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Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Month: August 2019 Page 1 of 3

“Ready” at Tap & Barrel

 

Technology is all around us, making our lives easier, and our day to day mundane activities quicker. Case in point, there is a new way to pay coming to Vancouver’s restaurant scene. Today I was at “Tap & Barrel” to learn more about the new “Ready Split Check Function”, at this launch party with cocktails and canapés.

“Ready” is focusing on their expansion to Canada and the US with their phone friendly payment method. You view, split, and pay your check right on your phone. Available for the iPhone and Android. You simply open your camera app and focus on the “Ready” QR code and follow the prompts. With android you can also tap your NFC enabled phone to the table top sign to view your check, pay, and go.

Pictured in my photos is the demo version we got to try out, but they are now live!

A pop up appears on your screen inviting you to click and view your check. Your bill appears when you do, it itemizes your purchase. Here, you can tick off what you had, and/or pay only for what you want to. With this, there is a new way to fight for who is going to pay. You no longer have to search for your server or wait for them to deliver the bill, and then go back to get the machine you need to pay for it. This is especially helpful at the busier bar scenes that they are rolling this out at. Also great if small talk with your server as your pay, and decide what to tip them, gives you anxiety.

Not to mention the amount of time is saves both parties. Table turn time was reduced by 23 minutes with “Read”. You simply look for their signs and can complete the transaction using Apple Pay, Google Pay, and all major credit cards. They are rolling out this platform to various restaurants, hotels, and stadiums around town. And strategically placing themselves as a solution for the labour shortage in the hospitality industry.

While we learned and chit chat-ed we enjoyed beer, wines, and cocktails from behind the bar, and sampled small bites from the kitchen.

“The Hatch Left Bank Blanc” was a dry wine that quenched, with notes of citrus and stone fruits.

The “Raspberry crush” was a cocktail mix of disruption vodka, raspberries, soda, and lemonade. A refreshingly tasty, patio sipper.

Everyone helped themselves to the charcuterie board. A collection of hard cheeses, paired with salty cured meats, juicy tomatoes, and briny olives.

The “Green goddess hummus” was a vegetarian option. A perfectly pipped swirl of thick, green hummus made from garbanzo beans; served on toast topped with Micro greens. It was a little gritty and I wanted a more even hummus to toast-base ratio. Easy to eat like this, but probably better as a dip or spread to self regulate.

The shrimp and avocado on a crispy tortilla with pickled ginger was another easy snack. I would have liked the shrimp warm, instead of being served chill. And the guacamole less spicy and punchy, but overall more complimentary to the shrimp.

The beef slider was a classic with cheese, tomato, and lettuce on a sesame seed bun

And I would have liked a full serving of their crispy fried chicken, over a sweet and fluffy golden brown waffle. And when I come back for some, I can pay for it using “Ready”.

To learn more about the app visit their website here. https://readytopay.com/

TAP & BARREL
1 Athletes Way, Vancouver BC, V5Y 0B1
604-685-2223
tapandbarrel.com

Fu Fu Cafe

Fluffy soufflé pancakes are Vancouver’s newest food trend. And now you don’t have to travel all the way to Richmond for its eggy goodness. In this post, I got a sneak peek of “Fu Fu Cafe”, Vancouver’s first (and currently only) fluffy soufflé pancake destination.

With custom made furnishings and an interior that is French inspired, the cafe is worth visiting for the decor alone. Several shades of blue cover various walls, embellished with Art Deco lines and roaring 20’s-style lamps.

All picture ready and picture-esque right at the threshold. Like the neon lights spelling out their name and logo. And the dried baby’s breath sprigs, framing two seats by the door. It all made for a very compelling backdrop for a photo or two.

Given that they are still in their soft launch phase, the following may change, or the photos might not be as you may have them.

Their grand opening is on Saturday, September 7th and they have just the promotions to get you down for a visit. The first 50 customers get their “Fufu classic soufflé pancakes” for free. And every one else can enjoy them at 50% off, for the entire day. But be warn, space is limited and due to the intricacies of the product, be prepared to wait (they are also only serving the classic on that day). It takes approximately 15 minutes to make this specialty dessert from scratch. And the staff takes pride in making them perfectly, so the art of crafting them does takes time.

The classic is available one of two ways. Either as a stack of three soufflé pancakes with butter, maple syrup, and their name dusted in icing sugar. Or three layered across the plate with salted cheese, whipped cream, and icing sugar.

I was able to try the former. And there is something just so satisfying about watching a stack of these thick rounds jiggle as a tower. The soufflé pancakes are essentially the same across the 8 menu items, but with your choice of toppings to mix things up. In truth, I love the pancakes as they are, plain with no dressing; , so its nice to have the butter and the syrup on the side as an option. They are so silky and smooth, like eating congealed foam, in the best of ways. A texture so unique that you go back for spoon after spoon, sipping it like soup. If you have never tried it, you should, you won’t find anything else like it.

I would get the “matcha mochi souffe pancake” for all its fun sides to pick though. Two stacked soufflé pancakes with shiratamako mochi, house made matcha sauce, matcha whipped cream, white chocolate flakes, matcha powder, and a scoop of chocolate raspberry ice cream from “Rocky Point ice cream”. All the combined flavours of the matcha was rich and fully formed, but none of it took away from the light eggy custard-ness of the pancake. Although my favourite element to this plate was the perfectly chewy mochi balls. I would tell you to share the dessert, considering the portion size, but you’d want all 5 of the mochi balls all for yourself.

The one that sure to be a fan favourite is the “Tapioca pearl milk tea soufflé pancake”. So highly anticipated that they have already listed it as being in limited quantity, with a specific time frame of availability. Two stacked soufflé pancakes topped with an in-house made earl grey milk tea sauce, with plenty of tapioca pearls on the dessert, and additional pearls in a jug if you want a little extra, or that “pouring shot”.

That covered that menus staple, the following is one of their rotating flavours. Every week they will be offering 3 different flavours of soufflé pancakes, giving your reason to visit time and time again. Great idea honestly. Speaking of which, they have many more in the works, as they continue to churn out unique hits; luring foodies, like myself, in to try all their creative variations.

Creative concoctions like brunch time soufflé pancakes with smoked salmon and avocado, and one that mimics an egg Benedict with two poached eggs, bacon, and house made hollandaise. And soufflé pancake that have a flavour mixed into the batter like chocolate, of mango; and/or maybe even a savoury green onion soufflé pancake? I would expect nothing less from one of the geniuses behind “Mister” ice cream’s crazy flavours at the helm of this. Oh the possibilities are endless here, and I hope they take all of them in consideration!

But back to the soufflés at hand. Opening week they will have a Nutella and caramelized banana soufflé pancake, a tiramisu one with espresso sauce and mascarpone; and the following “lemon creme brûlée pancake.

