest standing and more progressive organic wineries in Canada and is the first to receive the highly regarded certified biodynamic designation in the Okanagan. The result is in their wines. This Cipes Sparkling Rosé is 100% Pinot Noir from vineyards in the Okanagan Valley with the grapes specifically and extremely carefully tended to with the intention of making a sparkling wine using the traditional champagne method. It’s definitely a triumph for the Cipes family and winemaker, Eric von Krosigk, who have always been firm believers that when the land is embraced and taken care of first, their high hopes of Okanagan Valley as a wine region  capable of producing award winning wines will come later.
Instead of my trying to describe this award winning Summerhill Cipes Sparkling Rosé by throwing out all the big wine terms, the oohs and aahs adjectives to parlay this wine, why don’t you go grab one! I believe it is best for you to start sipping this top 10 wine of the world yourself so you’ll have your own words of description and most rewardingly, the first hand mouth-feel and palate appreciation. You’ll then agree with the judges and understand why this wine will fit any of your celebrations. Cheers!

Raise a glass or two…

AM1470 Modern Deborah – Tuesday, Dec 17, 2013

Chinese post:

British Columbia Wines
1/ Sparkling
Cipes Rosé, Summerhill Estate Winery
The Cipes Rosé Sparkling, perfect for any occasions, is made in the traditional Champagne method and is a 100% organic Pinot Noir cuvee. It is the only North American wine that won one of the 46 gold medals awards and made the top 10 list last month at the “Effervescents du Monde” who are the leading authority on quality sparkling wine. With an assembly of over 100 international expert judges applying strict guidelines and sampling over 600 wines from almost 30 countries. This is a perfect gift for even the pickiest wine savvies.

Stella Jay Brut, Sumac Ridge Estate Winery
An award-winning and iconic BC sparkling wine with true stellar status and superior quality, this golden and crispy brut is an brilliant blend of red and white: Pinot Noir, Chardonna and Pinot Blanc. Sweet aroma of strawberry and fragrant peach, enticing notes of passion fruit and rambutan that leads to a creamy mouth feel. Drink it before and during dinner, or even with savoury snacks in the afternoon, and of course, with a Sunday brunch.stella jay brut
2/ Red
2010 Meritage – Backyards Vineyards (Langley, BC)
A beautiful Meritage with an outstanding blending formula: Merlot, Cab Sauvignon, and Cab Franc. The entrance may be a bit quiet but once it opens up, the ripe berry note with a subtle hint of 5-spices starts to cuddle you palate, leading to a finish with is both elegant and flavourful. At $20, the value of this wine is exceptional.
2011 Pinot Noir – Haywire Winery
With grapes grown in Summerland and fermentation done in the egg-shaped concrete tanks, this Pinot Noir brings lots of surprises to the palate, thanks to the aging in the 3-year old barrel. The complex flavour and smooth texture, pleasant notes of red dates, cherries and a hint of cranberries along with soft tannins give this wine mellow, lengthy finish.2011 haywire PN

Backyard Vineyards - 2010 Meritage

3/ White
2012 Chasselas – St. Hubertus Estate Winery
This beautiful made-in-BC Swiss wine is floral and bright. 11.1% alcohol gives the wine a mellow and easy-to-please mouth feel, but the hints of summer fruits stays in the palate. An Asian cuisine delight, this white goes well with Asian salad, wok-fried prawn, quick hot-oil pan-fried geoduck slices, sushi and sashimi.
2012 Character White – Hester Creek Estate Winery
Another great wine to be had with Asian food, this is Hester Creek’s good value signature white blend which delivers luring aroma and tropical fruit notes with hints of citrus. Well-balanced structure and smooth texture render this wine a good match with dimsum, Shanghai dumplings, chicken pot-pies, mildly-spiced crab and lobster in cream sauce.Character White 2012Prod-Bu-Chasselas









4/ Dessert Wine
2011 Riesling Icewine – Inniskillin
Syrupy, rich and blanketed with a symphony of tropical fruit aromas, this liquid of gold is laced with sweet notes of dripping nectarine, peach and dried apricot. Already a dessert on its own, this wine can go well with deep-fried banana with ice-cream, Chinese pastries stuffed with pumpkin, bean paste and lotus paste.2011 Riesling Icewine, Inniskillin
Imported Wines

2012 Saumur “Les Pouches” Chenin Blanc – Loire Vallely, France
With centuries of cultivation history in Loire Valley, Chenin Blanc happens to be a wine that matches Chinese cuisine nicely, be it spicy or high wok-energy. Juicy, crisp and refreshing with balanced acidity, the floral aroma of this wine meanders in the palate. The hint of rock sugar sweetness harmonizes the peppery Sichuan spicy and its clean crisp cuts through oily meat dishes.
2013 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand
Sauvignon Blanc is the signature varietal of New Zealand while both Kim Crawford and Marlborough are the key stamps behind a good sauvignon Blanc,.  This 2013 released just in time to kick-off the holiday season with Thanksgiving as a starter. This first brew tea colour wine renders a tropical fruit aroma of Asian pear and a hint of mandarin peel with a fresh, lively body goes well with Turkey and the trimming, therefore is a good fit for the holiday tables. Juicy and fruity, this wine will also a good sipper to start any gathering.
2012 Ruffino Chianti, Italy
Our Asian Chianti fans will enjoy this Tuscan wine for its great value ($14.95), its premium quality and the fact that it does elevate the flavour and texture of most barbequed or roasted meat items such as the Chinese barbequed duck and char-siu. Verifying further that this Chianti will be an added pleasure to the Luner New Year Table. The price point of this wine may be a bit misleading because the grapes are indeed grown in one of the best wine regions in the world!
2009 Ruffino Riserva Ducale, Chianti Classico, Italy
This classic and elegant Chianti will satisfy any big red wine lovers with its influx of floral and fruity notes. The entrance of this wine demands full attention, with hints of peppery spices, subtle toffee and ripened cherries swirl the palate, sip it with game roasts, lamb stews and Sichuan pork dishes; and if you desire, with heavy cheese, chocolate torte and baked tapioca layered with lotus seed paste.IMG_5889ruffino Riserva Ducale 2009 #2

