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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

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

#WastetoWonder, Metropolis at Metrotown

Metropolis at Metrotown has done it again, they have yet another great feature in their Grand Court worth visiting. From August 8 – September 8, 2019 mall goers can marvel at the “Waste to Wonder” exhibit. The “largest flip flop and animal art exhibit in the world”, a one of a kind installation handcrafted by “Ocean Sole Africa”.

“Ocean Sole” is a not of profit focusing on environmental protection. “Not only are they creating employment for a country that has an unemployment rate of 40%, but they are also sending a message about how we can help our planet, our oceans and people; through creating beautiful art.”

They are making a difference by bringing awareness to both the amount of waste in our oceans and the need to protect endangered animals. Volunteers out of Kenya walk rivers, lakes, and oceans in search of loss and discarded flip flops that they can turn into works of art. So stunning are these installations that they are available for purchasing through an auction. The proceeds of which will go to the “Variety Children’s Charity”, helping kids in BC with special needs.

 The narwhal.

 The orca.

 The bison.

 The grizzly.

 And the caribou.

All five animals together are made from over 6,500 flip flops, requiring 2,500+ hours of work, by more than two dozen artists. Their gathering here is “Ocean Sole’s” largest exhibit to date.

There is also a beaver, an additional animal that has been commissioned. He has already been spotted “wandering around” downtown, but is now settling in Metrotown’s grand court for the month. This one you are able to get close to and take a photo with.

And as usual, Metrotown has created a fun way for visitors to win a $1,000 shopping spree. At either of the available kiosks, you can guess how many flip flops went into making the orca for a chance to win. Additionally you can win a prize package or a $500 Metropolis giftcard by visiting the “Waste to Wonder” exhibit, snapping a photo and sharing on line with the tags “METWastetoWonder and @metropolisatmet.

There are also a variety of different events to take part in during the duration of the showcase. The link with all the details will be provided below. For now, here are the dates and their brief descriptions.

August 8th: 1-3pm.
You can meet one of the “Ocean Sole” artists who will show you how he does! There are only 100 spots available for this and resignation is required. Each participant gets a souvenir and a keep sake photo.

August 14th and 18th: 2pm, 3pm, 4pm.
The upcycle bracelet workshop teaches kids of all ages how to make their own beaded braclet, crafted from the same materials as the animals today: discarded flip flops.

August 15th, 22nd, 29th: 12-4pm
Metropolis is having a plastic drive. Drop off any clean, one time use plastic container, straws, and/or plastic bag to help get them out of landfills. The first 800 customers who donates a full grocery bag of plastics each day will receive an reusable gift.

August 21st: 3 and 4pm.
Kiehl’s upcycle workshop. Bring your old Kiehl make up containers, and learn how to make them into green planters. This too has limited availability and requires registering.

I attended the media launch which included live music, various beverages, small bites, and a live demonstration from “Ocean Sole”. Our visit also included a closer than normal look and the rubber animals. When the exhibit opens tomorrow, they will be sectioned off to ensure they are kept safe and in good condition, for those who purchase them for a good cause.

The following are the small bites courtesy of “Forage” we was catering.


Beets with blue cheese.


Blue lemonade and Fruit punch. Non alcoholic.


Mac and cheese croquettes with house made ketchup.


Birch with maple syrup jelly over an heirloom tomato salad.


Chicken satay over rocks.

“MET Waste to Wonder” is open during mall hours daily August 8th to September 8th, 2019 and is a free experience for everyone to enjoy. Even more reason to visit the mall, outside of its air conditioning. Come by for a photo op, to learn something about each endangered animal, to take part in a unique workshop, and for the ability to win a shopping spree!

Metropolis at Metrotown, Grand Court
4700 Kingsway, Burnaby
(Lower Level, near T&T Supermarket and Toys R Us)

#METWastetoWonder
@metropolisatme
https://metropolisatmetrotown.com/event/waste-wonder/

 

Chilliwack Sunflower Festival

From the same farm that brings you the popular tulip festival every spring, here is the 2nd annual sunflower festival, that now happens every summer. More than just rows of yellow flowers to take photos of, they have plenty of photos ops to have you spending hours behind your phone. Today, I was invited for a sneak peak look at the festival, 2 days before it opened to the public. Therefore my experience will be slightly different that what you can expect, so I will be sure to point out any differences.