Two stacked soufflé pancakes poured over with a house made lemon creme brûlée sauce, lemon yogurt ice cream, and seasonal fruits. And a sprinkle of sugar atop gets torched for that tell-a-tale creme brûlée crackle sensation. The citrus helps to break apart the otherwise decadent serving of cream and sugar. A unique interpretation to a classic recipe.

For those looking for variety, this cafe also serves up fresh baked goods, daily. Sweet morsels from the kitchen of pastry chef, Remi. (Also known for his delicious works, available at “Argo”, “Prototype”, and the “Paragon Tea Room”.) today we were able to try his hojicha cookie, espresso cheese tart, Japanese cheesecake, and matcha short bread. I liked them all and would travel for them, and to gift them. The cheesecake was a heavenly sponge. The two toned cookie gave me slightly bitter matcha partnered with buttery biscuit, for an excellent balance. And the cheese tart was creamy and flakey, and gently kissed with notes of coffee.

As for drinks, they serve coffee from “Argo” coffee roasters and are working on bubble tea in the future, an easy win considering that they already have half the ingredients.

In the meanwhile, you can and should try their fresh fruit sodas available in mixed berry, peach and lemon, passion fruit and pineapple, and grapefruit and orange.

I don’t like passion fruit normally, so was surprised by how much I liked it in the drink here. Passion fruit pulp and pineapple chunks mixed with a sparkling soda. Crisp and refreshing with the effervescent bubbles popping in your face, as you sip and chew through crunchy passion fruit seeds.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
“Fu Fu Cafe” serves as a great after dinner, dessert destination, for dategooers and diners alike. They are in a great location, with no other dessert options in the neighbourhood, let alone any deserts like it in this vicinity. And with plenty of things in the works, you will come once and be back again soon. Don’t deny your cravings.

FU FU CAFE
1266 West Broadway, Vancouver BC

Lake Country Wineries

My girl friend and I were in Vernon, enjoying the hospitality of “Sparkling Hill Resort”. And after a two day and two night stay, we were ready to head home to Vancouver. However our morning check out and evening flight meant we had some hours to kill in between.

We decided to use this time hitting up as many wineries in Lake Country as possible. First, the largest: “Gray Monk”, where we tasted and lunched. For the comprehensive review, visit the link below.

Gray Monk Winery

Now with only 3 hours left, we did a lightening round of tastings; attempting to stop at as many smaller wineries as possible, on our way to the airport.

We solicited the help of a cab driver, willing to chauffeur us to the wineries he knew, and keeping the meter running while we tasted at each one. The cost did rack up, but no more than what you would pay for one pass with any professional wine tour bus. Plus we didn’t have to share the space with anyone else, and were able to go at our own pace, and leave when we wanted to.

First was “Arrowleaf Winery”, where we were told their cream puffs were a must try. But unfortunately due to the influx of people trying to keep entertained on this rainy day, they soon sold out. In fact, their in winery cafe sold through of their entire showcase of baked goods. The owner has two daughters, both of which are pastry chefs, who bakes these desserts fresh daily.

As for the wine tasting, they aren’t a large winery, so you get a flight of 4 specific wines for $5, a fee waved if it leads to the purchase of a bottle. But sadly, we flew here with only carry on luggage, and were flying back with no way to bring a bottle of that much liquor with us.

The tasting began with their “2018 Pinot Gris”. A white with notes of ripe apple, pear, peach, and delicate floral aromas. It’s fermentation is done mostly in stainless steel tanks with added yeast. Although 10% of the wine is allowed to ferment in neutral barrels, with no yeast added. For their efforts, it won gold at the 2019 “National Wine awards of Canada”.

The “Field Collection 2018” is a blend of Germanic and Alsatian grapes that thrive in the cooler parts of the Okanagan. Floral freshness and lemony acidity is what you get here.

“Archive Pinot Noir 2016” is a full bodied red with dark cherry, raspberry, hints of spice, and rose petals. It is aged in French oak barrels for 12 months, resulting in an distinct oakiness. It is best paired with richer dishes.

The “Field Collection 2016” is a medium to full bodied red with dark cherry, plum, vanilla, and hints of black pepper and sage. It too is aged in barrels, but here, both American and French barrels; thus giving it a different oak finish.

With no food for purchasing, we only stayed a little while longer. We enjoyed a drink on their patio, overlooking their sloped vineyard. My girlfriend a glass of their Pinot Gris, and me a cup of tea to stay warm with.

Next, we stopped at “Ex Nihilo Winery”. They serve food under their covered area, but our limited time meant we couldn’t try any of it. It is a fairly large winery with various areas inside to sit and enjoy a glass of their wine, and the company of your loved ones.

“Ex Nihilo” means “out of nothing” in Latin. It is named after a famous sculpture. Here, tastings are $7 for five wines of your choice. The following is what we tried between us two.

The “2018 sX Imagine” is a refreshing processco fermented in stainless steel vats. It is fragranced with plenty of fruit flavours like lychee, melon, clementine, and lime.

The “2018 CHAOS Vampata” is their favourite rose. Its name means “blush” in Italian, a name given for its colour, earned through the leaving on of the skins for 16 hours. 100% pinot noir grape with flavours of ruby grapefruit, strawberry, citrus peel, and rose petals.

The “2017 Pants Down Riesling” is fun for its name that serves as an inside joke. In 2017 there was an early and sudden snow fall. Their grapes had not been picked yet, so they were left scrambling to collect the crop. The result, a white with more concentrated flavours of orange peel and floral, lemons and limes, and honeydew to finish.

The “2018 Pinot Gris” boasts the perfect balance of acidity and sweetness. D’anjou pear, green apple, and orange; wrapped around notes of ginger, and white nectarine.

The “2017 Privata Chardonnay” is exclusively from “Ex Nihilo’s” estate vineyard. It is described as having intense tropical flavours of pineapple and mango, complimented by a creaminess of butterscotch and honey.

The “2016 Merlot” contains grapes from “Black Sage Bench Vineyard” in Oliver. Aged in French and American oak barrels this wine is dark with fruit, reminding you of a Black Forest cake.

The “2016 Night” is their priciest bottle of their tasting menu, listed at $50. This is a Bordeaux style wine and their best selling red. It is balanced with aromas of blackberry and red plum; with notes of white pepper, all spice and chocolate on the tongue.

Winery number three was “Intrigue”, a smaller winery stocked well with plenty of white wine, due to their location well up North.

Here, tastings are $3 for 5. The best deal yet! And like with all the other wineries, it is waived if you purchase a bottle for them. Once again, we weren’t able to bring a bottle of wine back with us to Vancouver via plane. So we spent the money we saved from their inexpensive tasting on their giftshop. They boasted a great collection of wine themed odds and ends, including wine flavoured popcorn.