Loire Valley, 2012 Chenin BlancRuffino Chiante 2012

Tis’ The Season for Food & Fun

Ginger bread houssesHoliday treats #1

Words & Pix: Henry & Stephanie Yuen (Chinese blog: )

If you happen to visit Hong Kong this holiday…

Check out 12th Hong Kong WinterFest that highlights “Wishes on the Wind” for the first time at Statue Square, Central.  Three dandelions, each measuring five storeys (15 metres) high, form the art installation. The artwork also consists of 18 seeds, scattered in different corners of Statue Square. This contemporary art installation representing the seeds of hope and good wishes amidst special music and lighting effects and lights up daily from 6pm during “Hong Kong WinterFest” with the lighting effects, in tandem with music. 
The Peak and Sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck: Love Christmas at The Peak invites all those with romance on their mind to visit and make the season special with spectacular day and night-time views. The Sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck will be staging a Christmas Party in the Sky, complete with those incomparable views.
Excursion to Ngong Ping 360 Glittering Christmas Village, a unique al fresco experience that includes a festively decorated village on LantauIsland and even carol singing for all on the spectacular cable-car ride. For more details and event listings: 

Romantic holiday or family get-away to Ucluelet

Wya Point Resort, Ucluelet, BC ’s new year-round eco-luxury destination, is tucked into a lush coastal rainforest next to an exclusive beach is inviting  guests to ring in the holiday season with its West Coast Christmas package. This package includes a three-night stay in a luxurious beachfront lodge complete with a chef-prepared meal, wine pairings and a Christmas tree trimmed by Wya Point Resort’s very own elves.

On the evening of your choice, Wya Point Resort’s chefs will prepare a holiday meal with wine pairings, and will also deliver your feast right to your door. All you need to do is pour the wine, cozy up next to the fire, and bask in the warm glow of your twinkling Christmas tree while dinner cooks in the oven. At bedtime, snuggle up under luxury linens as the sound of crashing waves lulls you into a restful sleep.

Way Point’s “The West Coast Christmas Package” includes:

           – Three-night stay in a one- or two-bedroom lodge

            – Holiday meal for two or four

            – Wine paired with meal

            – Decorated Christmas tree to enjoy in your living room

Festival of Trees Celebrations
Four Season Hotel Vancouver lights up The 27th Annual Festival of Trees and transforms the Hotel’s first and second-floor lobbies showcases Christmas trees creatively decorated by various sponsors to raise funds and awareness for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

This charming display marks the start of the All trees will be on display in the lobby of Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and in the Pacific Centre Mall located in downtown Vancouver until January 6, 2014.

Before or after you go and bewitched by the glittering trees,  don’t forget to stop by YEW restaurant and pick up one or more of their famous and highly-demanded holiday Stollen – Dense, rum-soaked and wrapped around a core of creamy marzipan, this much anticipated Christmas treat is back for a limited time only.  Once again legendary baker and former Four Seasons Vancouver chef, Gerhart Weitzel steps out of retirement and back into the kitchen with his decades-old secret recipe to bake thousands of this traditional delight.  Call head for orders of four or more – 604.692.4939.

Sutton Place Hotel’s Festival of Trees and Turkey-To-Go Dinner with all the trimmings 

Sutton Place Hotel, with a parade of creatively decorated Christmas trees also for the same good cause, is another great place to stroll around this season. Do check out their very popular Yuletide Brunch.  If you want to enjoy a traditional Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings and without all the work, the team of chefs here, led by Chef Alex Chan, will prepare a mouth-watering turkey dinner and have it ready for you to pick up. Available December 24th, 25th & 26th.

$350.00 excluding GST (Serves 8 – 12 people)
Approximate weight of turkey is 18lbs.

Dinner includes:
• Roasted Turkey
• Herb Stuffing
• Brussel Sprouts
• Ragout of Vegetables
• Mashed Potatoes
• Cranberry Sauce
• Turkey Jus
• Dinner Rolls
• Cranberry Cheese Cake

Orders will be taken until Thursday, December 20th at 12:00pm (while quantities last) 604.682.5511

Tree Festival

Self-indulging, stocking stuffing, gift giving…

Dickens Lunch Buffet at Hart House Restaurant

Burnaby residences or their neighbours have been enjoying this holiday treat for years. This is the last week to indulge into the classic Christmas tables of traditional goodies. Don’t forget BurnabyHeritageMuseum is just next door! 604-298-4278

David Hawksworth’s Bel Café   604-673-7000

a mini Christmas tree made with macarons at BellaFor those coming in for a time-out from all the shopping and downtown activities, try not to come in full, leave room for all the devilish sweet temptations. Always allow time to sit down for a cup of artisan tea, coffee or even wine, what about a cup of Eggnog Latte?  Macaron fans please go with friends of families so you can finish the ‘Bel Macaron Christmas Tree’ all at once. Of course, you can take them home too, along with other take-home sweet treats such as the Bel Buche de Noel and the Bel Christmas Cake!   