The festival runs from August 1st to September 15th and is open daily. They boast close to 17 acres of beautiful blooming sunflowers in 35 different varieties. Mammoth sunflowers towering above you at 15 feet, 6-8 foot Sunrich sunflowers, known for their stunningly perfect blooms.

There is also a 3-acre field of Dahlias, featuring 54 different varieties. Some even growing over 10 inches in diameter, to the size of a dinner plates.

For a accurate look at all the photos ops, check out my latest vlog, as I tour your around the “Chilliwack Sunflower Festival”!

For the still photos keep scrolling down.

Grab a seat on their swinging bench.

Or swing side by side with a friend on their swing set.

Pose by their wooden bridge, or climb up for a more scenic background shot.

Perch yourself on the stationary bicycle with wicker basket up front.

Or climb on to the tractor.

Pose in front of their windmill.

Or perch behind the wooden sunflower stand.

Dawn a pair of Dutch wooden shoes or climb into the large one that can fit your entire family. Both are new features this year and were handmade and painted in Holland just for this festival.

And of course surround yourself amongst all the sunflowers.

There is a play ground for kids to climb up and slide down. And giant wooden games like Jenga, dominos, and the bean bag “cornhole” toss to play.

For those who like souvenirs there is a gift shop with local products and sunflower themed goods for you to purchase. As well as bulbs from spring’s tulip festival that you can buy to plant your own at home garden.

And if you get hungry there are food and drink vendors on site. “Big Red’s poutine” truck offers sunflower seekers two types of fresh cut fries and gravy. Their “Chilliwack poutine” includes chunks of local pork smokies, thick gravy, and Chilliwack local cheese curds over hand cut fries. And for the vegetarians there is a poutine with a vegetable based gravy over the same Chilliwack local cheese curds and hand cut fries. Cheese optional for those looking for a vegan option or something that is dairy free.

And to wash it all down they also have fresh squeezed lemonade, made from half a lemon juiced with a hand pump, served with simple syrup and ice.

During our visit there were also two local Chilliwack wine and beer vendors that we got to sample from. Like the “Whispering Horse” winery from up the road.

And “Old Yale” brewery with fruit infused beers like a “juicy peach tea radler”, “Moon dance mango wheat”, and the “Knotty Blonde ale”.

They both paired well with the charcuterie board and veggies and dip that we nibbled on.

And our night ended with some sunflower cupcakes in either vanilla or chocolate and sunflower short bread cookies. I appreciated the cohesiveness in their theme.

We also got a crash course on bouquet building with Brian of Minter Gardens. He taught us how to shape our own sunflower themed flower arrangement, which we could take home. Please not the flowers in the fields are for everyone to enjoy, so please do not pick these. For a fresh cut keepsake, visit the giftshop instead.

Overall a great festival that celebrates our local farms and their harvest. Worth visiting for your next profile picture. For ticket information and further details visit their website below. https://chilliwacksunflowerfest.com/

CHILLIWACK SUNFLOWER FESTIVAL
41310 Yale Road, Chilliwack, BC V2R 4J1

Summerhill Pyramid Winery

We were at “Summerhill Winery”, one of Kelowna’s largest wineries, well known for their pyramid. And today we were lucky enough to have gotten a personal tour of the property with Ezra Cipes, the CEO of Summerhill himself. It was such a treat to be able to experience the winery and his father’s legacy through his eyes. The following are the authentic highlights I captured.

“Summerhill” is an organic winery, priding themselves on their sustainable methods, disrupting as little of the land as possible while operating on it. They have 80 acres, yielding grapes on 42 of them. The property includes a large gully that serves as a wildlife preserve, and wetlands that empties out in to a creek. All waste water from their wine processing gets funnelled under ground to the wetlands, giving it nutrients to flourish. They also make their own compost, utilizing biodynamic farming techniques; which allows them to grow enough in their green house to serve garden fresh fruits and vegetables at their restaurant. (More on the restaurant later.)