“Intrigue’s” tasting menu lists 7 whites, 3 reds, 1 rose, and 2 sparkling wines. But a chalk board at the back of their tasting bar mentions the only 5 that were actually available for trying today. No quirky names here, just the grapes that went into them.

The “Chardonnay” was lightly oaked with a nice minerality, and buttery fruit. Pineapple, peach, almond, and apricots. Crisp citrus and a touch of nutty caramel. Oddly enough, it smelled like durian to me, but in a good way.

The “Reisling” is their flagship varietal. It starts with aromas of nectarine and dried apricot; and finishes with high acidity in green apple and pineapple. So good that it was awarded double gold at the “Cascadia Wine Competition”.

The “Pinot Gris” comes with a little bit of colour, from 16 hours of skin contact. From it you get passion fruit, strawberry and lychee; for a clean finish. Its sweetness is best paired with seafood.

The “2018 Gewurztraminer” is fresh on the tasting block, having been opened and released a mere 1 hour before our arrival. It has a lower acidity, and is softer on palate with tropical notes. Lychee, nectarine, elderflower, orange, blossom, and soft white pepper. It is recommended as an accompaniment to spicy food like curry and/or chilli prawns. For me it was a little too sweet, giving me a soreness in the back of my throat.

The “Social Red” was the only red available today, and the lightest that they can make. Described as a sipping red; rich with vanilla, blackberry, and black cherry. Perfect with pizza or their charcuterie made with locally grown blackberry and sourdough. Shame, we were in a rush and couldn’t enjoy some of the latter.

 

Because it was on to the last winery. With 10 minutes before they closed, the staff out front were still encouraging us in.

Right across the street was “O’Rourke’s”. Where as “Intrigue” looked like a cozy chapel for intimate weddings, “O’Rourke’s” looked like an sterile government-run clinic. At the entrance your choice is left to the stainless steel vats and their fermentation operation, or right to their tasting room. With the latter a handsome wall greets you. Bottles against a stone wall, and more housed on shelves under it.

Across the way is their bar that mimicked a barrel with its oak and steel build, not to mention its round shape. $5 gave us a tasting of 4 out of their 10 wines made available. The following was what we choose based on how unique they read.

The “2017 Pinot Gris” is kept in French oak barrels for 3 months. It is easy to drink, beginning with citrus and pear, leading into apple and peach.

The “2018 Gruner Veltiner” was a new one for both of us. Only half of the wineries in the Okanagan produce it, making it pretty rare. If wine has volume, you can taste it here. Pineapple, thyme, and peach skin.

The “2018 Fielding Block” is a blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer. All the above juices intermingle during the fermentation process. It has notes of lime zest, Mandarin, green apple and pear. With a palate full of lemon, lime, peach, apricot, baking spice, and a hint of fresh ginger.

The “2018 Pinot Noir Rose” was fruit forward. Light and dry with lots of berry: strawberry, raspberry, and red liquorice. The palate is long and tasty with more strawberry, and raspberry; coupled with pomegranate and blood orange.

And with that last sip, our Lake County wine tasting, speed trial ended. Then it was a mad dash to the airport. Having drank around 2-3 glasses through tastings, we were ready for an easy 40 minute airplane ride home. Half the fun of the Okanagan is being able to visit all these wineries, learn where your wine comes from, and to taste as many as you want, to learn what you like. And as West Coast Canadians, we are so luckily to have it all here in our backyard, for an easy getaway.

Gray Monk Winery

We were in Vernon, enjoying a weekend at “Sparkling Hill”. Our check out was 11am, but our flight not until 7pm. So we filled our time with wineries, visiting as many as we could on our way to the airport. But sadly it was raining today so all the other tourists had the same idea, and we joined the roaming crowd.

Our first stop was “Grey Monk”, the largest of all the wineries in Lake Country. It was a beautiful property, two levels, with tall steeples and separated off sections. It gave you the impression of a monastery, befitting of their name.

We began with a wine tasting, 4 tastes for $5, a fee waved if you purchase a bottle of their wine. We flew and only had carry on luggage, so the option of taking any bottles back with us, was off the table. You had your choice between 4 of their whites, 1 rose, 3 reds, and 1 sparkling.

The following is what my girl friend and I tasted between us. They are most known for their Pinot Gris, as the first growers of it in Canada, back in 1972; so started with that. The winery would actually open 10 years later, in 1982.

The 2017 Gewürztraminer wasn’t as sweet as I expected.

The 2017 Rose was produced with a little pinot gris in it.

The 2016 Odyssey pinot noir was a medium red.

The 2015 Estate Cabernet Merlot contained a blend of cab sav and merlot together.

From there it was a stone’s throw to their gift shop. They had all sorts of knick knacks to tempt you with. The type you get at most wineries, like drinking accessories and glasses, plus plenty of fun souvenirs. We picked up a beaded bracelet of good intentions, a bag of merlot flavoured chips, and a couple of sun hats with wine related saying. I got “rose si vous plait” and my girl friend “Prosecco Princess”. And the latter two quickly became rain hats as we navigated the open property, to our next stop: their on property restaurant.

We were patience for a table by the rainy patio view. If you are going to dine in the Okanagan, you want to take in as much of the view as possible. But what we got was cloudy skies, faint mountains, and pools of rippling water. But I still preferred it over any table by the door.

Here, we enjoyed more wine in our cocktails. My guest had the “Grey Monk 75”. An Earl grey infused gin and their Odyssey Brut. I didn’t get any gin, it tasted more like a mimosa with enough orange flavouring that I asked if this was the right drink. It was.

I had the “Iced slush” in Riesling apricot, but it also comes in a rose berry. The former just seemed more unique. It was a tart slush, more juice than spirit. Sadly they only had a paper straw to drink with, so the slush wouldn’t travel up it, or got caught along the softened sides. I eventually gave up and finished the rest of my cocktail like a soup.

For a starter we had the “Crispy spiced calamari” with black garlic mayo, tzatziki cream, and a spicy pepper slaw. You could taste the quality in this, a good amount of breading to get the crunch, but not so much that you can’t taste the actual squid. I just wished that there was more of it. The dish was more dipping sauces than the squid you dip into it with. The slaw offered more substance and it balanced out the grease with its tangy flavour, and the red peppers packed more punch than I thought they would.