Don’t forget, you can always go next door to the Cocktail Bar and start off with the award-winning Chef’s to-die-for snacks, perhaps a dish of DFC – deep fried cauliflower!Chef Hawksworth and his delectable DFC


Siena Restaurant is rewarding South Granville merchant shoppers with 15% discount this month till December 30th. All you have to do is show a purchase receipt when you dine at Siena Restaurant. This offer is available nightly after 7:30pm.  Enj0y all bottles of wine at 50% every Monday.

     Siena Restaurant: 1485 W. 12th Ave W, Vancouver. (604) 558-1485

Oyama fans beware! The Oyama Sausage Fast Lane at Granville Island is back by popular demand! If you have not yet done so, email orders online at or call 604 327 7407 ASAP because quantities are limited! For entire pre-order, special pick-up spot set-up on December 22nd, 23rd and 24th from 9:00-4:00 at Granville Island’s entrance to Oyama Sausage. Please allow at least 2 hours notice and bypass the numbers and pick up at this spot upon arrival, someone will look right after you. Please remember to pre-order everything to use this service. Any add-ons require you to take a number, to be fair to everyone else. Please remain at our store when you take a number, do not leave. Otherwise, if we pass by you, you will have to take a new number when you come back.Oyama

Ready-to-gift BC VQA wines available at no extra cost in 10 participating BC Liquor Stores, from now until Christmas:

39th & Cambie 5555 Cambie Street, Vancouver
8th & Cambie 2395 Cambie Street, Vancouver
Alberni & Bute 768 Bute Street, Vancouver
Broadway & Maple 2088 West Broadway, Vancouver
Dunbar 3453 Dunbar Street, Vancouver
LynnValley 15 – 1199 Lynn Valley Road, North Vancouver
Northgate 103 – 3433 North Road, Burnaby
Park Royal 570 Park Royal North, West Vancouver
Richmond Brighouse 100 – 8100 Ackroyd Road, Richmond
Westwood 100 – 2748 Lougheed Highway, Port Coquitlam

 Check out to get more details.

Maboroshi & sushi

Eat Toronto – The joy of sake pairing at Ki Modern Japanese + Bar

Ki decor

Ki Modern Japanese + Bar
181 Bay Street  (416) 308-5888

Words & pix: Henry & Stephanie Yuen

(Chinese blog: )

We were not expecting to see standing-room only happy hour crowd at 7pm on a Monday night.   The thought that perhaps we had the dates mixed up while trying to convince ourselves today was not Friday diminished when the hostess found our reservation in the book. We found out later such is a normal restaurant scene on most weekdays in popular restaurants around downtown Toronto, thanks to the financial and corporate offices inside every towering building spilling out flows of well-dressed ladies in high-heel shoes and nicely-suited gentlemen who gather after work to grab a drink and a bite, to socialize with the peers and quite often, to execute some ladder-climbing motions with managements or sealing business deals. Oh yes, the commercial pulses in Toronto are on a much higher speed, during and after business hours!

But of course, there is always the harsh reality that restaurants without good food and apt vibe will still be left out of the scene. The contemporary décor and energetic crowds in front of the stretch cocktail bar set the mood the instant you step inside Ki. High ceiling, geometric furnishings and attractive colour schemes feed the vibration.  It has the casual feel of an upscale chain restaurant and the detailed elegance of an oriental fine-dining club. The girls at the reception and our service team of duo greeted us warmly and provided attentively, indicating calibre staff training which is a must but not necessary found in all restaurants.

We  believe the best way to see how Chefs work with the freshest ingredients available in the market is let them take care of our order and allow the surprise factor to elevate the dining pleasure. To add to this anticipated Ki experience was the presence of Ontario’s very first Certified Advance Sake Professional Michael Tremblay, the Head National Sake Sommelier designing and perfecting Ki’s sake programs in both the Toronto and Calgary locations.

Maboroshi & sushi

The protégé of N. American’s renowned Sake Expert John Gauntner, Tremblay hones his Sake knowledge by going to Japan’s top Sake Breweries to observe and talk to the masters all the time. The impressive sake menu at Ki’s confirms Tremblay’s profound passion and deep lore in this ancient art.  For sake enthusiasts, ‘sake’ conversations with Tremblay, as he unveils the how and the w5’s of sake making, from choosing the rice and water to the histories of the families and their breweries, is inarguably the highlight of sake-dining here. Tell him what you’re having; his pairing recommendation often becomes the integral part of the meal.Tremblay suggested two sakes, one cold and one warm, to charm our palates that evening. “Cold sake should stay between 10 to 20C while warm sake can be sipped at 40 to 55C. Some sake can be enjoyed at room temperature.” Tremblay explained, “Place unfinished opened bottles of cold sake back to the refrigerator, 2nd fermentation will take place otherwise.” 

Abocore tuna with a beautiful floral designWe started with Nakoa ‘Maboroshi’ Junmai Ginjo from Hiroshima served cold in a wine glass. Hiroshima is the birth place of ginjo and Nakoa Brewery started in 1871. Brewed from 58% ground grains, this Maboroshi Junmai ginjo has a beautiful written Chinese character meaning ‘mirage’ on the bottle.  Clear and crisp, this mildly sweet ginjo is quite mellow with subtle aroma, a good sake for beginners and to wake up the palate, no doubt a lovely start to a great dinner, it can be sipped on its own too.

To go with this, we had the Albacore Tuna Tataki with Sweet Chili Dressing, the Torched Salmon Belly and sesame and white miso sauce garnished with dried red pepper and ginger, shaped like a flower. The plate of 6 pieces of almost carved-like sushi was so beautiful it took our breath away for a few seconds, luckily our desire to sink our teeth into it stayed put. You can imagine how exotic one of the sushi – Iko Squid marinated in white truffle oil was and how excited we were to indulge!

