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Month: October 2019 Page 1 of 2

Pendulum Magazine x Origo Club, free cocktail hour

I was invited down to “Q-Lab” (a vape store by Stadium Skytrain station), to check out a new cocktail-tasting experience coming to downtown Vancouver; brought to you by “Pendulum Magazine​“. “Pendulum” is a Vancouver-based online publication, available in both in English and Chinese. It features travel, business, art, design, architecture, photography and culinary arts; internationally. And starting the month of October, they are teaming up with local restaurants and bartenders that aren’t necessarily accessible in downtown Vancouver. Together, they are bringing you a taste of what they are about, right to your doorstep. A concept that began from the feeling that there is not enough being done to highlight Vancouver’s amazing cocktail programs and mixologists. So this is “Pendulum” shining a light on them, with their platform.

I was here for their inaugural test run, two weeks before. A chance to test out the logistics and gather feedback for the official cocktail hour on October 26th, 2019. This is a free event, but in order to attend you need to register your attendance on “EventBrite”. I will provide the link below for those interested. It is a drop-in where guests enjoy a unique cocktail and small bite for their troubles.

October’s feature restaurant was “Origo Club”, focused on fine French food and drink in Richmond, with their flagship location in Beijing. What makes them unique is their desire to combine Chinese art with their food. Diners can expect authentic French cuisine, and enjoy it with the visuals of a rotating art collection. Their Richmond location boasts an exclusive list of French wines, Barons de Rothschild champagne, classic cocktails, and imported saké and whiskies from around the world.

For this collaboration they are featuring a unique Old Fashion. In true Old Fashion fashion, this one contains sugar, bitters, and whiskey. It is normally $20 a glass, but costs 5 times that to prepare. And is completely free to try in the days to come. Created by, Winson Ho, “Origo’s” Bar Manager. It is made with “the rare ​Château d’Arlay Côtes du Jura Vin Jaune​ (from France) and ​Aged 15-Year Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey”. This cleverly named, “Peculiar Fashion” adds a twist with its highlight of the rare French yellow wine, which is not readily available in Vancouver. A bottle will cost you $150-200, given its specialty production. The wine is not sealed in a barrel, but instead aged with air, giving it sherry notes as an aperitif. And a bottle of the 15 year old whiskey usually runs for $129. This promises to be a strong drink so they are suggesting that you don’t drive, if you plan on indulging. It is familiar as an Old Fashion with dry and mellow notes, while being warming and fresh.

With it, “Origo” is showcasing classic French canapés. A smoked salmon croissant with creme fraiche, and a side of water melon radish and three types of pickles. A beautifully composed small bite, but one that doesn’t necessarily match the cocktail above. Best enjoyed alone or with some tea, especially considering the small bite to follow.

And to finish off your snack, grab one of their housemade matcha macarons finished off with a logo stamped chocolate disk.

A great idea, and worth checking out if you will be in the area that day, especially if you like liquor. To see what they are about, register for your ticket with the link below. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/pendulum-magazine-x-origo-club-cocktail-hour-at-89-smithe-tickets-76346513477

The Tours for the Recently Deceased, Beaumont Studios

I am excited to write about this one! This is a one of a kind interactive display, musical, cabernet, comedy show, haunted house, and dance hall; all in one. A performance like no other that celebrates the arts and Halloween across 13 spooky nights: October 18th to 27th from 7-10pm (11pm on weekends).

This is “The Tours for the Recently Deceased”, brought to the you by “Beaumont Studios” in partnership with “Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret”. This is the studio’s largest “most outrageous theatrical initiative to date”. My coverage is based on my media night attendance, where we were able to take photos and videos to help share this experience. Something that I am more than happy to do. I have honestly been raving about the following since its launch night.

I have never been to “Beaumont Studios” before, so this was just as much an opportunity to explore this shared space (I didn’t know this was even a thing), as it was to see the actors within them. The building is set up like “WeWork”, but for artists. “An open and supportive environment to cater to a wide variety of emerging artists and creative professionals”. Several studios/rooms under one roof: hair salon, mechanical garage, musical studio, art gallery, and fashion house; to name a few.

All together, a great location for the 13 nights of guided Halloween Tours. Which includes 8 audience participation performances, and the spooky Tim Burton inspired characters they are hosted by. You were not only able to engage with the actors and take part in the scenes, but can explore the elaborately deviated setting they were in as well.

Your journey begins as you check-in at the front counter. There, you are greeted by your “afterlife” caseworker, June. With cheek and humour she explains that you are dead, but can still escape the afterlife yet. You receive “your handbook”, which are a series of riddles to solve. One by one you visit each character listed and from them and their performance, you extract a clue. A number that correlates to a letter in the alphabet. And together they spell out a word, a password to get you into purgatory, and past that: the land of the living (aka the exit).

You are able to explore the rooms at your leisure and pace, in whatever order you please; even doubling back the way you came, so should you need to. I liked the freedom of exploration, and the choose your own type adventure that puts you in the shoes of the protagonist. Although letting a group of people loose in a limited space can become chaotic quick.

There were points where we didn’t know where to go. We found ourselves bumping into others, joining scenes mid way, interrupting performances/actors, and missing out on key narratives. But worst of all, we had puzzles solved by those before us. And for a completion-ist like myself, and those who are heavily invested in the experience, this takes away from its entirety. Not to mention we were scolded several times by the in-character actors, telling us that we weren’t suppose to be here. For a couple I couldn’t tell if they were acting out acting out. And that shift the mood. With no instructions and no guides, who are we the guests to know where we are suppose to be and when? Therefore, what I am proposing is set groups that roam the space together. Being ushered by a “tour guide” from scene to scene. You pause, solve any mystery as a group (escape room style), and enjoy the fullness of the show. After all, tickets are already booked in 20 minute intervals to facilitate this.

The following recap is in the order in which we experienced it. I will not be divulging too much detail as to what we saw. I don’t want to give away any of the suspense and surprise. Just enough to entice you to visit yourself. And at $30 per ticket ($25 for members) you well get your money’s worth. All the following to see and be a part of, and strategically placed snacks to munch on, along the way.