I had ordered the “Lake country mushrooms with local baby zucchini, soft poached egg, grassroot Gouda, shaved radish, and cured yolk”; expecting a sautéed mushroom medley. Instead what I got was a salad featuring mushrooms. I informed our server that I didn’t expect a salad and that the menu didn’t read like it would be. She told us that the dish has transitioned and that they just haven’t gotten around to correcting it on the menu. That in reality many of their customers asked for more greens with the dish, and here I was feeling like I got tricked into ordering an expensive salad. She offered to give me a bowl of mushrooms on the side, to which I declined. But did end up taking it to off the bill, due to my disappointment of it and my cocktail above. As for flavour, the greens were bitter, the mushrooms too salty, this seasoning would have been better served as a risotto. My girl friend ended up finishing this for me, as I enjoyed the entree below more.

“Sterling springs chicken paprikash” with fresh tagliatelle pasta, candied chillis, smoked mushrooms, cherry tomato, and sour cream. It was a comforting pasta dish. Familiar mild spices and seasonings, with the slippery texture of the cream over firm noodles. The tomatoes offered nice pops of freshness and I could have done without the dry chicken.

Having eaten our fill, and growing tired of the rain, we retreated into a cab to travel the rest of Lake Country one winery at a time.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A nice winery to visit when in Lake Country. A great view on a sunny day, decent food, plenty of drinks, and one of the best gift shops in the area to pick up souvenirs from. Don’t deny your cravings.

GRAY MONK
1055 Camp Rd, Lake Country, BC V4V 2H4
(250) 766-3168
graymonk.com

Sparkling Hill, restaurant & room service

We were at “Sparkling Hill” for the weekend. A girl’s getaway, arranged by my girl friend, in celebration of my birthday day.

For the review of our penthouse suite, the amenities that all guests can enjoy with an overnight stay, and all the spa treatments available, check out part one of my “Sparkling Hill” coverage in the link below.

Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa

This post will be focused solely on the food and dining options at the resort. For the vlog account of our trip, click the link below.

 

Visiting without a vehicle, we were left with the food options offered up by the resort. Breakfast for all guests is complimentary. An European style buffet available from 7am to 11am daily. You are seated by a host and servers offer your coffee and/or tea, but the food and drinks you help yourself too. Although you do get a bill at the end, itemizing what you had and how much you would have had to pay for it, if not made complementary to everyone; all so that you could tip the server accordingly.

Between the two days that we visited, the buffet varied little. Though with plenty of options to choose from, it will take a while to go through it all for longer stays. Platters of meats, cheeses, and pickled vegetables. Bowls of whole fruit piled high. Devilled eggs one day and hard boiled the next. Bread, bagels, and buns you toast and spread with jam, jellies, marmalade, and/or butter. Oatmeal kept warm in a pot, served with your choice of seasonings. Hot food included scrambled egg, breakfast sausage, and a curried potato. On our first day there was pork belly, which was an interesting choice. On the second day, an egg Benedict with ham and Hollandaise. For something sweet you can pick up a scone or a chocolate croissant, or maybe a mini loaf of muffin, these do vary day to day.

Your lunch options are either in room dining or a snack from the cafe “Barrique and Java”. The later included baked goods and desserts on displays. We only visited during happy hour for cheaper drinks and smaller shared bites. Each time avoiding the darkened alcove and trying to claim the tables that gave us the best view. The patio was ideal, however too warm during high noon.

On one visit it was 9oz wine for $10 and a charcuterie and cheese board. Peller Estates Sauvignon Blanc and Two Oceans pinot Grigio. Artisan cheese and meats with house made pickles, preserves, crackers and bread.

The next visit it was another $10 glass of wine for my girl friend and sparkling sangria for me. Well paired with crispy chips and dip. Hand cut Kennebec potatoes tossed with sea salt and toasted black pepper, served with lemon and confit garlic aioli.

Our girl’s weekend package that my girl friend signed up for gave us two complimentary cocktails here. So after happy hour time elapsed, we redeemed it in for two martinis. The “caramel apple martini” with its dusting of cinnamon reminded me of pie. Okanagan spirits vodka, butter ripple schnapps, apple sour puss, and apple juice. A dessert-like cocktail great for those who like their drinks a little sweet. The “Cassis royal” on the other hand was a lot more tart. Okanagan spirits blank current liqueur, Okanagan spirits vodka, cranberry juice, and pineapple juice.

And when that was done, to keep the party going we got a bottle of wine to share. The “Mission Hill” limited edition viognier. We didn’t end up finishing it, but were allowed to take what we couldn’t enjoy here back up to our hotel for later, glasses included.

For room service we ordered off of both their lunch and dinner menu. For the former it was two entrees, a cocktail, and bottle of sparkling. For the latter a sandwich, a pasta, a side of risotto and two bottles.

The “Pan fried hill farm chicken schnitzel” was delicious. A grown up chicken tender with parsley buttered potatoes, summer vegetables, lingonberry compote, and fresh lemon. You have a choice of their jager sauce or creamy mustard for $3 more. We got the former which offered a very mild mushroom based dipping sauce, with actual slices of mushrooms within.

The “Bison burger with Okanagan blueberries” was a hand formed bison burger with fresh thyme, confit garlic, Dijon mustard, Okanagan blueberry, aioli, arugula, black pepper caciotta cheese, crispy onions, and fresh tomato; all on a brioche bun. I found the patty over cooked and a little flat. It could have used some tang to brighten up the serving. I ended up adding more mayo and ketchup to it from the miniature bottles that were brought up as well. The side of fries on the other hand were nice, especially after drinking.

Their Caesar was a mix of tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, tobasco, and vodka; all in all pretty standard. Although with all the wine I have been having, I found it tasty and a nice change. But the bottle of “Prosecco gold Brut” got us right back on track.

For our late night dinner we had the “Beef dip sandwich” that came highly recommend by our hotel suite server. It was fatty meat and chewy bread, dipping into a fragrant gravy. To change the taste, the side of hand cut fries and roasted garlic aioli was a nice break.

Their risotto varies day to day, with the option to have it as an appetizer or entree serving size. This is the former, the chef’s daily seasonal inspired risotto, a chicken tinga with a tomato chipotle. It was comforting in its soften texture and familiar tomatoes base. The goat cheese and pickled onion offered some interest in taste, heightening the flavour of the rice in contrast.

The “Spicy prawn linguine aglio e olio” was a nice dish. A clean pasta prepared with sustainable farmed prawns, sautéed garlic, pepperoncini, rapini, grape tomatoes, Thai basil, and a lemon crumb. It was light and refreshing with the thick prawns and juicy tomatoes. The greens lent a wasabi-like flavour with garlic notes.

For a more traditional and formal dinner experience their main restaurant, (located in the same space as the buffet) is open nightly. Here, our girl’s weekend package also included a 3 course meal at “Peakfine” for both of us. Our choice from anything off the menu: appetizer, entree, and dessert.

