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Month: August 2019 Page 1 of 2

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

PNE Pre-Fair Press Conference & Preview 2019

Today I was invited down to the PNE, 2 days before The Fair’s opening season. I was here for a sneak peak of what guests can expect from this year’s run from August 17th to September 2nd, 2019.

Along with traditional media, I joined a tour around the fair grounds. The following is what is new and noteworthy, so that you can better plan your upcoming visit.

We started with a Press Conference announcing all the shows and exhibits for the 109th year. PNE’s The Fair continues to serve as an affordable and fun family event, for all ages and all interests. An occasion that brings everyone in the city out, and a way to welcome visitors from out of town. This year there will be hundreds of shows, performances, and exhibits throughout the 2 weeks. An estimated 700,000 individuals will walk through the front gate, as the largest ticketed event in BC.

New is “Revel District”, an outdoor area with a “Western zone” that includes beer booths, barbecue, and a bucking mechanical bull. As well as a “Mexican zone” with tacos and margaritas. Daily, its stage will host comedians, a strong-woman performance, and a nightly drag show.

Sure to be The Fair’s most well received exhibit, is “Snap Happy”. This gives event goers the ability to capture the perfect memory with stationary photo ops. More on that below.

At the Garden Auditorium guest’s can walk through the evolution of gaming with a self guided museum-esque tour.

Historically renown hypnotist Reeven comes back to The Fair, with the next generation. Son taking over for father: Reveen the impossiblist 2.0. People from the audience volunteer to become stars on stage. They are hypnotized into carrying out crazy actions, thus giving the crowd watching, the “World’s most funniest and most amazing stage show”. A must see!

Each night ends with “Electric Fire”. The closing show that sends rockets and fire into the dark sky, and coupling it with great music.

And speaking of great music the Summer concert series at the Chevrolet stage is taking you back to the 90’s with the likes of the Beach Boys, 98degrees, TLC, Vanilla Ice, and MC Hammer hosting his own house party.

Fan favourite shows like the Super Dogs, Knights of Valour, and Duelling Pianos return. And families can once again grab a seat in the park and watch a family friendly movies together.

There will now be tractor races for the kids at the agriculture and all the baby animals to pet and coo at will be back.

And of course, the prize home lottery returns, celebrating its 85th year. All this and more, all free with admission.

And for those looking to save further The Fair is made more accessible with various ticket promotions. Downloading the new PNE phone app get you in for only $2 on opening weekend, this Saturday August 17th and Sunday August 18th. Tuesday August 20th and 27th offers free admission for those visiting between 11-1pm. Thursday August 22nd is free admission for seniors. And on both Fridays August 23 and 30th, if you visit using translink, show your compass card at the gate and get two for one fair admission.

After the press conference, we were given a go of the “Snap Happy” exhibit before the crowds converged and there is a need to wait in queue for your unobstructed photo. They suggest taking many selfies here, however majority of the props do require a photographer. Like the pinwheel garden right as you enter.

Or if you want to ride the individual merry-go-round horse or hop into the single bumper car.

You can straddle a pink polka dot cow, or channel your inner super dog with this kennel with hydrant. Or maybe pop your head in to a game of whack a mole, which includes paddle. Or dawn a feather boa and strap on a guitar, and pretend you are head lining your own concert.

A 2D black and white roller coaster gives you the photo image, without the fear.

The wall of stuff animals explained what they did to the ones that the children don’t win.

The wall of colour changing sequins allowed you to customize your backdrop. But I preferred the wall of tinsel that gave you a rainbow sparkle backdrop.

Or you could wait for the crown of neon lights to change to the perfect hue.

The mysterious box that you could walk under, made selfies easier with 360 degree mirrors, and twinkling lights surrounding you.

For the foodie, you can sandwich yourself between two burger patties in this specialty couch.

Or give yourself cartoon ice cream cone wings or pizza wings with matching halo. They even have backdrops of mini doughnuts and swirling lollipops.

Across from this is a fully stocked concession. Here, you can see how it’s like to serve the fair candy and treats, instead of eating them. Giant lollipops and gummy bears, fully stocked pop machines, and cotton candy bags in a row.