Please excuse the quality of my photos. I avoided using flash as to not distract the performers even more. It was also hard to focus on the moving actors.

A witch and the Headless Horseman gave you the scare of your life.

In the hair salon, Edward Scissorhands give you one heck of a hair cut.

We walked in on the Mad Hatter having his tea party. Alice and the white rabbit joined us around the table with cookies and mini cupcakes to enjoy.

There was also chips and salsa in the kitchen.

Outback, a mirrored maze stood between you and the Red Queen. She invites you to a croquet match, but on her terms. She supplies the balls and the flamingos.

I enjoyed the comedic stylings of the Penguin, and marvelled at the beauty of Cat Woman and her flexibility.

The Corpse Bride was an amazing singer. She sang of loved lost and curses broken.

Meat Pie was on the menu in Sweeney Todd’s barber shop. A saucy baker gave us a memorable cooking lesson. She also let us in on the secret ingredient in her famous pies.

While Sweeney himself offered guests free shaves. All in a studio of an artist that makes knives, how fitting.

Also roaming around were a host of characters that could help and guide you on your journey in the afterlife. Like Jack Skellington and Sally from “A Nightmare Before Christmas”.

Along the way, each connecting hallway or corridor was just as elaborately decorated. Be it a mystical wonderland or a spooky scene. Plenty of photo ops and backdrops to take advantage of.

And if you make it through this choose your own adventure theatre experience, you meet the ghost with the most himself: Beetlejuice. Purgatory’s most entertaining and most mischievous DJ.

With a cash bar and an open dance floor, visitors are invited to get down and boogie with all that go bump in the night. Admission includes a complimentary drink ticket to get you started. Exchange it or cash for soda, water, beer, wine, or highballs.

In conclusion, for those who like the macabre and art that is off the beaten path, this is for you. Hands down my favourite Halloween experience for this season and year, and one that I highly recommend. A great first of its kind event, that already has me looking forward to next year’s assembly. Get your tickets now with the link below!!

BEAUMONT STUDIOS
316 W 5th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1J0
(604) 733-3783
https://www.thebeaumontstudios.com/
#beaumonthaunt

VanDusen Glow in the Garden

One week to Halloween, and VanDusen Garden’s fall light show is back for another year. But as my first time, this was all new to me. From October 17th to the 27th the garden is open daily at 5pm to 9pm. Visitors can take in the displays with the last bit of day light, break for dinner at one of the available food trucks; and then go back to enjoying the sights, with the dark of the night making the lights glow even brighter.

Where last year the theme was Hansel & Gretel, this year we have woodland magic. As taken from their press release, “The old barred owl has played a Halloween trick by casting a “hootenanny” spell and making it glow. Take a journey through the garden and help Anna the hummingbird and her friends lift the spell by collecting Halloween treats along the way.”

Also new for this year is the expansion of the arena, new on-site food vendors; and a new timed ticket system, that ensures you are fighting the crowds for your perfect shot. Your ticket choices are between 5-6pm, 6:30-7:30pm, or 8-9pm. Tickets are priced at $9.50-13.50, with kids 2 and under free.

As an all ages event, there are crafts for the kids and a scavenger hunt that has them collecting stamps, in exchange for prizes and treats.

The following are a few of the features you can expect, to help plan your adventure and ensure that you don’t miss anything. We arrived early enough to capture some photos with the last bit of day light, then more when the sun set.

“Hootenanny” is the above described magical trickster owl. With colour changing eyes, she perches at the entrance eliciting a scare with the giant letters “b-o-o-!”

The “Scarecrow” sits at the centre of the lake, guarding the lantern lit walkway.

The “Acranophobia” section plays on the age old fear of spiders. But these are less threatening with tinsel limbs and large glowing eyes.

“Harvest Fest” was hosted by a “squirrel”, she solicits your help in lifting the aforementioned spell. You can find her amongst the hay barrels, corn husks, and pumpkins.

I foresee the giant pumpkin being a popular backdrop.

But preferred the highly detailed carved pumpkins, and the ones in the pumpkin patch.

The latter was a collection of jack-o-lanterns, lit from within. Gathering at a stopping point, in a clearing.

The “Enchanted Forest” came with forest sounds and mystical melodies, adding depth to a lit pathway. You walk along and take note of the mushrooms and caterpillars made out of pumpkins, and the projectors adding blinking eyes and the bat signal to the scene.

“Anna the hummingbird” is a large display in green and pink lights. The character also comes personified, greeting the littlest of guests with purple hair, a large tulle dress, and a masquerade mask.

There were also natural features of the park that they decorated with lights, like the berry tone lit cave and the garden dome.

In conclusion, this is a unique outdoor event that gives guests another reason to visit the garden, and a new way to take in the space. Ideal for families and kids who get into the spirit by dawning their own costumes. For how to get tickets and more on the event, visit the link below.

GLOW
5251 Oak St, Vancouver, BC V6M 4H1
https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/glow-in-the-garden.aspx

South Okanagan in the 2019 Honda CR-V

I was heading to the Okanagan for the weekend and thought what better vehicle to get me there than the 2019 “Honda CR-V”, with its best in class fuel economy and its Econ mode to help us “drive towards a greener future”.

I was excited to be able to take in the Okanagan this fall. I have never visited during this season, so found magic in the red, orange, and yellow changing leaves. They were sprinkled amongst ever greens and the rocky mountain range.

We were able to easily take it all in with our no hassle ride. The Honda CR-V’s remote start and walk away auto-lock, saved us time during our pit stops and gas pumps. And it was easy to get in and out of with 90-degree door mobility. There was plenty of cargo room with an easy to fold down back seat and two level modes to meet all our storing and hauling needs.

We paused to take in the river, and stopped to explore the damp soil patches for various mushrooms.

When on the road, the Honda CR-V kept us comfortable and safe. Sitting pretty with perforated leather seats that heated. And well secured with blind spot display, and all wheel drive with intelligent system control. It got us there and back on 8.5L of gas at 100km. 4 hours each way, and driving from city to city in between; an amazing feet for an SUV.