With the live music and the roar of the fireplace, the atmosphere of the room shifted. From breakfast buffet in robes to dinner courses in heels. A formal dinner with white table cloths and cloth napkins, starting with complimentary bread and butter with herb and garlic.

I wish I liked the seared diver scallop with green pea purée, chilli, citrus, and hazelnuts; a little more. It was a sweet dish, whereas I wanted something more rich and salty, or at least salty and sweet to start. You don’t get much of the scallop flavour already, and I didn’t want to over whelm it with the more dominate pea purée. Not to mention the sharpness of the lemon and the crunchiness of the peanuts helped to mask things. I would have liked the scallops to shine through more with a lighter sauce, and to have the peas as more of a side.

The “Ahi tuna tartar with avocado mousse” was also a little strong. You expect and want a lighter dish, to be able to taste the fish, but once again the sauce masks it all. Especially the punchy lemon grass teriyaki; fully coating the fish and pickled ginger carrots, sesame cucumbers, and puffed Canadian wood rice. It was a nice enough dish, but it felt incomplete without a base, too saucy to not have something to scoop it up with, and help sop up some of that excess salty and sweet teriyaki.

For entrees I had their special of the day, a “9oz prime rib special” with mashed potatoes, beets, and lettuce. A classic meat and potatoes dish. A thinner, fattier cut with a minty accent from the greens, and a punch of tang from the horseradish. The potatoes were my favourite part of the dish, whipped smooth and absorbent of all that meaty jus that run off the slab of beef, over it. This was both comforting and filling.

My girl friend got the “Lamb backstrap and texture of carrots”. Aromatic lamb, burnt honey carrot purée, confit heirloom carrots, carrot sponge, and mint chimmichurri. You have to think about it to fully enjoy it, the creativity of presenting carrots three ways. It didn’t necessarily help to highlight the lamb. And although interesting, I would have preferred more complimentary sides to my main protein.

There was a lot going on with the plate, so I was surprised to see her add a lobster tail to it. It came as a side with butter you pour over, naturally sweet with a little bit of salt. The tail was a little on the smaller side, but still delicious, despite it being tough.

At this point we were full and couldn’t finish our entrees. However our package included dessert, so we got it go. Wrapped in Saran for us to enjoy as an indulgent breakfast, the day after.

The “Cheese board” was a selection of artisan cheeses, served with house made pickles, preserves and crackers. Who doesn’t like cheese and crackers; and this platter offers a variety of both. Crispy and chewy paired with sweet and sour elements, a choose your own adventure in eating to cater to your tastes. Champagne cheddar, a truffle cheese, and blue cheese.

The “Chocolate board” was a selection of house made, hand dipped chocolate truffles that are seasonally inspired. This too was fun to pick at. A hands on experience between the chocolate crumbs, the fresh fruit, and the dollop of gelee. There was also a macaron and a square of gummy, along with a piece of chocolate that had the bubbly texture of an areo bar. And amongst all of that were 4 house made chocolate truffles. One was a white chocolate raspberry, another white chocolate with a cocoa filling, there was a dark chocolate cherry, and a milk chocolate with chocolate mousse filling.

This would be the last meal we had in our dreamy weekend penthouse, and thus ends our “Sparkling Hill adventure. We followed this up with a handful of winery tours, those posts to come.

SPARKLING HILL
888 Sparkling Pl, Vernon, BC V1H 2K7
+1 877-275-1556
sparklinghill.com

Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa

My girlfriend and I have been trying to top each other for our birthdays, for years now. And this year she raised the bar again with a weekend getaway to Vernon’s “Sparkling Hill”.

Naturally we were planning on drinking, so decided to bypass the 4 hour car ride and take a plane instead. 30 minutes on the plane waiting and another 30 actually flying over the mountains, brought us to Kelowna; and the down side to our flight plan. The $90 cab ride from airport to resort.

Worth noting is, if we did drive, valet parking is complimentary, one car per room. And $20 a night for anything additional. The resort also offers complimentary shuttle rides from the resort to “Predator Ridge” and its golf course.

”Sparkling Hill” serves as an escape for wellness and relaxation, but is better known for its Swarovski crystal elements. Crystals that adorn the back of chairs and the banisters to the stairs. Sparkling detail on the mirrors, and built into the art work and lighting fixtures. Eye catching crystals in every corner. But my favourite ones were the one used in the men and women’s washroom signs, what a way to upgrade and every day experience.

For a more visual account of this trip, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

Given that the resort is in the middle of no where, we spent all our time within it. Luckily my girlfriend got us the “Edelweiss Penthouse” suite. This corner suite on the 2nd floor (out of 3) gave us ample sprawling room.

A living area with couch and recliners, facing a flat screen television. A table for dining on and a full sized refrigerator, you don’t really use due to the fact that groceries are far away and there is no kitchen to cook any of it in. Nor is there a microwave to help heat up any of our leftovers. So it simply kept our bottles of wine cool.

Around the corner is the first of two washrooms. A closeted space with a simple toilet, facing a mirrored encrusted with a wave of Swarovski crystals.

On the other wing of this expansive suite was the bed room and full washroom. The former had a king size bed facing a secondary flat screen and fireplace. Adjacent to it was a floor to ceiling window and a cow hide lounger facing the view.

The washroom was the most impressive of the accommodation with several ways to keep keep yourself clean. A dual head shower with 2 facets, a free standing tub, and two sinks. Perfect for couples who want to do things together, but not have to wait for their turn with the hot or running water.

Here, the secondary toilet was a special one: heated and with a built in bidget. You can choose the force and the direction in which the stream shoots at your parts. You can then follow up your cleaning with some in-toilet drying, as a gust of heated air blows everything dry.

And for even more luxury, we had our own private, wood furnished, sauna with heated coals. Allowing us to enjoy our own sauna, instead of the similar one down at the spa.

Each “Sparkling Hills” stay includes access to “Kuspa” and many of its amenities, with many more services you can add on.

The spa has a no cellphone policy. This is to ensure that all guests have their privacy, and that you as a guest can disconnect. However so many disregard this. During my time at the spa I heard the ding-ing of phone messages, and saw groups of girls taking photos amongst everyone else in the pool. And only after I saw this, and noted all the photos of the spa being geotagged on Instagram, that I dared to take my own. However, I made sure no one was in the vicinity, coming early and avoiding the crowds, and that we didn’t disrupt anyone in doing so.

We ventured into the sauna well before it opened for the day. Before majority of the guests woke up and before the steam was turned on. There are seven aromatherapy steam rooms and saunas built around the European spa philosophy. Where the cycle of healing and holistic rejuvenation is one of heat, cold, rest, and invigorating repetition. You can move through the different saunas and steam rooms by alternating between hot, cold and rest with rehydration to receive the maximum health benefits. Each room had a plaque telling you how long you should stay inside it and if it is best done with or without a towel.