There was also unique furniture crafted with whimsical poses and arms, giving them animated life. And pink sugar coated clouds with matching cushion to think sweet thoughts on, ended the hall of photo ops.

Next, at the “Transport 2050” booth they spoke to the future of transit and wanting to solicit the city more through surveys. You can help decide the direction that translink will take in future expansion. And to help get your here, they will have 5 extra buses shuttling people from Renfrew skytrain station to the PNE grounds.

Adjacent was showcase of buses, including Vancouver’s first double decker bus, launching in October. And the new Rapid Bus with its specialty route.

And the most unique of them all is the 1950 GMC refurbished into a travelling museum. Once the doors are opened you can head inside to learn more about the history of transportation from horse and buggy to ride sharing.

A similar story was also told across a scale model of the city, and a projector that brought it to life. This is the “Micro City” exhibit. A recording talked about the evolution of travel in our fair city, and the need to start planning for the future as more and more people converge. As the first of the public to see this, I definitely recommend checking this out.

Our tour started with all the newness to The Fair this year, and ended with one of the oldest at The Fair, year after year: “Jimmy’s Lunch”. Owned and operated by the Parson’s family, who have been serving their iconic hamburgers, most notably topped with mounds of fried onions, since 1929. They first opened opened in 1929, serving as a sit down dining establishment. At the time it was the largest restaurant under canvas in North America, and sat 200. Today, they are one of the most well known stands in PNE history. And to celebrate this history and their 90th year at The Fair, they were presented with permanent picnic bench and stand location. A ceremony and occasion we were here to witness.

A new lovely setting marked with the inscription “Presented to the Parsons Family in recognition of the 90th anniversary of Jimmy’s Lunch at the Fair”. A welcomed addition for family and friends to enjoy a burger on.

And lucky for us, we would get to do just that. Fun fact, approximately 900 tonnes of onions have been peeled over the 90 years, served across 4 generations of the family. And at the turn of the century, these very fried onions were actually named one of the 10 most memorable things to come of the 1900’s by “Vancouver Magazine”. And after getting a taste, I can see why they earned the recognition.

I would get the very second burger they have made for this 2019 season. An all beef patty kept warm and moist under a mound of well seasoned, fried onions. With it I had all the toppings including cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce, and a ketchup relish between two white buns. It was delicious, best paired with their crispy fries. I wolfed everything down, slurping up strands of onions and licking the juices that ran down my hands.

And thus ended this little teaser. I will be back to cover all the new food stuffs next week, so be sure to stay tuned for that post and vlog. For more on the events and going ons, visit the link below.

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

Real Things Pizza

When hearing we were staying in Naramata for the weekend, a handful of locals suggested that we visit “Real Things Pizza” for a pie or two. So on our last day, we drove into downtown Naramata to give it a go.

The pizza parlour was already a bustle of orders and pick ups, 15 minutes after they opened. Their sign outside mentions that they open at 4:30pm -ish daily.

Inside there is simply a counter in which you order from. The menu printed out as a take out flyer, on the counter. A television screen scrolled through photos of their other menu items like spring rolls and chicken wings. Past all this you saw a well staffed kitchen with preteens and and young adults working tediously. Necessary, as when we sat and waited for our order, many more bodies could be seen going in and coming out to this little pizza shop. This had us optimistic of the meal to come.

We each ordered our own individual sized pizza which was $4 less than the small, $8 less than the medium, $12 less than their large.

My partner’s was their popular “Nevermatter” pizza with smoked ham, pepperoni, mushroom, pineapple, and bacon on thin crust. (You have the ability to choose the thickness of crust for each pizza, made to order.) It wasn’t your Italian style thin crust, just less dough and more crunch at the base. From the evenly placed toppings, you can tell that they take their time making each round. Therefore it was packed full of salty meats, sweet pineapple, and earthy mushrooms. A classic combination that ate like home cooking. You can tell it was made with fresh ingredients

I had the special, advertised outside on their road side sign and on the chalkboard by the door. A peach and prosciutto pizza with fresh oregano, on my choice of a thick crust. The crust ate like a doughy flat bread with the flavour of herbs. My partner liked it so much that he ate it like bread with butter. It was airy with a crispy chew. The topping combination was mild, nothing dominated, there were just pockets more dense in chewy salted ham or soften fruit that melted into the cheese. It ate like an appetizer with the balance of salty meat and sweet fruit. I liked that the latter was sourced so locally.