Fall in the Okanagan has fruit stands bringing their pumpkin and gourds out to the roadside for sale. Many of the ones in Keremeos included visual displays for travellers to stop and take photos of and with. I didn’t know the extent of the variety of gourds available, before this trip. Here are some of my favourite photos.

We also stopped to watch cows graze on the mountainside, enjoying the ability to interact with livestock; something that you can’t do in the city.

We eventually made our way to Osoyoos, to our accommodations for the weekend: “Spirit Ridge”. For our time at Canada’s dessert resort and it’s new restaurant, visit the link below.

Our visit specifically coincided with Oliver BC’s “Cask and Keg” festival. An adults only event that hosted local South Okanagan beer, spirits, and ciders; for friendly sampling. For the full review of the participating breweries through tasting, visit the link below.

Cask and Keg, Oliver BC

The following day it was time to celebrate local Okanagan wines through a similar tasting program, at the “Festival of the Grape”. For the highlights of the family friendly event, and a few of the participating wineries, visit the link below.

Festival of the Grape, Oliver BC

During our road trip we also spotted and marvelled at “Spotted Lake”. As per Wikipedia, “Spotted Lake is a saline endorheic alkali lake located northwest of Osoyoos in the eastern Similkameen Valley of British Columbia, Canada, accessed via Highway 3”. The silt at the bottom of the lake is exclusively gathered and utilized by the First Nations people for its healing properties. However, over the years of us visiting, we realized its spots are no longer as bold, and the body water has transformed.

And when in the area, we always seem to find ourselves at “Tickleberry’s”. And despite the cold, the ice cream and gift shop was still a popular spot in fall.

I enjoyed a double scoop in a waffle cone. The seasonally inspired pumpkin spice and “Sunday breakfast”, a vanilla based ice cream made with fruit loops and lucky charms cereal with marshmallow bits.

For dinner on our second night we visited “Convivia Bistro” in Osoyoos. A modern restaurant serving Italian and French cuisine; prepared with local ingredients, and created to be complimented by local wines. Here, we enjoyed some house rosé with our pizza and pasta. For the latter we had lasagna with a tomato meat sauce, cream, Parmesan, and mozzarella. It was all in all pretty standard, it just needed a touch more seasoning. But this comfort serving hit the spot for me, on this night.

Out of preference, my partner ordered the “Goat Cheese And Honey” pizza with the goat cheese on the side. He liked everything else the pizza promised: olive oil, mozzarella, goat cheese, parmesan, sundried tomatoes, bacon, basil, and honey. Truly the pizza needed the pop the goat cheese gave, some interest to contrast with everything else.

CONVIVA
8312 74 Ave, Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V0
(250) 495-2223
conviviabistro.ca

For breakfast on our way back home we had brunch at “Jo Jo’s Cafe”, a popular neighbourhood spot, showcasing local art. Here we enjoyed one of their breakfast sandwiches with bacon bacon, cheddar cheese, tomato, and egg in an English muffin. A good start, before making our way home.

JO JO’s
8316 Main St, Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V4
(250) 495-6652
jojoscafe.ca

And with that this proved to be a quick and successful trip to the Okanagan, all made possible by the Honda CR-V. Thank you for the smooth ride and the travel memories Honda Canada.

#HondaCRV
Honda.ca

Festival of the Grape, Oliver BC

I was in Oliver this weekend, here to partake in the “Festival of the Grape”; the fall festival celebrating the fine wineries of South Okanagan. “Crushing it since 1997”. As Canada’s wine capital, Oliver produces more than 50% of all wine grapes in BC, which is reason for celebration. The festival welcomes over 50 wineries from BC to sample their local wines and fruit in wine.

Similar to the “Cask and Keg” festival (the day before), guests roam around the park visiting vendors for wine tasters, and food trucks for small bites in between. Except today’s event was double the size. Held during the day, this is a family friendly celebration, with plenty to see and do to keep any one engaged, at any age.

We came in 30 minutes earlier with our VIP access, grabbing our glass by the entrance. Every one drinks out of their own miniature wine glass, a great keepsake with the event’s logo etched on.

A new feature this year is the VIP pass. It gave guests the opportunity to enjoy an elevated VIP area. A lounge with a large charcuterie board to nibble from, specialty wines to try, and seminars from winery owners and local and regional contributors to listen to. And while general admission ticket holders had to wait until 1pm to start drinking, VIPs entered at 11:30am and could start tasting from the 4 wine producers stationed in the VIP area. All while enjoying the first seminar of the morning.

This was with Moss, the wine educator of “The Vinstitute” at “Intersection Estate winery”. He has us learning about BC wines in an approachable and fun way. We tried 3 pours, including a Riesling; and two very different tasting reds. With the latter two, the grapes used in both were similar to one another, minus the soil they grew it; and it made all the difference.

The seminars to follow included “learning about BC’s very first Sub Appellation, The Golden Mile Bench; which is home to several notable Oliver Osoyoos wineries”. And the ins and outs of proper stemware, featuring Riedel Glassware. I especially enjoyed the class on pairing the right wine with the perfect cheese with plenty of tasting opportunities.

With the VIP area, you can come and go as you please and explore the festival grounds at your leisure. Under tents were wineries pouring a selection of their collection. This was a great opportunity to learn about a new winery, or try a wine you might not want to commit a whole glass too. All while engaging the very producers of it, with any questions you might have.

The day began with the opening ceremony and parade. Drummers set the tone and pace, and this year’s grape stomp competitors were introduced.

One of “Festival of the Grape’s” main attractions is the grape stomp. In teams of 3, contestants sign up and dress up to compete in the tradition of grape stomping. An old practice that was once the only way grapes for wine were macerated. Now, it is more of a novelty and makes for a great exhibition; especially here as most of them dress up in costumes for the occasion. After 5 heats the team that produced the most juice in the allotted time won.

Also on location were local artists selling their artisan wares. Wine barrel wood work, hand painted wine glasses, locally roasted coffee, and hand made jewelry. There was also the fall art show and sale, set up to showcase various works across varying mediums. You could appreciate them here or take home to own.