The Aqua Meditation steam room is the first, it has the sound of water gently dripping into a Swarovski Crystal basin. You listen to the drips as you lounge on cushioned seats. Gentle calming music plays in the background, and you breathe in the scent of orange. It is suggested that you start here with some meditation before or after your steam or sauna.

The steam rooms are basically arranged in the order of which you would want to visit them. They transition from warm to hot, varying by 2 degrees between rooms. The second door is the Rose Steam Room set at 38°C. As you can guess, it is fragranced with the sweet scent of rose, and decorated with pink lights and single rose pedals in a frame.

Where the first two rooms were blue and pink, the Salt Steam room is red. It is set at 40°C and plenty of Himalayan salt. Brine-infused water droplets fill the air, simulating a natural salt cave. It is believed that being in this salt here will “enhance concentration, stop aging, and smooth wrinkles”.

I liked the “bling bling” look of the Crystal Steam room set at 42°C. Here, “Swarovski crystal elements and mirrors create an illusion of infinite time and space; as eucalyptus aromatics energize and uplift”.

The 60°C Herbal Sauna utilizes “traditional beams of imported European wood combined with pine aromatics, to help creation the sensation of being in the great outdoors”. An iron basket filled with stones is heated and maneuvered into a copper basin of water, this creates steam. “The resulting humidity and heat promotes the cleansing of lungs, and provides a surge of moisture for your skin”.

The Panorama Sauna is 80°C offering a panoramic windowed view of green forested hills and the blue lake of the Okanagan. The dry heat calms the body, helping to release tension and stimulates the glandular system.

The Finnish sauna is also known as the classic one, set at 10 degrees more that the last. This style is true to the European spa tradition with walls and benches of gently polished wood. With high temperature and a low 10% humidity, this room is ideal for cleansing your skin and lungs. Most memorable is its hand painted art inspired by Michelangelo.

I really liked the 10°C Igloo. It had the sound of crackling ice and the scents of peppermint and eucalyptus, meant to invigorate. This room is recommended after a sauna or steam, to reduce your body temperature. Here, the floor is glazed with Swarovski crystal lacquer, the silver tiles on either end are chilled with ice. And at thecentre is a fountain that releases crushed ice into a basin. You are meant to rub the ice onto your skin, as an way to stimulate circulation.

The “Experience Showers” come with a array of water falling options, with multiple shower heads to help stimulate the skin from many angles. Some of these showers have options like: “tropical and thunder rain, spray and side massage, side and overhead shower, colour changing lights; and fragranced scents like eucalyptus or orange and mandarin.

We would spend most of our time at the pool. The one that most take a photo in and in-front is the “Outdoor Infinity Pool”. A cool body of water with a panoramic view of Lake Okanagan and the surrounding vistas. Rain or shine visitors can enjoy this tranquil oasis.

For those who like a roof over them, there is a “Indoor Serenity Pool”. Unique with the soft underwater music and Swarovski crystals glittering above as you swim through the warm clear water, treated with salt.

The “Indoor Hot Pool” is adjacent. Your typical hot tub outfitted with bubbling jets.

The “Kneipp Hydrotherapy” is in the space adjacent. It is a shallow maze of water that you walk through. This stepping causes the blood vessels to expand and contract, it stimulates and invigorates the circulatory and lymphatic systems, it helps to relax the nervous system, reduce swelling, increases the body’s defence against varicose veins, and relaxes aching muscles.

At the other wing of the spa is the Fitness Studio. A gym equipped with the newest and most advanced Keiser fitness equipment, using air pressure to increase and decrease resistance.

Their “Movement Studio” hosts a couple of complimentary classes a day, including yoga and stretching classes.

The “Tea Room” offers caffeine-free herbal teas, best enjoyed on one of their loungers, looking out at their Okanagan view.

And for a more calming environment and one to nap in, try the “Serenity Relaxation Room”. A quiet, space to relax in, after or in-between treatments. Here more loungers, with a few behind stringed fringe, looking at the Monashee Mountains and Lake Okanagan.

Other wellness experiences that come at an additional cost include various massages, reiki (the energy technique using light touch), reflexology, customizable facials, body wraps, exfoliating scrubs, and their famous cryo cold chamber treats. The latter is an anti-inflammatory treatment that introduces cold temperatures as low as -110 degrees.

We paid extra to enjoy their “mud and muscle” treatment in their “Fango” section. “Fango” is the Italian word for mud. Pure volcanic dust and water are blended into a warm, buttery composition. It is spread over the skin to help detoxify and reinvigorate muscles. I thought we would be slathered in this mud, but only your backs were coated. Its warmth engulfs you from neck to tail bone, as you are wrapped in plastic and cloth. This allows your skin to absorb the minerals. You sit and relax as you are given either a foot or scalp massage, or both.

And after 30 minutes of stewing you are invited to wash the mud off in the in-suite shower. I felt the warm of the mud, but didn’t get the promise of soothing heat. Once washed and dried we were giving a more traditional massage. One that we customized with a focused on our most troublesome areas. The heat from the mud is meant to penetrate deep into the muscle, preparing your body for the best massage result. A unique experience, but I don’t know if the mud really added anything.

Our time at the spa was limited. We would dip into and take minimum advantage of the above throughout our stay. Because truth be told, if you are paying for a penthouse, you are going to enjoy that space a lot more. Plus, we were more keen on treating the resort itself as a getaway. In fact my my girlfriend booked us the girl’s weekend package. It included a “Sparkling Hills” branded tote bag and water bottle. Gifts placed on our bed, along with our robe, slippers, and towel for the spa. They also placed a couple of chocolates and a card acknowledging my birthday, upon her request.

This package also came with two complimentary drinks at their cafe/bar: “Barrique & Java Dining; and a 3 course dinner for two at the only restaurant, “PeakFine”. The latter also served as the space for the complimentary breakfast buffet, available to all resort guests.

For more about all the food and drink we had, click the link for part 2 of our time at “Sparkling Hill”.

Sparkling Hill, restaurant & room service

 

SPARKLING HILL
888 Sparkling Pl, Vernon, BC V1H 2K7
+1 877-275-1556
sparklinghill.com

The Fair at the PNE 2019, food edition

The most anticipated two weeks of the season is finally here, The Fair at the PNE is open and running daily. And as always, it is serving up live entertainment, one of kind exhibits, a fully stocked marketplace, and of course plenty of new and interesting carnival eats. And in this post, I was invited down bright and early to check out the latter. So here is what is new and noteworthy, and what you can expect at this year’s Fair, for food.