Juicy pork bellyWith hot items, we had affably served warm sake from Ontario Spring Water Sake Co. here in Toronto.  Meaning ‘creek’, the‘Izumi’ Junmai Nama Genshu was poured from a dark clay pot into authentic sake cups which we sipped with admiration. Using premium junmai rice grown in California and water in Ontario, Izumi is a floral unfiltered wine with a lengthy finish. Interestingly, different aspects of the wine character surfaced and somehow harmonized with the nutty-sweetness of the crispy-skin pork belly, the creamy texture of the soft yet firm scallops and the capturing soy-flavoured grilled short ribs.  Higher alcohol content and bolder structure give this wine length and depth.

Jumbo scallopsNicely presented warm sake

The popularity of sake in Toronto has been on the rise, as indicated by sold out sake events and festivals. Ki’s sake menu is likely one of the most listed and descriptive sake menu in Canada. We both agreed the simple but functional menu is an education tool in itself, a good read for sure for novice or veteran sake lovers. With Tremblay’s immense knowledge in sake and his tireless effort reaching out and explaining to each table ordering sake; no wonder Ki’s sake program is so successful.   


Wyndham Estate Winery – The shiraz for the evening

George Wyndham Founders Reserve 2010 Shiraz - bottle image

Words: Henry Yuen

(Chinese post: )

     I am of the opinion that staying power is a virtue in the wine business. Why? Simply because the longer a winery has been in business, the better indication that they are on the right track as far as wine production is concerned. No arguments that older wineries gather strong creditability and recognition in the wine world; given the time and proven wine quality status, the respect and attention from the wine public come along naturally.

In New South Wales, Australia, Wyndham Estate Winery has been in business since the eighteen hundreds. First planted Shiraz in 1830 in HunterValley north of Sydney, Wyndham is the pioneer of Australian wines. The winery has evolved and grown over the years but the fine quality of wine-making heritage is still very much in evidence.

While changes, including personnel over the years, are inevitable; the long and solid history however upholds the very essential keys – assured consistency and firm leadership which allows the delivery of quality wines vintage after vintage.

At a unique tasting recently, their 2010 Wyndham Estate Langhorne Creek Founder Reserve Shiraz was featured. The challenge for the chef of Fable Restaurant Trevor Bird was to design a multi-course dinner to pair with this one Shiraz. The objective was to showcase the versatility of this full-bodied wine – a very different yet enthralling approach for sure! To no surprise, this singular wine sailed through the evening complimenting Chef Bird’s well-planned menu with flying colour.

This Shiraz, Wyndham’s mid-range wine under the banner of founder George Wyndham, is an outstanding and definitive Australian classic Shiraz with supple berries and dry plum on the nose, and a hint of herb, mint and cocoa to charm the palate that finishes with an illusive smokiness. 20 months in both new and one year old French and American oak contributes to its soft tannins and jammy mouth-feel, which matched the structured and the savoury parsnip and apple soup with subtle sweetness served room temperature; while the weight of the soup held up nicely to the accompanying creamy blue cheese garnished with dates and bacon. Travor’s choice of the locally farmed rabbit leg with a lighter meat density embraced the softness of the tannin of this velvety wine in harmony. The second meat course – braised beef Stiletto with triple-cooked potatoes and porcini in the Shiraz jus captured my full attention the moment it was placed in front of me.  The tender, juicy, flavour-drenched beef; the seductive potatoes and the rustic porcini waltzed gracefully with the luscious Shiraz in my mouth.

To remind us that red wines could certainly pair with dessert, Trevor created a dark chocolate terrine with olive oil ice cream. The slight bitterness of the chocolate and a touch of saltiness of the ice-cream mingling together enhanced the smokiness in the wine, rendering a lengthy aftertaste. Kudos to the beautiful marriage of this lovely George Wyndham Shiraz crafted by Chief winemaker Steve Meyer and Chef Todd’s brilliant culinary creations! Chef’s menu choices confirmed the fact that one good wine could go a long way; and vice versa, a well-structured and tasty wine was quite often, all one needs to enjoy a good meal.Steve Meyer - Wyndham Estates 01

The evening further attested “Older is wiser” is the true testament here for Wyndham Estate Winery whose century-old strength and skills along with years of experience in crafting exceptional wines. The profound arts and pleasure of food and wine pairing can now be reflected in a simple manner – one wine, one meal!

12月3日 AM1470 摩登狄寶娜: 飲食博客beyondchopsticks節目筆記

1. Bald Eagle Viewing哈里信河禿鷹全接觸

a) 75-minute Eagle Expedition觀鷹河上遊

FraserRiver Safari Boat 1-866-348-6877 or 604-826-7361

Gather at集合地點: Kilby Historic Site – 215 Kilby Road, Harrison Mills, BC.