For the younger kids, there was a playground for toddlers to climb around in; with face painting and inflatable bouncing. And for those who need a break, there was seating areas available to grab a drink and rest at. Hay bales, picnic tables, wine barrels converted into standalone tables, and floral arrangements featuring recycled wine bottles. And throughout the day, “Jack and Jill” performed live on stage, regaling the crowd with their music.

Though the wine is the real reason why you are here. And with over 50 wineries offering 3-4 different tasters for a ticket each ($1 = 1 ticket), there are far too many to try. Below, are a few of the wineries I did visited. But truth be told it got difficult to try any more after the 5th taster. With no place to spit or pour out excess wine, you find yourself having to drink it all. And a $1 per 2oz pour, you definitely aim to try as many as you can. That price is the best deal I have ever had at any similarly structured event.

There was also a lot more food vendors today and we got to try a few more. Like the honey garlic wings and fries from the “Wings” food truck.

And a gourmet, certified organic hotdog from the “Wienery” trailer. A unique creamy peanut butter, bacon, and dill pickle combo; with crispy onion and spicy mayo, all over their juicy beef wiener.

With an afternoon worth of activities, I can see why the festival attracts more than 4,500 attendees annually. Myself included, who came to “sample a variety of local and regional wines, dance to live music, and cheer on the fun and chaotic grape stomp”. Not to mention the new to 2019 “On-site Liquor Store, where a variety the wines on offer were available for purchase as you departed the festival.”

In short this was a great way to get to know BC’s wine country a little more intimately, and taste your way thought the Okanagan without have to drive from winery to winery. For more on the “Festival of the Grape” and why you need to attend next year for yourself, visit the link below.

FESTIVAL OF THE GRAPE
http://www.oliverfestivalofthegrape.ca/

Cask and Keg, Oliver BC

I was invited down to Oliver to attend this year’s “Cask and Keg”, an outdoor event focused on highlighting South Okanagan breweries, distilleries and cideries. This evening it was adults-only (19 plus), held at the Oliver Community Park. With plenty of free parking, and food and drink vendors on site, there is plenty to see and do for the duration of the 4 hour event.

The premise is you bounce from vendor to vendor, sipping on samples served in commemorative miniature snifter glass. The glasses are a nice keepsake with the event’s branding etched on to it. Your entry includes it and three tickets. The latter comes in handy, given you exchange 1-2 tickets for a taster.

The park is converted into an adult playground with stations set up under tents, lit with lamps. Themed for fall, settings included harvest apples and pumpkins, dry hay, and pressed blossoms. And centre pieces decorated seating areas and elevated the scene. It was all like a farmhouse fairytale.

There are several spots to perch on, and plenty of stopping moments to take in. Including a floral back drop to take photos in front of; and bottles of wine recycled as vases, strung up as an entry way. I especially liked the clothes line of different colour ribbons that wafted in the breeze.

Then when day light turned to night, the scene changed with the romantic glow of generator lights. And the added heat lamps and fire pits were helpful in keeping guest warm.

The whole experience is a free for all, you decide which vendor to start with, which of their offerings to taste (or all 3-4); and where to go for your next, to repeat steps 1 and 2. With over 15 different labels to try and the ability to talk up the owners and producers, there is so much to take away from this festival. And on the flip side, it is just as enjoyable as an occasion to gather your friends at and drink with.

The following is my account of the night, highlighting a few noteworthy points. Please excuse the photos, I was working against the setting sun, but wanted to do my best to capture the joyousness of this event.

There are a handful of local food trucks offering snacks and full serving portions to balance out your drinks with. It is best to make sure you start with a full stomach, and snack in between if staying the entire length of the event.

The following is what we had to share between 3 people. The Nashville hot chicken from “Vagabond Kitchen”, was well recommend by locals. Unfortunately we ordered it without the spice and it came bland, without seasoning. We should have been more specific and asked for it to be mild in heat level. The chicken had a good crunch none-the-less. But without a creamy sauce it was dry and hard to pull together with the cheese, lettuce, and brioche bun. It normally also comes with jalapeño and pickles, both of which would have added some zip to it.

Their poutine was solid, made with real cheese curds and plenty to boot. Just wished the gravy was richer and the fries crispier. But considering how much traffic they saw, and how busy they were, this was great.

From the “Thai on the Fly” truck we had two of their “Thai tacos”. Available in your choice of protein from Thai BBQ chicken, shrimp, or veggie. We has one of the chicken and one with shrimp; folded into a warm tortilla with sweet chilli, Thai basil, bean sprouts, green onion, peanuts, and cilantro. I liked the collection of texture and the unique-ness and freshness the bean sprouts brought to a taco.

We had the “smokie and perogy platter” from the stand with the exploratory name. This was declared their “number 1” dish. Six cheese and potato stuffed perogies, a smokie sliced in half, and plenty of sour cream and bacon bits over both. We ended our night of drinking with this and it was just what I wanted. Tasty and satisfying in all the right ways.

And for our night’s end dessert, we walked out with a bucket of mini doughnuts from “Our little donut factory”, a cinnamon and sugar staple at any out door event. Their warmth melted in your mouth, and you got to lick its sugar off your fingers afterwards.

As for drinks I went out of my way to taste from breweries I have never heard of, or take sips from beers and ciders I would not otherwise order.

The most original was from from “Detonate Brewing Co.” from Summerland BC. They were serving three options from their wooden box tap. I had to try the “Don’t wanna taco bout it”, as it’s name suggests, this is a beer flavoured like a savoury taco. In hit the ground beef spice notes perfectly. A spicy, salty flavour that grew in intensity the more you took in. You almost needed a drink to pair with it.

“Highway 97 Brewing Co.” was here presenting Penticton, offering up their “Okanagan fresh fruit hefe” and/or their “provincial park pale ale”.

“Firehall brewery” in Oliver is located in a repurposed fire hall and the names of their beers speak to their brand. Today it was their “Backdraft blonde” or “Holy Smoke Stout” on tap.

For something stronger, “Noteworthy Gin” delivered on their name; with the owner dawning a noteworthy orange suit to dole out samples of their gin. This is first product released by “The Dubh Glas Distillery”, a new distillery in BC’s agriculturally-rich Okanagan Valley.