For the more visual review, click the link below for my latest video, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

Our morning started out at the “Elotes and Totchos” where we had the perfect breakfast dish. Tater tots dressed like nachos in three different flavours. This is the “carnitas” with saucy pulled pork, onion, tomato, cilantro, and chipotle mayo. It tasted exactly as you expect it to: delicious! Crispy potato nuggets, juicy salsa, and luscious cream.

At the new “Revel District”, in the “Mexican zone” is the “Cerveza Bar” where you can get Mexican beers and fun cocktails. The former also included a limited edition release beer by local Vancouver brewery, “Parallel 49”. In honour of The Fair the brewmasters at “Parallel 49”, have created an easy drinking Mexican style beer. Made with GMO-free corn, a Mexican yeast, and a lower alcohol content. It fits the booth they are available at, and offers Fair goers and easy drinking beer. It is only available at their taproom and at the PNE, for the duration of The Fair.

If you are looking for a cocktail, they have one that is both tasty and fun. The “Tipsy unicorn” is glittery liquer flavoured in either an orange mango or blue raspberry. Each is mixed with vodka, and served with a billowing trail of smoke. This head turner drinks like juice.

At “Corn Dog King” they were playing off the popularity of ramen, by coating their dogs on a stick with it. Pork hot dogs, wrapped in cheese, dipped in a cakey batter, rolled in crushed up raw ramen noodles; and then deep fried for a salty, sweet, and crunchy treat. I was surprised by how much I liked this! This one is worth trying, the ramen adds something to it, besides calories.

“Rick’s Pizza” sells pizza by the slice, and this year they have more than just pepperoni and cheese. This is the “dill pickle pizza”, a thin crust with white cheese, plenty of tangy pickle slices, and a heavy dusting of dill. You must like pickles to enjoy this one. There is no masking itss distinct taste and no way to avoid it. This would be great with some beer and/or as a side to some barbecue.

At “Tin Lizzy Concessions” they are offering Fair goers “deep fried chicken skin”. Described as the best part of the chicken, coated and deep fried in an airy and crunchy crust. It was tasty, but a little too greasy and ashy for my tastes. I missed the juiciness that you get from fried chicken, after you have eaten the skin.

At “Jimmy’s Lunch” they were celebrating 90 years at The Fair, across 4 generations. Here we had their grilled onion beef burger with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and their ketchup relish. So simple, yet so good. If you are looking for something more filling, this is what I would recommend. Not to mention they have plenty of covered seated to shield you from either the sun or the rain.

At “Freakk Fries” you can enjoy the longest fries in North America. To date, they are  the only place to get fries that are almost 5x longer than your regular sticks. Each order of crispy footlong fries is available in one of six different dressings and/or seasonings.

The garlic Parmesan is their most popular.

Chipotle mayo gives you double the spice with heat in the drizzle, and a shake or two of chilli flakes.

And the ranch bacon reminded me of eating a baked potato, but more travel-ready. They also have butter chicken, sour cream and cheese; and chocolate drizzled fries, for those with a sweet tooth.

At the “Rice burger” truck we enjoyed Japanese flavours sandwiched between two “buns” made from pressed and grilled white rice. It was basically a more portable way to enjoy “chicken katsu” and/or “beef yakiniku” over rice. The latter was easier to eat, but left me wanting more sauce, and a crunchy element like fried onions to give it some texture.

I preferred the flavour of the chicken rice burger with crispy fried chicken and tangy mayo, but it required you unhinging your jaw, in order to get the perfect full bite.

For even more pickles we headed to the “A Sweet Mind Candy Co.” booth to try their newest cotton candy flavour: pickles. A green tuft of fluff that smelled like pickles, but didn’t quite deliver on the punch of tangy, sour pickles. Great for those who actually don’t like pickles, you can enjoy its faint essence.

At the soft serve hut they were doling out butterbeer flavoured ice cream. I splurged and ordered it with smoke for whimsy, but was still disappointed by its presentation. I expected better branding, a cup more aligned with the “Harry Potter” franchise (where the flavour originated from). Or at least something similar to the photo on the booth itself. Though just as well, as I didn’t get to enjoy most of it. The clerk struggled to complete the dessert, flighting against how quickly it melted. It was messy well before it got to me, and as a result I wasn’t able to finish it. I don’t like trying to catch up to melting ice cream; most of it ended up over my hand. As for the flavours, it was like a watered down butterscotch, and the green wafer roll was coconut pandan; great on its own, but not complimentary to the soft serve.

In short, there are plenty of reasons to visit The Fair, and plenty to see and eat to keep you there the whole day. Come once a year, if not a handful during their very limited, two week run. Don’t deny your cravings.

PNE, THE FAIR
2901 East Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V5K 5J1
604-251-7717
pne.ca

Saku Broadway

Today we were at “Saku”, my girl friend has been wanting to check out their Japanese pork cutlets for a while now, as they are the only place in Vancouver that specializes in them. The Robson location also serves ramen, but today we were at their newest shop on Broadway.

Luckily she came early enough to beat the dinner time crowd, and the need to write your name on a wait list. The restaurant is pretty simple, high stools along a curved bar, more by the window out front. Tables against a booth and a couple of round surfaces for larger parties. All in all pretty minimalistic. We got one of the two tops available. Each table is set with a tray of condiments. Before we ate, our server asked if we have dined with them before. Given that the answer was “no”, she walked us through each one of the sauces. The sesame dressing is for the salad, the seeds for any thing you like, the tonkatsu sauce is in addition to what you are given with your entree, and lemon salt to use as a tangy seasoning.

Their menu is a beautiful representation of their food. The first page greets you with the sourcing of their ingredients. Pork bred to Japanese specs, raised here in Canada. The finest cuts with the perfect amount of marbling and fat. Their panko is Japanese style bread crumb, baked fresh every morning. It is prepared by a local bakery, from a specialized recipe, that ensures the panko doesn’t absorb too much oil. (I can certainly vouch for this to be true). And their tonkatsu sauce is made using fresh fruits and vegetables with the addition of premium white sesame to enhance it.

The rest of the menu is categorized by type of protein: pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetables, each getting a coating of panko. They also had a specials list. I was interested in the potato croquettes on it, but by 6:30pm they had already run out for the day.

Instead I had the “Ebi hotate curry”. Deep fried and breaded jumbo size prawns and scallops, served with their signature curry. I was amazed by how large the pieces of seafood were. With two of each, there were more of them than rice or curry. Here, I am not complaining, just noting the rarity of such a thing. This was plenty of food, including 4 sides. Well worth the $19 cost, given how tasty it all was. Certainly one of the crispiest panko breaded items I have ever enjoyed, and all without the grease. You were still able to taste the natural flavours of the seafood. The curry was scrumptious, rich and savoury ending in some sweetness. Served in a gravy boat for you to dip into or pour over your rice, as you like.