David & Safari River Cruise 

b) Pretty Estates Resort  (Sandpiper Golf Course)

Obervation Deck at the beach河岸賞鷹台

14282 Morris Valley Road, Harrison Mills, BC. 604-796-1000

沿著路牌指示,經過仍然綠油油的高球場,便可抵達河邊沙灘上的賞鷹台。1 eagle 2 seagulls asea

C) River’s Edge Restaurant at Pretty Estates Resort價廉物美質優高球場食肆

Cheap and good eats before and after bald eagle viewing

A cozy dining room offering homemade-style lunch and dinner using local ingredients.A hearty lunch at River's Edge

d) Rowena’s Inn at Pretty Estates Resort英式懷舊氣氛中嘆英式下午茶

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon Tea in an authentic English tea room.Rowena's Inn afternoon tea

2.  Oh Christmas Trees and Gingerbread Houses

IMG_5828a) Christmas Trees Festival: 聖誕樹為卑詩兒童醫院籌款爭妍麗


Burrard街Sutton Place Hotel

太平洋商場Four Seasons Hotel

b) Gingerbread Houses:

Burrard街Hyatt Regency HotelIMG_5811

3. 1001 Nights at Shangri-La Hotel香格里拉一千零一夜

1128 W. Georgia. 604-689-1120

a) Marchants Market 迷你中東市集 – A mini traditional souq market featuring hand-made jewelry, custom-made Persian rugs; and seductive bags of sweets, roasted nuts, herbs, dried fruits and vegetables.  3 – 7pm weekdays, 1 – 7pm weekends.

b) Flavours of the Middle East at Xi Shi Lounge西施廊中東美食 – Popular items such as hummus, falafel, kibbeh and those with strange names such as baba ghanooj, tabbouleh, shish tawouk.baba ghanoushi

c) Live music and entertainment: 歌舞賀佳節

Monday to Saturday 5-7pm Traditional sitar and oud music星期一至六,五至七時傳統樂器演奏

Thursday evenings – Middle Eastern jazz-fusion music by Tarab, a Vancouver-based band. 星期四晚中東爵士樂隊演唱

Friday and Saturday nights – Belly dancers!!


A DIY week-end get-away to Okanagan Wine regions


Henry Yuen (Chinese blog:                                             )

To thoroughly enjoy a wine tour of the Okanagan, a lot of people assume a weekend trip will be an undercut. I can certainly understand the rationale as there are so many fun things to do and interesting places to visit. With over 200 wineries and growing, it certainly is a challenge to choose where to go and perhaps a bit greedy to try and cover the entire area searching for a particular vinous exploration.

Having said that, if you only have a weekend, an awesome trip to the Okanagan to taste food and wines is more than achievable than you may think. Sure, a thorough map-out plan would enhance the journey but not necessary since over the years Okanagan’s hospitality industry has grown to comprehend and deliver what hospitality is all about, ergo a spontaneous decision simply to get away can still be a pleasant road trip – just drive up there late Friday afternoon and return Sunday evening. Well, that’s what we recently did! We confined our trip to the southern Okanagan region visiting wineries and vineyards in Oliver, Osoyoos, Summerland and Penticton.

We may be familiar with the area but the wine industry’s rapid growth in recent years makes it difficult at times to keep up with the latest news and developments! Glad to notice recent changes are not only promising but have definitely raised the Valley’s overall profile as the food and wine destination.

Bravo to the pioneering effort of Summerhill Pyramid Estate Winery whose winery restaurant finally got the approval from the liquor distribution branch to serve not just their own wines but wines from other places; as well as spirits if customers fancy a cocktail. Other similar winery restaurants’ eager anticipation to be granted the same flexibility will likely happen soon. This certainly is a big step forward to show the Province’s liquor law is in alignment with times and doesn’t loiter in the dark ages any more.  Other than the regulation changes, we also saw the regions becoming much more user-friendly. Wine route signs are prominent so getting to destinations is a whisk. From local artisan bread, cheese and farm produce; casual picnic in the vineyard to gourmet fine-dining, the food scene is noticeable. Hotels and accommodations are readily available. People are friendly and willing to help and please. From the young server that knew exactly what to do upon approaching our table to the gas station attendant offering warm assistance; the overall experience was a charming one.

Upon arrival Friday evening we checked into the Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos. This modern lakefront hotel is both chic and quaint with apt amenities, not surprised at all to find a pair of washer and dryer in our suite! We then took a short drive to Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver just in time for a fantastic six-course wine-pairing dinner at their Miradoro Restaurant to wet our appetite for the next two days! The dinner featured two Gold Medal Plates champions ‘Marc & Marc’ showcasing their skills and collaborating with the restaurant resident chef Jeff to create a line-up of amazing plates paired with outstanding local wines. The welcoming drinks to pair with the canapés were the refreshing 2012 Moscato Frizzante from Orofino Vineyards and the never-disappointing 2005 Steller’s Jay from Sumac Ridge Winery. Next up were the 2012 Alibi, a Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon blend from Black Hills Estate Winery and the mood-setting 2012 Two Bench Rose from Tinhorn Creek Vineyards to go with local heirloom tomatoes. The beautifully crafted 2012 Old Vines Trebbiano from Hester Creek Estate Winery and the pleasing 2011 Pinot Noir from Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery were paired with the albacore tuna. Two seemingly contrasting wines: The 2010 Nk’Mip Cellars Chardonnay and the 2009 Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Pinot Noir were poured and both worked magically with the buttered-poached scallops and lobster. For the Angus beef dish, we had the very desirable 2009 Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2 Bench Red and the harmonizing 2010 Church & State Wines Coyote Bowl Petit Verdot Malbec. Before dessert came the aromatic 2011 St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery Gewurztraminer to go with local artisan cheeses. To round out the evening, we had the 2011 Inniskillin Okanagan Vineyards Riesling Icewine. We were having such good time we didn’t want to leave but after a few hours of driving and a stomach full of brilliantly matched food & wine, the soft down duvet and comfortable bedding at the Watermark Beach Resort was calling.