Each box comes with a “pizza buck”. A stamped on coupon that gives you a dollar off your next purchase, shame we weren’t from in town to take advantage.

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? – Yes.
A great option for pizza or dinner in Naramata. No more words needed. Don’t deny your cravings.

REAL THINGS PIZZA
961 Robinson Ave, Naramata, BC V0H 1N0
(250) 496-4008
realthingspizza.com

Time Winery: tasting, tour, & bistro

Today we were at “Time Winery” in Penticton. They have just celebrated their one year anniversary, and as happy as that occasion was, it was marred by the passing of their founder and patriarch, Harry McWatters. We would learn more about him and the modern, “Time Winery” through a tour and comprehensive tasting.

Harry has seen many years in the wine industry, beginning with “52nd Vintage” winery, and following up with “Sumac Ridge” and “See Ya Later Ranch”. “Anyone who is growing grapes for wine must give a tip of the hat to Harry”, according to our tour guide, and hospitality manager, Kelley. The “god father of BC wine” passed away in his sleep at the age 74 this July. But will be remembered for pioneering the business, where previously the Okanagan only dealt in orchard fruits. Fast forward, Western Canada is on the map as a destination for wine.

He latest legacy was “Time Wines”. Wine is about time, and the experiences that are measured in time and a place; so what better a title than one that has you reflecting on the above. Fun fact, each clock used on the winery’s labels or merchandise has a special time and its own meaning to Harry. For example, the clocks on the employee’s aprons is the time they signed over the building.

Located in the middle of downtown Pentiction, “Time Winery” was converted from an old theatre. They have kept a piece of this history through the curvature of the old wooden roof, the slanted floor Cinemas, the historic seats, and projector room. More on that later.

We started our tour with 2018’s new release, the “Tribute Brut”. This vintage helped to mark and celebrate their one year. Here, we noted that they pour and serve their wine tasters in a full-sized wine glass, this is so that you are able to fit your nose within it. As for the bubbles, it had a richer mouthfeel, thanks to a secondary fermentation. Another fun fact, all of “Time’s” employees get to end their day with a glass of wine, of their choosing; and currently everyone is choosing this Brut.

We followed it up with the (at the time) not yet released 2018 Sauvignon blanc. Lovely and fresh with citrus and vibrant acidic.

Next was the “Time winery meritage white” with white peaches and a blend of two grapes. Their Meritage plays homage to the French wine of Bordeaux. They got idea from a Bordeaux so call it “meritage” as a merger of the words “merit” and “heritage”. A term Harry McWatters brought to the wine lexicon, standardizing the term. The white used a softer grape with a lower acidity, balancing out its richness.

The grapes needed for the “Time winery viognier” is not indigenous to BC. Here they are good eating grapes, but bad grapes for wine. With a viognier you want a rounder, softer acidity. And sadly will never find a low acidic BC wine. Our cooler climate has it so that the fruits grown here will never get so hot that the acid is removed. But growing in sugar, and softening in acid you get apricot and honey flavour with this white.

The “McWatters Collection Chardonnay” Is barrel fermented and aged for 9 months. With regular stirring, a creamy mouthfeel is created. Multiple yeast strains are also used to produce this complex, yet balanced wine.

During our tour we learned more about the grapes they bring to their winery. Located in the city, they don’t have their own vineyard, so they source all their grapes from various farms that surrounds them in Pentiction. Thanks to Harry they have plenty of grower partners that give “Time” the best of their fruit. The result, “the best expression of their fruit to these wines”. This year the map is as shown above, however, this may change as they cherry-pick which grapes and from where, in order to get the best fruit in the valley. Grapes that are site specific, with the soil samples to prove it.