The vineyard has been in place since 1940. The Cipes family took over in 1987. Back then it only grew table grapes and hybrid grapes, more suited to the old wine industry with “jug wine”. When they took over, Stephen Cipes introduced Riesling grapes, to prove that European grapes would grow in Canada. And when he was successful, they began replanting and rebooting the winery, specializing in sparkling wine, that the land was so well suited for.

And we would get a taste of this sparkling as our tour started at their indoor tasting room, where we sampled their “Cipes brut”. This is Canada’s most awarded wine, year after year it has won gold medals internationally. They use the same methods to make their sparkling as they do in France to make champagne, but with non traditional European grapes. At “Summerhill” their grape blend is Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. The result, a sparkling with a natural vibrancy, and an acidic freshness. Truthfully I am not a fan of sparkling wines for their fizziness, but the “Cipes Brut” is an exception. It was delicious and light, easy to drink without that soda feel.

With our glass in hand and its taste still on your lips, we explored the property, starting at the cellar. Normal tour groups get a look at these large vats behind a glass window, but we were able to walk amongst them. And here, our crash course on wine making began. (So excuse the abbreviated explanation).

Yeast eats sugar, and converts in to carbon dioxide with heat and alcohol. This juice will then become our wine. The crushed grape yeast that lives on the grape skins turns into wine or vinegar.

The equipment necessary for this process requires a lot of cleaning and sanitizing. It is very important that no bacteria exists to spoil the wine. And being an organic winery means they don’t use any harsh cleaners, instead they use steam to clean: ozone, which is an anti microbial. They are also constantly cleaning, as the wine process creates an environment for bacteria to naturally grow.

All reds are fermented in the large barrels. Whites spend their time in stainless steel, with a dimpled cooling jacket. This allows them to temperature control their environment.

And as for sparkling wine, making it is like doing things twice. You add more yeast and more sugars. It is then bottled and allowed to age in crates before it is clarified and they work to get all the solids out. The “Cipes Brut” we tried earlier is their youngest sparkling.

Once bottled all the sparkling wine gets slotted into a gyro-pallets. It rocks the bottles back and forth, shifting its axis steadily. It moves every three hours, until after 4 days it is turned fully upside down. This is so all the yeast and sediment settles in the cap.

Next comes the riddling, where all the bottles are submerged upside down, so that the neck of the bottle is in a solution that has a low freezing point. The result, the neck is frozen and the dead yeast is incased in a block of ice.

A very specific machine gets rid of the ice block, while simultaneously topping the bottle of wine up. The finished bottles go through a washer and quality control. The labels are checked, bottles are turned upside down to ensure there are no leaks; and the wine is inspected for clarity, to make sure all the sediment has been removed.

All completed cases then go to the pyramid to rest, like we would. They are aged for 15-18 months, and as long as 12 years. The first version of the pyramid was built in 1989, the current one is the second rendition, both were created for and used only as their wine cellar. They were built by Stephen Cipes, who studied and experimented with pyramids before embarking on building his own. He even went to Egypt to learn the architecture necessary. His inspiration came from a trip to Europe, when purchasing equipment and grapes for his own winery.

In Europe they age wine underground, traditionally in cellars lit with gas lamps. There, Cipes felt the energy of the space, and immediately recognized that it was an integral part of the wine making process. However, the ground composition of Europe versus Canada varied. And what was in place there, couldn’t be imitated here. So the next best thing was to mimic the limestone available underground in Europe, in his Canadian pyramid. A strong foundation with four pillars and capstone, all continuously fused with concrete and reinforced with fibre glass, using not a single nail. The Pyramid was built to represent the geometry of nature, with angles taken from nature, like the Fibonacci sequence; and set with an alignment to the stars. The sacred geometry of the room saw many using it to celebrate the moon and the stars. The community uses the pyramid as a gathering space to engage in group meditations during full moons and the equinox. These events are an open invitation, with admission being a vegetarian potluck item to share. Attendees eat, meditate, dance, and drum. Similar gatherings happen at their pit house as well. (More on that below.)

At the centre of the pyramid, surrounded by wine racks and palettes of packaged cases of wine, we were invited to disconnect and enjoy the space. To close our eyes, breath deep and take in the silence and harmony. I found the stillness of the space easy to relax in, and melt into.