For something sweeter, “Hawkers Organic, Rustic Roots Winery and Cidery Ltd.” was here representing Cawston BC; also known as the “Organic Farm Capital of Canada!” Here they offered popular orchard fruits as cider, including peaches and pears.

“Creek and Gully Cider” from Penticton gathered their fruit from the orchards of Naramata. I had their most popular option, a refreshing apple cider with a little “sparkle”.

I liked the theatrics of “Howling Moon Cider House” in Oliver. Their look was steampunk and their display included goggles that you couldn’t see out of, but were fun to wear if you wanted to do a literal blind taste test.

With all this drinking, you can take in a performance in front of the centre stage, in between. Knacker’s Yard, from Victoria, British Columbia (Coast Salish Territories), performed their traditional Irish, Scottish, English, Australian, and original music; doing so since 2013.

In short, if you are in the area, or thinking of a trip to South Okanagan during fall, I definitely suggest revolving your visit around this weekend and “Cask and Keg”; as well as “Festival of the Grape” the day after, like I did. What a way to taste what Okanagan has to offer. For more on the festival, and how you can get your tickets and accommodations for next year, visit the link below.

CASK AND KEG
http://www.olivercaskandkeg.ca/

Spirit Ridge Resort, Osoyoos BC

I was invited down to Oliver BC, to cover fall’s largest spirit and wine festival: “Cask and Keg” and “Festival of the Grape”. A day of celebration for each the weekend of October 5th and 6th. And for my two day over night stay, I was treated to the fine accommodations of “Spirit Ridge”, one town over in Osoyoos. I have explored the property at its exterior, so was delighted to be able to get a more fulsome experience through this weekend stay.

However, time was limited and the weather was cold, so I missed out on enjoying the full amenities of the property. Like the warmth of their heated pools, especially the one dedicated to adults only. If we had more time we would l have explored the “Nk’Mip” dessert and cultural centre through a hike, and a visit to their museum for some education. Or maybe fully relaxed with a massage at the resort’s spa, followed by a tasting and tour at the on site winery: “Nk’Mip Cellars”.

Although, even though I missed majority of the above, I was still able to enjoy plenty of “Nk’Mip” wine during a visit to their bistro, and again with a welcome bottle in our suite.

“Spirit Ridge” is a lakeside resort and a winery, located on sacred land. With Osoyoos Lake and the Okanagan mountain range as its backdrop, this luxury resort is in Canada’s only desert, a place sacred to the Osoyoos Indian Band. If you are looking for a room, majority of them are full suites, so you are basically choosing your view and how many beds you want; and they even have pet friendly accommodations, so the whole family can visit.

Our suite was 337 in the “Lavender” building, 1 floor out of 4, and 1 building out 10 to stay in. The adobe-style structures gives you desert aesthetics, and the home furnishings within, help to settle you in right away. We had two bedrooms, two baths, a fully furnished kitchen and living room. Basically, our accommodations had everything you needed to live on site.

The threshold leads you directly to the kitchen, where a dining room table sits at the centre of stocked cupboards and a collection small kitchen appliances. A two slot toaster, full sized oven, microwave, and compact dishwasher; with enough cleaning pods for 3 loads. There wasn’t a hotel room bar to snack from, but the coffee maker included filters and beans. Or it served as a vessel to boil water for tea bags. Tea that would be sweetened with packets of sugar on the counter, and milk and cream in the full sized fridge. There was even a pantry, should you decide go stock up on some non perishables during your stay. As a whole there was a lot more closet and cupboard space than expected. 3 doors in the master bed room alone, one with an ironing board and the other with robes.

There were two bed rooms, the master with a king sized bed and a washroom with individual toilet room, a bath tub, and single-person shower.

The second was double the size with space for two queen beds. Its washroom only had a shower stall, but it was double the size of the other. Something we only learned of on our last day, after spending two days awkwardly cleaning ourselves in a shower stall that had us staring at its wall.

Both bedrooms had their own flatscreen televisions, but the one in the living room is the largest. It even pulled out and extended for a closer view from off the couch or lounger. A comfy setting with an office desk and a fireplace to boot.

From here you can exit out on to the patio. Our perch had us overlooking the outdoor pool and fire pit. If the weather was only warmer, we could have fully utilize the patio table and barbecue available.

We didn’t have time to cook, and just as well, because what we did enjoy on the resort was even better. As a welcome reception we sipped and snacked on the patio of “The Bear, The Fish, The Root, & The Berry”. Taking in the warm summer-like weather and looking out over their adults only patio and pool.

There, we got to connect with their new Executive Chef, Murray McDonald who educated us on the inspiration for the name of their new signature restaurant and the food it served. “Spirit Ridge proudly sits on the traditional land of the Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation.” The name “comes from a chaptik story passed down through the generations of the First Nations people of the Okanagan.” “The Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation approach to food is based on the creation stories of their culture… based on their story of the Four Food Chiefs.” “Skimxist the Black Bear (chief of animals, representing self-sacrifice, leadership, giving), Ntytikxw Chinook Salmon (water creatures, perseverance, hard work), Speetlum Bitterroot (plants below the round, relationships to the land) and Seeya Saskatoon Berry (plants above the ground, growth, strength, community) are legendary.” (As taken for their website)

The menu strives to bring in as much local produce as possible, with much of it being forage by Chef Murray himself. The following are small portions and variations of dishes from off their regular menu.

I especially enjoyed “Chef Ian’s world famous in east Osoyoos vegan almond cheese thing” (and yes, that is its actual name, coined after the dish was described as such.) It was such a vibrant plate, beautiful in appearance, taste, and textures. Whipped almond ricotta, maple squash, raw root vegetables, toasted farro, charred scallions; and a juniper and hibiscus salt that made all the difference. Thin slices of root vegetables used to scoop up dry clumps of the cheese product, that ate like a stiff hummus. So delicious that I wish I had another serving while I was there, and will live in regret because I didn’t.