The backroom tour gave us a look at the theatre’s former glory and its beautifully done wood ceilings that they kept and exposed. A theatre Harry remembered visiting as a child, with floors sticky with gum and soda, and admission was but 25 cents.

Each room was a separate theatre, refurbished with seismic upgrades. Theatre one is adjacent to the the crush pad, where all the grapes come in on trucks. This connecting space also doubles as their event space. In fact, every square foot of their property is licensed for a party. Imagine company gatherings and celebrations being held her with wine so readily available. The floors are even heated and they have installed a great sound system to boot.

Theatre two held the multiple barrels needed for the production of red, and the door that once housed the projection room. Here rests 1200 barrels that are topped up regularly. They sit and ferment, the heat from the reaction causes the product to evaporate, thus making it more concentrated. But you don’t want oxygen in contact with wine so you need to top off the barrel regularly.

Here, we learned how to read the coded serial number for each barrel. The toast of the barrel (the level of char that they see to varying degrees), where it was sourced or built, the year, the place, and the location.

And even got a chance to tap one of the barrels for a taste of “teenage” wine, a wine mid way through the fermentation process. Which we would later be able to compare to the finished product. The “teenage” 2017 Time Merlot has a dense quality to it, you can taste vibrant fruit and all its acid. As it ages this colour will fall out.

Moving along with our tour, Theatre three houses their fermentation tanks from Italy. Using temperature control to cool and stabilize their product, wine is moved from tank to tank so that it can be cleaned, while gravity helps to naturally clarify the wine. Clear wine is cleared off the top, so that by the time you get to the last tank you have less sediment.

And Theatre four will soon speak to the building’s heritage. It is a work in progress, but they hope to reupholster the original seats from the theatre and equip them with wine glass holders. So that guests can stop by on special nights, where they will be hosting original vintage cinema and foreign movies, in this historic building. Each one will be hosted by a sommelier that will pair their wines to the picture on the screen. Imagine a dropped ceiling, a dark room, and popcorn with a side of brut.

We then headed back to the main tasting room for some red wines, including the “Time winery Merlot” as an adult. Here it is richer and more toned down. The fruit backs off, and it drinks softer.

“Time has two meritage” wines. One is time Merlot based with 65%. It is the sweeter of the two. The “McWatters signature collection” is a bigger and fuller blend with 50 % cab sav. Its deep colour speaks to the richness of the wine. This would be best paired with a grilled ribeye or lamb.

But our host’s favourite red is the “2014 Syrah” made with grapes from the south end of the valley. He described it as having power, but with finesse. A smokiness that is reminiscent of mushrooms, with hints of black fruit and spice.

And here, I have to mention that the entire tour was made all the more enjoyable thanks to our host Kelley. Our cheeks were not only red from the wine, but from all the laughing. He brought us into the experience through storytelling and his natural relatability. If you ever get a chance to taste and tour with him, you must. After all, he believes, “If you are not having fun you should go home. Don’t waste a minute of it!”

And after all our laughing and drinking, we would take a pause to enjoy their bistro for lunch. Here, everything that comes out from their kitchen is sourced locally.

We grabbed a seat on their spacious patio, with its prime real estate for people watching. And enjoyed a full glass of the “2014 Syrah”, as we too found this our favourite of the reds we tried.

We started with the highly recommended “Time frites”, Triple cooked and tallow fried; seasoned with herbs, Parmesan, cracked pepper. And served with a black garlic mayonnaise. For a more traditional fry taste they have a “Time frites 2.0”, this version comes with a Cabernet Merlot catsup for dipping, instead. This was created in reaction to customers asking for a more more traditional dip. We treated ourselves to both dips, although the fries really already have a flavour all their own. They were cooked crispy, the way I like it, but my partner found them over cooked. The dips just elevated the starter and created more interest. The garlic mayo was decadent and creamy, and the ketchup tangy, but with less bite than regular ketchup.

I followed it with the feature “Quail scotch egg” with blueberry duck sausage, and a bed of peashoots served with hot honey. I like the idea of crispy breadcrumbs coating juicy meat, surrounding a runny egg, and have never had one this creative. So easy to pop into your mouth whole, these little quail eggs were prepared perfectly runny. The duck meat was light, it didn’t take away from the egg. It was complimented by the peppery greens, the earthy mushrooms, and a the sweater sauce. It was a lovely refined plate, making eggs approachable any time of the day.