As for the sides, the miso soup was given a unique twist with the inclusion of boiled onions to chew through. It offered a French onion soup quality to it, and the onions ate like strands of cooked melon.

I was surprised by how much I liked the salad. It is a bottomless serving. Servers roamed between the tables, offering up an additional tong-fulls of shredded lettuce from their giant metal bowls. But it was the sesame sauce that made me go back for more. It had a great flavour, furthered by a couple of shakes from the sesame grinder.

And lastly, the small dish of rainbow pickles offered a change in taste through a variety of tastes and varying tartness. Altogether a great meal, I just wish they had tea to pair with it instead of soda or juice (which they too ran out of by 6:30pm). Or some dessert to end on.

My guest got their “Cheese katsu”. It is deep fried, breaded mozzarella wrapped with thinly sliced pork loin. You get more cheese than any of the pork flavour. Like my entree above, she too got pickles, rice, miso, and salad. But to it added a side of seasonal vegetables.

Three pieces of deep fried and breaded seasonable vegetable for $3.50, which turned out to be 2 slices of yam and one of pumpkin. Much like tempura but extra crispy-crunchy.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
If frying things can taste healthy, this is it. And if you are craving authentic Japanese style tonkatsu, it is here. Don’t deny your cravings.

SAKU BROADWAY
548 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1E9
(778) 379-5872
sakuvancouver.com

Weekend Tea

A new tea and juice shop has opened up on Kingsway, another beverage solution to help keep you cool this summer. Located by Metrotown, you might miss their shop if you don’t know what you are looking for. An all glass exterior with the word “weekend” running across the top, reminding you of what you are waiting for.

Inside, is an oasis with faux greens grafted on to the wall. They hung and dangled, surrounding their logo for the perfect backdrop. Before it, several chairs and small tables are available for seating.

You order at the counter, reading off the straightforward menu behind it. For those who order visually, they also have photos of drinks and their names on surrounding their till.

The following are what we tried, based on the clerk’s suggestions. Their specialty is their fruit based teas so we were sure to try the “Lychee Tea”, that came highly recommend. Plus, it isn’t often that you come across lychee juice on a menu, even if it is blended with tea. There are bits of lychee and jelly within, offering plenty to to chew through. It was not too sweet, serving as a great thirst quencher.

Another one of their specialties is their yogurt drink. We tried both the “Honeydew yogurt” and “Grape yogurt”. You definitely want to mix this one up so you get an even blend of the slush and yogurt, with jelly bits in each sip. The fruit flavours come through and you get a bit of creaminess to it from the dairy.

The “Zang mango” is mango jam, mango chunks, fresh milk, and cheese foam. Another one you mix up, in order to get the intended flavour. Sweet fruit and salty cheese works in this drinkable dessert.

And I got the “Zang pearl milk”, their take on the popular brown sugar trend that doubles the calories and sugar of the drink. Great the first few sips, but it is a flavour that wares out quick.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A solid option for drinks and a place to chat at in the area.
Don’t deny your cravings.

WEEKEND TEA
#101-5021, Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 4A5
(604) 620-1315
weekendtea.com

Dîner en Blanc 2019: George Wainborn Park

“The Social Concierge” brings Vancouver another year of Dîner en Blanc, summer’s most photogenic event. Once a year, attendees dawn their brightest whites, and gather at a secret location; to celebrate the height of summer, with a picnic in the park. Add in roaming actors, live performances, visual displays, and strategic photo ops; and you have the makings of another successful Dîner en Blanc!

This year the converging point was George Wainborn Park, downtown Vancouver. The location isn’t disclosed until 2 hours before the actual event. Where then, all participants converge with their all white regalia to set up for dinner. White tables, white chairs, white plates, and white napkins are a must.

But first, we were at the VIP pre-Dîner en Blanc party and reception, hosted by “M8”. I arrived a little too late to nosh on the charcuterie, and the small bites from the kitchen that rotated around. From what I heard this included the popular “M8” pork belly and their salted egg yolk deep fried chicken skin.

Thankfully, we were in time for the drinks. Wine and beer for purchase at the bar.

And a complimentary welcome cocktail that gave you the opportunity to customize it. Your choice of spirits mixed with fruit juice and flavoured Red Bull, then finish off with help your self toppings at their fruit and candy bar.

There was also “Strongbow” apple cider offered by the can, on the patio.

Then 15 minutes to 6pm, off we walked to the event site, joining others checking in as a sea of white. As guests set up their tables, live music played on the centre stage to set the jovial mood.

Once seated, all guests wave their white napkins in the air, to signal the beginning of the dinner.

We found a high top table in the media lounge, right by the open bar pouring sparkling wine, white, and red.

And we feasted from the self serve buffet present by “Hawksworth Catering”. Bread and dips; antipasti with artichokes, olives, tomatoes, and grilled vegetables; and crudités with dip.

My favourites were the finger sandwiches, a spicy chicken with scallions and crunchy vegetables; and a house smoked salmon with pickles, dill, and cream cheese.

And for dessert we enjoyed fresh fruits and a basket of chewy chocolatey cookies.

After eating and drinking their fill, guests are invited to explore the dinner grounds. Where various photogenic moments and points of interest are set up. There were white park benches and white recliners.

Hammocks for sitting on and others to lounge across.

“Fleurs De Villes” was on site, with their stunningly detailed, beautiful done, floral displays. White blossom encrusted chandeliers and lanterns hanging from trees.

And their trademark mannequins dressed in white and green plant material. Fashion forward looks with petals, stems and leaves. One wore a couture gown with aloe branches and orchids.

Another in white blossoms walked her ruffled petal dog, to match. And the last was sitting on a boat in the park’s water feature, shaded from by her daisy umbrella.

Nearby “Clarins” was on location, giving out skin care samples.

Then when the sun began to set, and the lights came on, the mood and ambience shifted with it. The DJ began turning his tables and the crowd filtered on to the grassy dance floor. Top 40 and hip hop paired with giant spot lights and the glow of purple neon.

And then the event highlight, the one that everyone looks forward to and closes out the night: the sparkler moment. Sparklers are passes out, everyone gets their own to wave about and add to the sea of twinkles.

When the trumpet call sounds, it is the end of the evening, and guests begin packing up. A collective clean-up effort has it so that the site is as neat as it originally was, prior to the event’s start.

And thus ends another successful Dîner en Blanc. This is my third year in attendance and each year I find they get better and better, and I become more and more amazed at how elaborate it is. Be sure you don’t miss out on the next one by checking out the links below.

DINNER EN BLANC
https://vancouver.dinerenblanc.com
Twitter: @dinerenblancvan
Instagram: @dinerenblanc.van
Facebook: /DinerenBlanc.Vancouver
#dinerenblanc #DEBVan #DEBVancouver2019

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