The “Askawa” tartare of the land” was made before our eyes. A mix of bison and egg yolk emulsion over wild rice, served with pickles and mustard. It was very dark and refined, tangy and earthy. Given the crumbly texture of the firm rice against the soften meat, I would have liked more crostini served with it instead.

The “Rabbit pasta” was a pride point for our Chef-host. It featured hand cut chestnut noodles with braised rabbit, walnut, kale, lemon, chard chutney, and a berry pan sauce. The pasta is what made the difference, thin and chewy sheets with some texture to chew through. He declared that he doesn’t make any money off of this dish, given the $26 a kg for the chestnut flour used, with barely any white flour added. Chef Murray is looking into making this into a rabbit meat stuffed ravioli in months to come. This was a beautiful, well defined dish. Tender pulled rabbit meat with refreshing tomatoes and peppery greens.

I also really enjoyed the “Pow wow taco”, an exclusive at this event, with talks of it eventually hitting the menu. Crispy and spongy bannock topped with duck confit, white bean sumac spread, squash, and a mint dressing. I didn’t get the duck and didn’t miss it. There was so much flavour in the spread and vegetables, and it all well complimented the doughy base. Its freshness helped cut into some of the bannock’s slight greasiness.

To drink we had our choice of white and red, between “Nk’Nip Cellar’s” light white “Dreamcatcher”, and full bodied red, “Talon.

And followed it with liquid dessert. A tasty cocktail that drank like an apple pie with a cinnamon and sugar rim with actual apple spices for garnish.

But for those who want a quicker meal, “Spirit Ridge” also has a market place/cafe serving up premade sandwiches and pastries, pairing it with hot beverages.

In short, this all-suite resort, with its natural landscapes and delicious food and wine makes “Spirit Ridge a true wellness-centred oasis”; one worth experiencing for yourself. However, if you can’t stay the night, at least visit for a great meal at “The Bear, The Fish, The Root, & The Berry”. Or their soon to come, steakhouse!

SPIRIT RIDGE
1200 Rancher Creek Road Osoyoos, BC, V0H 1V6
(250) 495-4660
https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/canada/spirit-ridge/

Harvest Land & Harvest Haus

After missing last year, “Harvest Haus” is back in a big way, and at a larger venue. From October 10-20th celebrate Oktoberfest with “The Social Concierge” and “Playland”. This year they have made the occasion a family affair, with two features: “Harvest Land” and “Harvest Haus”. The latter is a drink hall for adults; the former a German themed farm festival, with numerous attractions for young and old. I visited opening night and partook in both for the review below.

“Harvest Land” is open at 4pm. Kid friendly, there is plenty to keep them occupied. With a map and well labelled areas, it is fun to explore the expanse of the outdoor fair ground. But be warned, majority of the attractions do require a fee to play.

“Woodland Den” has axe throwing. You pay for throws and get a crash course before you start. A flick of the wrist to make the axe spin and stick, it is harder than it looks. Here, you can also try your hand at log sawing, or simply watch it being done below.

I enjoyed the comedy of the lumberjacks performing in the “logger area”. A show in the use of a chainsaw and the two man hand saw. Two professional teams competed and hilariousness ensued.

I was most excited about the “woodland labyrinth”, so was disappointed by it the most. What looked like hedges to weave through on the map, was actually a series of fencing arranged like a maze. A few panels were decorated, many more left plain. You simply walked along the path, ending up where you started from. Near the exit was a feature that felt undone. As a whole, this exhibit felt rushed. I wish the show runners created pausing points and photo ops within the labyrinth. Or had projectors strobing light and casting patterns for more visual interest. Day or night it is the same with varying amounts of light.

The “Kinder Farm” zone cleverly used exhibits and props from PNE’s agrodome. Tractors, plastic farm animals, and the petting zoo. Lambs, goats, rabbits, chicks, and a donkey made an appearance here.

There were also pony rides from some of the most fashionable horses around. With their manes dyed and their harnesses bedazzled they were like pageant contestants.

 

There was even a pumpkin patch to take photos in. Not the ones on farms where you can pick your own from the patch. But many individual pumpkins assembled on the grass to simulate the experience, without any of the mud associated.

I especially liked the giant pumpkins in planters, still on stem. And the shelf stocked with pumpkins and gourds of various sizes and colours.

Here, you could also purchase pumpkin and cabbages for throwing and slicing. Baby porcelain pumpkins were armed into sling shot holsters; you fired them in a contained hay and grass field. For kids under 12 it was free, parents paid. And no, you don’t get to keep the pumpkin afterwards.

As for the cabbage, at $5 a head, you took each to the “Bavarian Village”, where you could live out your fruit ninja dreams. Wielding a real metal sword, you could stab, slice, or chop your cabbage head down to size. But you aren’t able to keep the salad afterwards.

If you don’t feel comfortable swinging a sword, you can watch the professionals handle theirs with sword play demonstrations, or get more comfortable with one through “knight camp training” in the “Marketplatz”.

And if swords aren’t your weapon of choice, there is also archery lessons and the opportunity to pull an arrow at a target.

Looking for more fun and games, then take part in classic fair games for prizes. Like ring toss and gone fishing.

All the above is located outdoors, so if and when it rains you can retreat into the “Marketplatz” to keep dry. Here you can ride on a merry-go-round or mini coaster. Or run around in their fun house. There are also vendors selling handmade wares to shop.

And for those needing an outfit for “Harvest Haus”, traditional lederhosen and dirndls are available for sale, as well as felt hats and steins. All of which are highly recommended when partying it up in the beer hall, which opens to ticket holders (separate from Harvest Land) at 6pm.

All “Harvest Haus” guests are required to rent and drink out of one of their branded steins for $3, plus a $5 deposit you get back when the stein is returned. If you spring for the VIP ticket, your admission includes the cost of the stein rental, and access to the raised Bavarian-themed long table VIP seating area, with its own VIP bar. This area guarantees you a seat in front of the band and the live performers.

Acrobats, jugglers, fire twirlers, and unicycle performers roamed the beer hall and fair grounds engaging in guests and posing for photos.