My partner enjoyed the “Time burger”. Like the scotch egg, this was a pub classic elevated and made timely with their wine. 1/2lb house ground chuck and brisket, Pacific Rock, pickles, crispy onion, bacon jam, pecorino, and a green peppercorn mayo. It was a juicy burger, with a really satisfying patty, all the flavours just came together.

We definitely enjoyed our time with “Time”, leaving far more knowledgeable and happy than when we arrived. For wine, dinner, or a good time in Pentiction, I highly recommend making them a must stop!

TIME WINERY

Liquidity Wines & Bistro

Tonight we were at “Liquidity” for dinner, here to celebrate my latest birthday. It came recommend from local food and lifestyle writer @myvancityca, so I was excited for the meal to come.

Located in Okanagan Falls, this is a smaller winery, with its bistro and patio larger than their tasting room and wine assortment. They serve Pacific Northwest cuisine proudly highlighting their use of organic and local ingredients. Something that they printed on the menu and speak to in person as you sit down to order. All meats are ethically sourced from small local farms, all seafood is purchased through BC fisherman; and all vegetables come from their organic farming partners, or are grown on site. And then all of it is assembled together in house.

When we entered we were left waiting at the threshold, separating their tasting room for dining room, kept behind the sign asking for us to “wait to be seated”. Here, three different employees acknowledged us, but only one could seat us. We watched and waited as plates coming to past got prioritized, by the three employees delivering them to a seated table.

I remembered having a similar interaction when I had to make the reservation for my own birthday dinner. Over the phone the host was abrupt, she didn’t even acknowledge my request for a nice table, specifying the occasion. Although on the actual day, I did get some well wishes while waiting, and they would more than make up for it with the warm birthday reception below.

We were able to wait for a table that cleared by the edge of the patio, closest to the vineyard below. But the best seats were the ones that weren’t shielded by glass. These had an unstructured view of their infinity water feature, over looking their grape vines, with the blue of the lake in the far distance.

We began our evening with some of their wine. The “Liquidity Rosé 2018” was sold out at their tasting room, and during the time of our visit, the only way to try was at their bistro. A sweeter pink wine with strawberries on the nose. I preferred the “Liquidity Pinot Noir Estate 2017” I had, a rich berry wine that was easy to sip and savour.

To start we nibbled on some warm bread. A one year old sourdough made using flour from Summerland’s “True Grain”. Served with house cured and churned butter, topped with malted salt. I am a fan of sourdough, so enjoyed its natural, acidic tang. A smaller bun with more crunchy crust to gnaw on, and best enjoyed with the creamy butter, minus any of the coarse salt. Little did we know, over salting would be a common thread in our meal.

I ordered the “Sourdough fried oyster mushroom” with a black garlic dip, not realizing its batter was made from the same sourdough dough as above. It had a similar flavour coating the meaty mushroom from Summerland’s “What the Fungus”, but the dip was what flavoured it. It was dense and salty spread, where I wanted more garlic flavour. In the end I found myself painstakingly removing batter from the crispy mushrooms to gently dab it into the dip.

I fully enjoyed the “Cured scallop” appetizer and would have been happy with just it for dinner. Silken scallop with juicy cucumbers, a creamy buttermilk sauce, and fragrant dill. This was a refreshing dish, and a lovely aperitif.

My partner had the “Lamb sirloin” with green onions, mushrooms, miso and lamb bacon. I tried a bite and found it far too salty to want more. He insisted it was ok and found himself sifting through the mix for curated bites, paired with plenty of water. He declared that it was better than it looks, but was disappointed that there were more vegetables than the lamb he ordered it for. I didn’t like the visual of the wilted pea shoots and chunky sauce that pooled at the bottom of the plate. The lamb bacon was a nice addition, but it only made things saltier. It ate more like jerky than bacon, missing the same chew or crispiness as good old fashion pork bacon.