IMG_4706Miradoro dining roomAfter a restful sleep, we were ready for a full Saturday of wine tastings. A short drive to Black Hills Estate Winery up on the Black Sage bench in Oliver was the first stop. Established in 1996, this winery has 27 acres up on the Bench and has been producing some amazing grapes; thanks to the dry desert condition with warm days and cool nights. The strong breeze keeps the moisture in check, providing ideal growing condition.  Adjacent to the pool and patio area framing a nice view of the valley, the tasting room is set up to welcome both big and small groups. Black Hills has large followers and a growing list of wine club members. Exclusive wines like the 2011 Nota Bene can only be purchased through the wine club. A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, this Nota Bene was aged 80% in French and 20% in American oak. It’s a mellow fruit-forward wine full of blackberries, plum and a hint of sage on the nose with a toasty, lengthy finish; definitely a wine worth cellaring.  The flight of samplings included the 2011 Viognier, the 2011 Chardonnay, the 2011 Carmenere and the 2010 Syrah, chosen carefully to showcase the particular season’s harvest. IMG_4753


Hester Creek Estate Winery has gone through quite a transformation since 1968. Hard work and improvement paved every step of the way. Not only the wines are outstanding, the winery is a not-to-be-missed wine tour destination with lots of history! Featuring Mediterranean villa style guest houses, a fantastic Terrafina Restaurant on site and a tasting room offering small plates to go with the wines, a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen to conduct cooking classes and wine-paired events etc, the exterior and interior designs, the ambiance, the décor are all ravishing. Under the tutelage of winemaker Rob Summers, General Manager Mark Sheridan and Director of hospitality Roger Gillespie, the exploring and wine-tasting experience guarantee to be enjoyable – you can literally feel their passion; their pride and joy in being integral parts of the improvement process. Roger guided us through their wine portfolio. The Character Red and White are good value wines for all occasions. The line-up of whites  were the 2012 Pinot Gris, 2012 Pinot Blanc and the 2012 Chardonnay. For the reds, there were the 2011 Reserve Cabernet Franc, 2011 Reserve Merlot and the well-crafted 2010 Judge. From the oldest vines planted in the Golden Mile Bench, the Judge is a Bordeaux blend aged over 24 months in 75% in French oak and 25% American oak; fantastically laced with ripened berries, a soft plum aroma and a hint of spice. Bold and jammy, this wine finishes nicely with a bit of cocoa and toasted fragrant and is definitely a collector’s wine!IMG_4777 









After a delectable lunch at Terrafina, we headed north to Naramata just in time to catch the harvesting activities at Serendipity Winery. Converted from an orchard, this young winery established was in 2005 with 10 acre producing some promising fruits and the proprietor, Judy Kingston, a lawyer-turned winery operator who finds much joy in working with nature, is expecting a good harvest. Pickers from Quebec and the Atlantic provinces had been working hard in the vineyards since day break. Soon after, meal time was served and we sat down to join them for some team-bonding conversations and most rewardingly, wine tasting with Judy. Outside, winemaker Richard Kanawaza was busy working with other staff on the de-stemmer making sure the time frame from picking to de-stemming was as short as possible. We sampled the 2011 Rose, lively and fruit forward but not too sweet displaying generous Asian fruit aroma and a dry finish. The cutely-named White Lie blend has lots of pear, honeydew aroma with crisp and juicy ending note. The 2010 Devil’s Advocate is a red blend with bouquet of dark cherries and spices. The finish is soft with black fruits and a bit of vanilla and chocolate at the end. As we depart, truckloads of grapes on crates were coming in from neighbouring vineyards to bolster the production. What better way to witness a busy harvest in action when time is of essence!IMG_4810


Not too far away on Naramata Road in Penticton is Hillside Winery & Bistro. The winery was founded in the 1980’s also by converting an orchard to a vineyard. The objective all along is to craft wines in its natural state that best expresses what the vineyard has to offer. With meal time approaching, we decided to have the tasting in conjunction with our dinner at the Bistro which is tucked away at the garden-like back porch. The 2012 un-oaked Pinot Gris is refreshing and crisp with bright fruit character. A different style is the 2010 Pinot Gris Reserve that has a vivid bouquet of tropical fruits. The time spent in Hungarian oak barrel gives it the supple treatment and a smooth finish. The 2010 Old Vines Gamay Noir has lots of berry fruits in the bottle. Eight months in barrel adds nice texture but adequate acidity of the Gamay still retains. The 2010 Syrah is from the HiddenValley vineyards and is filled with berry aroma with a touch of clove and spices and enough tannin to offer a pleasant finish. Cabernet Franc is a varietal that flourishes in Okanagan and the Hillside Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc is consistent with that assertion. A medium-bodied wine with raspberry and red fruit aroma, it is velvety due to the well-integrated oak treatment. The finale is the Hillside Winery 2008 Mosaic crafted as a Bordeaux style blend with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot exhibit in harmony. It is luscious and silky on the palate with an elegant finish.


IMG_4826The stay at the Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa for the evening was greeted by an art show at the lobby displaying works from various local artists, a lovely way to end the day. Waved goodbye to the cool evening breeze, we relaxed in front of the fireplace to reminiscent the tasty events of the day. Accompanied by the morning sun the next morning, we enjoyed our breakfast in the balcony overlooking the glistering OkanaganLake. What a sight to behold and what a splendid start to another day!