For those who are planning to stay for the evening’s festivities, I suggest eating before. Fuel up when exploring “Harvest Land”, as only salted and sweet pretzels are available within “Harvest Haus”. Majority of the food trucks and food stands are open and operating outdoors. You can bring said food in to “Harvest Haus”, but will need to check your stein in when leaving, and line up to get back in. And that is a missed opportunity, had their been food available indoors we probably would have spent more and stayed longer.

Food vendors included PNE staples like the grilled cheese stand, the one that specializes in chicken and waffles, and flavoured mini doughnuts. For the Oktoberfest theme there were plenty of German meat options available like pork hocs, bratwurst and sauerkraut, porchetta sandwiches, and pulled pork buns for various food trucks.

As for “Harvest Haus” itself, the event gives you the ability to drink and engage with other German and European beer-loving folk. All while partaking in drinking chants, and regale in the music of an oompah band: the official Harvest Haus sound of the Halle; as well as DJ Meike Zeddam, der mann über die stadt. The event runs every night until the 20th, with special seatings on certain days. So for more on that and to learn how to get your tickets for the largest fall themed celebration and Oktoberfest party, visit the link below.

Opening Night: Thur, Oct 10, 4pm – 10pm
Friday Night: Fri, Oct 11, 4pm – 10pm
Thanksgiving Weekend: Sat, Oct 12— Mon, Oct 14, 12pm – 10pm
Weeknights: Wed, Oct 16 — Fri, Oct 18, 4pm – 10pm
Closing Weekend: Sat, Oct 19 — Sun, Oct 20, 12pm – 10pm

HARVEST HAUS
Hastings Park – Home of the PNE Fair
2901 E Hastings St
Vancouver, BC V5K 5J1

Potter’s House of Horrors

I love Halloween, I love the decorations, the dressing up, and all the candy. Though admittedly I am a scaredy cat, so up to now have avoided majority of the haunted house attractions that also pop up this time of year. But in this post, I would pull up my big girl pants and brave the two haunted houses at one of Vancouver’s well known haunts: “Potters House of Horrors”.

Running until October 31st, you have 3 weeks to visit for yourself. They are open daily from 7-10pm and 7:30-10:30pm on the 18th, 19th, and 25th to the 27th. Located in Surrey, it is a bit of a trek, but with two fully loaded haunted houses and plenty of attractions to entertain, the drive is well worth it. Tickets are $15.99 for adults and $12.99 for children. And a ticket is required for each house. So visiting two houses equals $31.98. I strongly suggest paying the $14 extra for the (adult) speed pass, in order to skip the line. It does get pretty lengthy and with the necessary time in between groups entering, this wait does get extended. Not to mention, it is doubled if you want to visit both haunted houses, with a need to wait in the same line twice. But with both of our speed passes we blew by everyone and shot to the front.

Although if you have the time and a solid group to wait with, the time does pass with costumed actors engaging the crowd and posing for photo ops. In fact, the clerk and the front of the line pointed out the owner of “Potter’s” dressed like a goul with rubber mask and a well tailored bones and pumpkin patterned suit. He climbed on the wooden barriers, turned him self upside, and tried to catch visitors by surprise.

The whole complex is themed like an abandoned town with bakery, movie theatre, and butcher shop. Each building with its own condemned facade, slewn with corpses and creepy crawly things. My photos are only of the exterior, as you aren’t allowed to take photos in either of the haunted houses. One, as to not ruin the surprise for others, two you wouldn’t want to stay in any one room for too long anyways. The actors are able to travel between rooms and follow you from one to another. They also have cameras that are monitored by security to ensure that this rule is being upheld.

I won’t be going into much detail of the sights and sounds of each house, you’ll have to come down and experience it for yourself. All I can say is it isn’t for the faint of heart, and if it wasn’t for my brave companion, who I grabbed on to tightly, I would have used one of the many emergency exits to escape the horror long before the exit. These were two of the longest haunted houses I have ever been in. A 15 minute trek for most, and what felt like much too long for a scaredy cat like me.

New for 2019 is “Death Valley Motor Inn”, another haunted building to fit into their haunted town. Themed like a lonely desert hotel, you explore each room uncovering all the “Psychotic killers, deranged murderers, and midnight stranglers that wander the hallways looking for their next victim.” With animatronics and compressed air shooting your direction, you don’t know if what is behind you an actor or a moving machine. Although it is clear when the fully costumed and fully committed actors begin following you around and screaming for you to “get out!” Thank goodness they can’t touch you, so you don’t have that added fear to worry about.

The second house is the “Devil’s Descent”. I suggest visiting this house first if you are planning to do both. We traversed it second, and found it less scary with less actors than that of the gory inn. So to ramp up your night enjoy an exploration into deep underground caves and forlorn woods first. This was definitely more of a visual treat. The elaborate caverns and spooky swamp had me wishing for more time to immerse myself in the scene. To be able to poke and prod, and really inspect the craftsmanship that went into this.

In between each house, we were able to take a break in their attraction area. Neon colours and strobing lights. Here, you can pose with numerous curated photo ops. Disco-loving zombies and pumpkins, and well dressed skeletons on a fancy night out.

But my favourite backdrops were the the ones bathed in black light, making everything white or remotely neon glow under its light. These satanic symbols look less scary in electric pink and lime green.

Here, there are games to test your strength and stamina at reasonable prices. $5-10. An arcade punching bag with tracker, the ability to ride in a moving coffin with audio, a spooky dress up photo booth, scary escape room, and glow in the dark paint ball.

We spent $10 on the latter, sharing 100 rounds between two. With paintball masks we headed into the enclosed range. 100 paint balls to shoot in a random black lit room, already well saturated in paint. With moving targets and dangling objects there was plenty to aim with your crosshairs at. Rock music plays overhead and counts your time down.

And what attraction is complete without a gift shop? This one is equipped with spooky apparel and costume accessories for sale. There is even a concession stand on site, should you feel a little peckish.

With so much to see and do, this is one worth crossing off your Halloween check list. Set the tone for a spooky October with “BC’s #1 Scariest Haunted House” (as claimed on their website).