If given the option I would have ordered their tasting menu, but my entire table would have to commit to it as well. However it was sold out, and we weren’t able to order it after 8pm, given their 9pm closing time and the necessity to craft the 8 courses with 4 wine pairings.

As a nice complementary palette refresher between dinner and dessert, we were presented with the “Nootka rose granita” made with fresh shiso and a shiso curd. It was frozen ice and ate like you had a snow cone or slurpee for dessert. The texture was light and icy, and it had an elegant flavour combination, with plenty of beautiful rose flavour. I couldn’t taste the shiso, but I am not complaining as I usually find it too strong of a flavour. My only critique is that it got too sweet at the end, and I had to put down my spoon. I would have liked this more made in to a Bellini-like cocktail with vodka. Overall, a great transitional treat.

With dessert the restaurant offered up two glasses of their “Liquidity bubbly” to mark the occasion. This was their Prosecco-style sparkling, a non-vintage from this season that is only available by the glass.

My partner arranged a dessert to be brought out in surprise for my birthday, but sadly they didn’t have candles for me to blow out. “Miso caramel sticky toffee pudding” with caramel and charcoal tuile, and a black barley smoked ice cream. The crispy caramel cookie shards were the best part, it ate Iike a thin cookie. With the black charcoal ones being more thinner and smokier. The cake was like a warm airy sponge, but incredibly salty from the miso, where I wanted more caramel. The neutral-ness of the ice cream leant its creaminess and offered balance, and the buttery short bread crumble gave the dessert the sweetness you were looking for.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I liked the location, the creative offerings and their mantra of local and organic ingredients. It’s just a shame that we would found everything either too salty or too sweet. I would for a wine tasting and the view. Don’t deny your cravings.

LIQUIDITY
4720 Allendale Rd, Okanagan Falls, BC V0H 1R2
(778) 515-5500
liquiditywines.com

Smoke & Oak Bistro, at Wild Goose Winery

Craving BBQ on this hot summer’s day we found ourselves in Okanagan Falls for lunch. Specifically “Wild Goose winery” and their bistro, “Smoke and Oak”. I have yet to visit this winery so it would a double treat to see it and eat at it.

We were able to call ahead and grab a table on their patio, overlooking their winery. A covered sun deck kept cool with the whirl of fan blades and shade. It was just a shame that our table was in front of their outdoor stage, set up for their concert series. Between the metal scaffolding we got a glimpse of the rows of green grape vines ripening by the unobstructed sun.

Each table was laid with a yellow and white gingham cloth and plastic, to further the outdoor, picnic feel. And classic rock played overhead, taking you back. I kept the vibe going with their “Wild Goose Rose”. A refreshing glass with berry notes and a very pink hue.

To eat we shared their “Smoked and oak BBQ platter”, a customizable plate of meat, where you pay based on how many of the 4 types of meat you wanted. Half an order of pork ribs, angus beef brisket, apple maple pulled pork, and/or shredded chicken leg. Each platter comes with their lemon dill corn bread and sweet pickles, but you get a choice of two sides. Either their mixed greens with blueberry balsamic dressing, tater tots, Mac and cheese, a caramelized apple and tarragon coleslaw, maple roasted garlic baked beans, and/or a grainy mustard potato salad.

We went with the ribs, pulled pork, and beef brisket and to it added the tater tots and Mac and cheese. It was feast for the eyes with all its fulsome glory.

The Mac and cheese was garlicky, with a great soft and chewy mouth-feel. But then you would get bits of crispiness from the Panko topping. It helped to balance out all the meat with its creamy texture. This was both my and my partner’s favourite side.

The tots on the other hand were crispy, but bland. I wanted ketchup, but didn’t ask. As a side, it didn’t help to rejuvenate the taste of everything else, but the dish of halved gherkins did.

The cornbread was airy, with a subtle sweetness from the whole corn kernels, coupled with the strong flavour of dill.

As for the meat, the brisket was perfectly tender but far too fatty, there was more fat that we discarded than meat we ate.