We headed back to Naramata in Penticton to kick off our packed Sunday activities.  Perseus Winery on Lower Bench Road was the first on the itinerary. Built upon the hillside, the tasting room has a picturesque view of the OkanaganLake and the Penticton city proper. Greeted by Rob Ingram, the President of the parent company, Terrabella who is a chartered Accountant by trade and brings years of valuable experience in the management and financial fields to the Winery. It was refreshing to hear somebody from an entrepreneurial aspect balancing the passion from the wine side with the practicality and common sense of the business operations. IMG_4862

An array of whites and reds awaited us for tasting. The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc has rich aroma of honeydew and grapefruit. Lightly oaked, it is crisp and sprightly. To offer flexibility, there is the innovative 2012 Pinot Blanc 3 Litres ‘bag in a box’ that caters to special events and larger groups. With no spoilage and 6 weeks shelf life, it is a make-sense alternative to guarantee freshness of this Pinot Blanc which is loaded with peach and melon bouquet and a palate-pleasing finish.


The 2012 Gewurztraminer was harvested right from the Naramata Bench. It has lots of green apple and a floral aroma on the dry side which I quite enjoyed. The 2012 Viognier is from the dryer and warmer Similkameen region. Asian fruits aroma exhibiting fragrances of lychee and mandarin orange peel made this wine sensual and very appealing. On the reds, we sampled the 2011 Cabernet Franc, from the dryer Blind Creek also in the Similkameen, has tantalizing red fruit aroma. The light oak treatment balanced the acidity and tannins well. The 2010 Perseus Invictus, a blend of 56% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Malbec, is regarded as their flagship red.  On the palate, the luscious fruity and spicy hint linger along the beautifully-balanced tannin. With a silky structure, a complex aroma of dried figs, berries and subtle mint and smokiness, this crafted wine offers good potential; decant or cellar. The limited release 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, with 75% in French oak and 25% in American oak, is another solid and profound surprise. Flows of black current and preserved plum on the nose; dry cherries and berries to prelude the cocoa and tobacco finish, is no doubt a candidate for your private cellar.

Poplar Grove Winery is our next destination. High upon the hill of Naramata overlooking the breath-taking OkanaganLake, the contemporary building hosting an airy and open tasting area and a warm and welcoming restaurant the Vanilla Pod was built in 2011. Led by Ian Sutherland, owner and Executive Winemaker, we had a visual and descriptive tour of the gorgeous tasting room and the cellar room, while sipping the refreshing Rose refreshing our palate with gusto lime aroma. Transforming from an artisan winery in 1993 to the existing breathtaking 36,000 sq. ft. building operation, their wines have also come a long way to the current stellar status. Staying with the tradition of doing what they know best, they start with six core wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah and the Legacy blend on their over 110 acres estate vineyards. Besides this core wine group, other specific series are crafted for the restaurant and the wine club to showcase the skills of the winemaker and the philosophy of the winery. To pair with our lunch orders, we had the 2011 Pinot Gris. 100% stainless steel tank fermented, it is crisp and lively with grapefruit and star-fruit aroma. The limited production 2011 Chardonnay has a golden colour; thanks to 20% fermented in French oak which also provides the smoothness on the palate. On the nose is the enticing hints of Asian pear and pineapple. We couldn’t give up tasting the CSM, a well-balanced blend of Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot exclusively at the winery restaurant and wine club. We also tasted the 2009 Cabernet Franc with raspberry and caramelized onion on the nose; red currents on the palate with a balanced finish, a well-crafted wine that supports the winery’s focus of sticking to the core and doing the best with it.IMG_4876


Arriving at the other side of Penticton, we went into Painted Rock Estate Winery’s   immaculate architectural building with a stunning view enveloping from the east side to the equally beautiful SkahaLake. With 60 acres planted, the expansion plan on the horizon is to build a restaurant and maybe guest houses to go in next to the sleek and high-tech tasting room. Starting as an apricot orchard, the site was not converted until 2004 to the current vineyard with first planting in 2005. The topography of the slope and the wind from the mountain blowing down to the lake provide the ideal condition   preventing infestation and rotting. Planted mostly were Bordeaux varietals at the beginning and other varietals were introduced later. The 2012 Chardonnay has good flavour intensity and structure resulted from 50% in new French oak which also renders the golden colour, complimented by the stone fruit aroma and smooth mouth feel. The 2010 Merlot seduces with prunes and plum aroma. With 80% in new French oak, it has a toasty and cocoa note on the palate with soft tannins. The 2010 Syrah, benefited from 18 months in 60% new French oak and 40% new American oak, demonstrates well-balanced tannin and a hint of toffee and coffee beans on the nose. The award winning 2010 Red Icon blend infused with blackberries and dry cherries hints is ranked highly amongst the top. 18 months in 80% new French oak gave the wine the added structure lined with smoky and earthy mouth-feel.IMG_4898

IMG_4901The afternoon tour ended with a visit to the Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland.  My first visit to this facility, I can easily feel the energy and excitement in the air as workers were busy loading grapes into the de-stemmer. We were told they would be doing this throughout the night as new crews were coming in. Launched in 2010 by industry stalwart, Christine Coletta, it is a facility setup to provide custom- winemaking for others in the industry. However, with experienced winemaker, Michael Bartier and other renowned international experts providing advice and expertise on a regular basis, their own labels of Haywire and Bartier & Scholefield (B & S) wines are well received. Christine Coletta is evidently the pioneer in the BC wine industry who back at the hay days successfully helped position the VQA brand to its current status. Also a visionary and astute marketer with many years in the PR and Marketing sector for the industry, her recent induction into the BC Restaurant Association’s ‘Hall of Fame’ is an attestation. Outside in the vineyard, we couldn’t help but noticed each row of vine was marked with different names and soon found out they were the names of those who helped planted the vines. What a wonderful and thoughtful gesture to appreciate and recognize the hard-working folks; a good story to share with visitors for sure. IMG_4939