POTTER’S HOUSE OF HORRORS
12530 72 Ave, Surrey, BC V3W 2M6
(604) 572-7706
https://www.pottershouseofhorrors.com/

Twilight Drive-In with the Honda CRV

I have never been to a drive-in movie theatre before, so what better a time than during the last bit of dry season, to check out the “Twilight Drive-In” in Aldergrove. Although, regardless of weather, all movies scheduled for the day will still play: rain, shine, sleet, or snow.

Our vehicle of choice: to get us there and to sit and enjoy the movie in was the “2019 Honda CRV”. With its best in class fuel economy, even though the drive was far, our wallets didn’t suffer too much. Which meant more money spent on movie-viewing snacks.

Your choice in movies are posted online, a few days before the start of the week. Originally we were planning on visiting during a Tuesday, when general admission is only $10, and you save $3.50 per person. But for fall, they are only open from Friday to Sunday. And this week it was a marathon of clowns. Either the new “Joker” movie at 7:30pm or “IT 2” at 9:40pm. But you needn’t choose, because admission allows you to watch both movies. It is worth noting that they only accept cash or debit at the box office, and cash at the concession. Although there is an ATM on location, so should you need it.

The box office opens 45minutes before the start of the movie. Ushers with reflective jackets and flashlights help guide your way. Each vehicle is given a plastic garbage bag, and encouraged to use it instead of littering. It is first come first serve, and you park where ever you want. We drove to the very front as to not have the view of any other cars in our foreground. Individual spaces are marked with a white pole, well aligned to ensure that each vehicle has plenty of room between one another. The overall ground is flat, but each “stall” has a little mound of dirt that you can use to perch your vehicle atop of.

Many of the SUVs present, reversed into their stall. With an opened tailgate, passengers bundled up to watch the movie, cozy with pillows and blankets surrounding them. Had we known this before arriving, we would have dressed warmer and done the same. After all our “Honda CRV” came with plenty of cargo room, and two-level flat luggage compartment. A “full flat mode” and a “capacity max mode”, both designed to fit your storage needs, or in this case two grown adults.

For audio you need to tune into a specific FM station, within your car. Meaning you can set the volume to how loud you like it. I enjoyed being able to talk over the movie, to engage with my guest, snack loudly on our food, rustle with careless abandon when I wanted some candy, and turn on the light if we dropped anything. And not encouraged, but possible, is playing with your phone during the movie as well.

To access the audio it is recommended that you turn your key to the “Accessory” position, to consume as little power as possible. You also leave your headlights and brake lights off during the movie (as to not distract from other’s experience). Cars with daytime running lights usually can be turned off by applying the emergency brake.

For food, you get out of the car to purchase what ever you like from their indoor concession stand. This is also where the washrooms are. There are only 2 tills, and the clerk that takes your order is also the one that assembles it. Everything minus the burgers and fried food, which comes from the kitchen. So be warned and come early, as there is a wait to get in, let alone order. I didn’t mind the extra time, to look over the lengthy menu. I was delighted that they offer a lot more than most normal movie theatres do. Fountain drinks in plenty of flavours, bottled drinks, energy drinks, ice coffees, and hot beverages. If you are looking for something more substantial they have plenty of sweet snacks to munch on: a variety of chocolates, gummies, and candies; ice cream bars, and even sno cones. For savoury there was the classic buttered popcorn, corn dogs, burgers, hot dogs, fries, poutine, onion rings; and nachos.

We feasted in the comfort of our Honda CRV cabin. Where we were able to sprawl everything across the central console. Convenient, as we stayed in the front seat for the duration movie, lowering our perforated leather seats back for the perfect recline. The only hiccup, not being able to run our vehicle fully meant no heated seats or rain sensing wipers. So with the gentle rain coming down, there was the need to turn on the car in order to clear the wind shield of moisture now and again. Had we watched from the tailgate, the above wouldn’t have been an issue.

As for the aforementioned food, the following is all that we shared and it was all better than we expected. The “Nachos supreme” came with some assembly required. A sealed bag of corn chips that you pour out into a cardboard box and top with sliced jalapeño. All to enjoy with a dip into hot nacho cheese and/or a scoop of juicy tomato salsa.

The large order of popcorn came with multiple pumps of butter. A couple mid way through, and more, once filled. The ideal snack for any movie goer.

The onion rings had a good crispiness to them, but I wanted more crunchy batter and less gummy onion.

I liked the use of actual cheese curds in the poutine, but not so much the gravy. It was flat and I could have used some more pepperiness to it.

The chicken bites came with your choice of sauce. We went for the honey garlic, which was two sauces combined in one dish. They did what I wanted, adding some salty and sweet to these breaded nuggets of white meat.

The hot dog was exactly as expected. A regular wiener in a plain bun, which you dress as you like at the condiment bar.

I was surprised by how much I liked the “Double burger”, I added cheese to this stack of burger patties, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and pickles. It just needed more ketchup for my taste.

And for dessert, our favourite candy to leave our meal on a sweet note. I thought about ice cream or a sno cone, but didn’t want to visit the concession stand mid movie or in the little time you have between movies.

Between the double feature there is an intermission, a video plays inviting your to visit the concession stand. It is basically food coming to life in games and dance. Gum and liquorice jumping rope, a popsicle leading cups of ice cream in a march, and a bag of popcorn juggling its fillings. And when the hot dog wiener takes the stage and eventually lands in the bun, everyone honks their car horn. The honk serves no other purpose, besides you acknowledging that you have been to the drive-in before and know of this ritual.

As for the movie, I don’t review cinema; although as a longtime Batman comics fan, I can say that this Joker’s origin story holds up and satisfies. And as for “IT 2” I am a notorious scaredy cat, so couldn’t stomach most of it without closing my eyes tight and plugging my ears with my finger tips.

Overall, I highly recommend this experience. This was a great way to enjoy a newly released movie, in the comfort of a car, with surprisingly tasty food to boot. And done even better if your vehicle of choice is the 2019 Honda CRV.

HONDA
#HondaCRV
https://www.honda.ca/

TWILIGHT DRIVE-IN
3350 260 St, Aldergrove, BC V4W 2B1
(604) 856-5063
twilightdrivein.net

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