The pulled pork had a familiar sweet and tangy flavour, but was over cooked. At least my partner liked it just fine

The ribs were meaty and smokey, but it lacked its own flavour. Thankfully the trio of table barbecue sauces helped, it added life to the platter and gave much of it some needed kick.

The “rosemary chipotle bbq” was new, the herbaceous of the rosemary added a unique addition to a familiar flavour profile. The sweet and sour “signature bbq” was another tried and true bbq sauce. And the “jalapeño peach” was something completely different. You didn’t get much peach flavour, and I only noted a slight lingering heat from the jalapeño.

And to round out your meal, there is also charred pineapple spheres for a palette refresher.

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.
I do enjoy checking out wineries when in the Okanagan, and I enjoy them all the more when they have a bistro on premise. The wine was great, the food was average, but the experience and the view is why you visit anyways. Don’t deny your cravings.

SMOKE & OAK
2145 Sun Valley Way, Okanagan Falls, BC V0H 1R2
(250) 497-8919
wildgoosewinery.com

Bad Tattoo Brewing

Looking for a place for dinner in Penticton we followed the crowds and found ourselves at “Bad tattoo brewing company”. A doubly great choice consider there was free meter parking after 6pm and no wait for a table of two indoors.

With their garage door/wall raised, and the cool air circling, it all felt like we were outdoors anyhow. The brewery’s raised ceiling gave an extended spaciousness to the place. Above their bar, a poster of each of their flagship brew’s logos, done up like classic sailor tattoos. They really nailed their branding. Which included a great collection of merchandise like back packs, tanks, caps, and patches; on top of all their beers in cans to go.

The place was lively with mainstream rock music and the steady chatter of conversing tables. We were seated by the pizza oven, where the young men were busy behind the counter tossing rounds of dough in the air and topping it with a variety of unique ingredients, thanks to a creative menu. No margherita or Hawaiian pizza here.

It is hard order, there were so many different creative pizza options to tempt you. I was really considering the crocodile bbq pizza with crocodile filet or the fully loaded nacho pizza with olives, or even the cheeseburger pizza with pickles. The table next to us got the former and latter and enjoyed both fully, declaring the cheese burger true to taste and the crocodile more like a bbq chicken pizza.

In the end we shared a pizza, paying $2 more for to have it with two different flavours. My guest choose the “Comfort zone” made with honey ham and local apples, topped cheddar cheese. This was one of the more familiar and “safe” pizzas. The comforts of ham and cheese balanced by the sweetness of ripe apple; hence the name.

I went for one of their pizzas listed under their “weird pizza” section. The “Black and blue” with penticton’s upper bench blue cheese, blackberry compote, roasted local apples and roasted malt. Interesting combo with the salty crust and sharp blue cheese. With the oats it ate like a breakfast pizza. But with the jam it tasted like a dessert pizza, but gritty with the berry seeds.

Our split topping pizza took over 50 minutes to arrive. We waited so long that I sought our server to cancel the order due to our limited time constraints. But it was already in the oven by this time, so he kindly removed it from off our bill.

For drinks I got a “Flight of 5” for $10. Having never tried their beer before I decided to get a taster of one of each of their flagship brew. The row of them came on a metal holder with a laminated label marking its corresponding beer. The labels were the same art that crowned the top of the bar.

The “Vagabond Pilsner” is a traditional Czech Pilsner with a mellow grassy flavour. This was an easy drinking, crisp lager at 4.5%

The “Los Muertos cerveza negra” is a dark lager made from a mix of pilsner, crystals and Munich malts; giving this beer some of it maltiness.

The “Full sleeve” was a strong stout, mixed mostly of English specialty malts. Most notably a chocolate and roasted barley.

The “Tramp stamp pale ale” is a crisp fruit forward, American style pale ale hopped with Australian hops. This had flavours of peach, melon, and tropical fruits.

The “West coast ipa” had even more hops, giving it a bouquet of citrus, grapefruit, and tropical fruit, with a hint of pine.

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 great local brewery with a great vibe. Beers and pizzas are always a good idea. Don’t deny your cravings.

BAD TATTOO
169 Estabrook Ave, Penticton, BC V2A 1G2
(250) 493-8686
badtattoobrewing.com

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