Under the watchful eyes of winemaker Michael Bartier and winery manager, Julian Scholefield, the winery is full of activity and excitements! The large concrete egg-shaped tanks to give the wines more depth and complexity are in full production mode. Thinking outside the box and addressing to the fine details are what this winery does approvingly. We sampled a number of wines and I must admit they were all impressive! The 2012 Haywire Gewurztraminer emits floral bouquet. The 2012 B & S Sauvignon Blanc caresses with baked apple and grapefruit aroma and balanced acidity. The 2012 B & S Semillon displays subtle minerality and oyster shell hints due to its rocky and stony soil profile in the Black Sage Bench. 3rd vintage 2011 Pinot Gris from Switchback Vineyard is brisk and fruit-forward. The refreshing 2011 Gamay Noir Rose has luring strawberry aroma and a light body with restrained acidity. The 2011 B & S Chardonnay carries the lightly oaked treatment nicely, 50% in new French oak and 50% in new American oak brings out the creaminess. The 2011 Haywire White label Pinot Noir has bright fruits and plum aroma. A good contrast is the 2011 Haywire Silver label Pinot Noir that has gone through some fermentation in those egg-shaped concrete tanks which fine-tuned and smoothed the wine structure. The 2011 B & S Merlot and Syrah are both fine products to express the terroir and the best of BC grapes. To round out the sampling, we had the 2011 B & S Goal as the finale. With a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, this is a nicely crafted wine with a silky, lengthy finish.IMG_4925We were happy to walk out of the place knowing we just had sampled some outstanding wines that represent the terroir and the meticulous efforts put into the vineyards and the winery. We got a lot out of this weekend; an awesome snapshot of what Okanagan wine tour is all about and how hard folks work behind the scene to make everything come together. If you go, it’s guaranteed you will have a good time exploring!

Okanagan’s world-class food and restaurant scene

Words & Pix: Stephanie Yuen

( )

No matter what the reason, every Okanagan visit proves to be a lovely break for me!

The most recent one took place this early Fall, when trees were at their ultimate forms of natural beauty; when orchards and vineyards were changing hues.  With many shades of red and gold adorning the highways and the random sun emitting warmth into the car, the 4-hour drive was a pleasant one.    

We chose this time to go simply because the vines and wineries at harvesting time were calling. Oliver, Summerland and Penticton were our destinations. While visiting wineries and tasting the wines were the main focus, we were both ready and excited to bite into the top-notched restaurants and food programs we heard so much about. The fact that the valley has always been the land of bounty, where orchards, farms and ranches flourish, the region’s developing into a sensational food and restaurant scene is a natural fit. From artisan cheese-makers to lamb-roasting dinner; music and wine to chefs’ wine-paired feasts, Okanagan is now poised as the haven for culinary tourism.

Our delicious journey began at Miradoro (Tinhorn Creek), where Executive Chef Jeff Van Geest (formerly of Aurora on Main & E. 8th), partnered with two Marcs of Gold Medal Plates fame.The two champs from Atelier in Ottawa and Auberge Du Pommier in Toronto brought along their magic wands and the three of them orchestrated an evening of palate supremacy, the ticket price of $155, along with a take-away gift bag of a bottle of Tinhorn Creek wine and other gadgets, was enchanting. Take a look at this lavishly presented plate of Scallop and Lobster poached in butter with the pickled garlic and miso sauce as the surprise flavour factors. 

#1 Miradoro


Breakfast next morning was a $12pp very generously-prepared and displayed continental buffet breakfast, beverages included, inside the modern, quaint and beautiful lakeside Watermark Beach Resort Hotel where we stayed the night. The word continental was an understatement, with hot eats such as eggs and bacon; cold treats such as smoked salmon and fresh fruits; oven-fresh baked goods including croissant, the value was exceptional. Full and happily contented, we began our packed program of the day.

The much anticipated lunch at Hester Creek’s Terrafina was as hearty and delightful as any family-style meal in Tuscany would be. The pan-fried Squids and Smoked Trout Sandwich were masterfully done. Unpretentious was the dining room and the ambiance, locally-sourced and tastefully-crafted were the seasonal menu items. We were told that Terrafina’s made-to-order pizza was ‘Okanagan famous’, no wonder we say quite a few of them on some of the tables.#3 Pan-fried squids

#4 Chef at TerrafinoTucked away in the lush green garden at the back of Hillside Winery’s tasting room, the country setting of Hillside Bistro was particularly warm and welcoming in the gloomy nightfall. Executive Chef Robert Gordonier may be young, but the flavour profile of the dishes we ordered that evening showed nothing short of innovative ideas and culinary senses. Infusing local recipes with Asian ingredients and seasonings is much more challenging than some might assume. The application of hoisin sauce in the braised beef shank was a real showcase of how it should be done. An extra thumbs up to Gordonier who gave the credit to his Chinese wife!#6 Hiiside-chef & his own sauces#5 Hillside - Braised beef shankBlessed with a majestic view, Vanilla Pod Restaurant at the very architectural building where Poplar Grove lies was the perfect lunch spot on a mild autumn day. The reflection of the sun upon the surrounding vineyards and river belt was as sumptuous as the meal. We opted for a couple of simple lunch items to share, but simplicity here referred only to the name of the dish, the presentation and the depth of each dish was astounding. The salad was a collection of the latest harvest of plump, juicy and colourful grape and cherry tomatoes from the garden; the artisan cheese in the ham & cheese sandwich established its own name and fame; but it’s the rice pudding that took my breath away! “Many locals come here just for this pudding!” said our waiter. The golden rice pudding, presented stylishly, was beyond my imagination. We did thank the waiter for insisting us to try!#8 yummy rice pudding