During this part of the tour we didn’t close the push open doors behind us, and as a result visitors found themselves venturing in to the dark of the pyramid, un-accompanied. And instead of telling them that the space was closed to tourists, Ezra welcomed the family with two young children in, catching them up on what we were discussing prior to their entry. It was here that I was impressed by his customer service and learned how he fully represents and lives according to the principles of the winery. He embodies that welcoming energy. Similarly I witness him picking up trash off the property and pocketing it each time. He stated if he didn’t, who would. He had been speaking to the care he had for the land and here he showed it.

Next our tour took us to the above mentioned pit house. The “Makwala Memorial Kekuli” is a scared space built in respect and reverence for the ancestors of the land. For those who wish to enter they ask that there be no “idle talk”, alcohol or parties, and no ceremonies without permission. It is here the moon celebration potluck is held. Here, Ezra spoke to nature and the need to have a different mentality and relationship with the earth. A way to fill all ecosystems so that there is balance. For example when you use pesticides you dominate and control the environment, and dictate what you want to survive. At “Summerhill” everything coexists and the tent represents them being a part of nature.

I have visited “Summerhill” once before and when I look back at my time there, not only do I associate them with the pyramid, but also all of their unique photo ops and play things for children. See saws, putting practice, a overturn giant bottle of Sparkling pouring into a fountain. A stain glass pyramid, a hand carved door, and the ability to stand on top of the world. This makes them the most family friendly of all the wineries, giving plenty to keep both parents and kids occupied during their visit. This creative direction comes from a place of doing good. They want to welcome everyone, so that no one feels intimated, as you would be at other more stuffy wineries. Given all the kids running around today and all the laughter you hear, I can say that they are doing a great job in this regard.

Next we went back indoors to their tasting hall, to try another one of their sparkling wines. The 2012 “Cipes Blanc de Blanc” is the white of the whites. Its name refers to to traditional grapes of the champagne region that they use in this. Layering on 6 years before uncorking for a more classic bubble. A bone dry sparkling that is highly acidic with a sugar layer added. Ezra described this as having a “Creamier, finer bubble from that of traditional methods. A buttoned up version compared to the everyday Processco.”

Our tour eventually ended at their restaurant, where we fully enjoyed the fruit and labour of the land we were on. We naturally gravitated to their patio, overlooking their vineyard and event space set up with arch and rows of chairs, wedding ready. This was the ideal space to enjoy the freshness of the land and their mostly vegetarian menu. The following were what Ezra recommended, and the perfect wine to go with it.

The “Organic caperese salad” with garden tomatoes, herbed oil, garden basil, local bocconcini, and balsamic pearls. Normally their tomatoes are fresh from their own garden, although due to a smaller crop yield they have had to source their tomatoes locally, from neighbours. This was a beautiful salad, and as refreshing as it looks.

By comparison the “Organic vegan “calamari”” was a lot more denser, with deep fried tempura oysters mushroom and house made organic tzatziki. The crunch was good and the flavour amazing. A great one to share and nibble on as you drank.

Together our two plates were paired with their 2017 Summerhill Organic Vineyard, SV Riesling. It was sweet and bright with fruit, balancing everything out perfectly.

They also have a new secondary kitchen, operating out of a shipping container outside, adjacent to their outdoor tasting room. We missed getting a chance to taste their cuisine here, given it’s shorter operating hours. Here, they served up international fare, giving visitors a quicker meal option that they can pair with a glass of wine outside. It also cost less with snack items most child would like. Fish tacos, hummus and naan, sweet and sour pork, bratwurst and sauerkraut, butter chicken, crispy ribs, and chicken souvlaki to name a few. Everything ranged between $8-9 a plate.

In conclusion, I highly recommend taking the tour at “Summerhill”. You think you know a wine, but there is nothing like learning about the vision behind its winery. Throughout this experience, we grew a new found appreciation for “Summerhill”. And we certainly wouldn’t have felt that way if not for the informative tour, coupled with glasses of their trademark sparkling. What a great afternoon, in a great winery, enjoying an amazing product cultivated through looking at more than just the process and out come of the wine; but also considering the environmental responsibilities and the people behind the product. Creating the right conditions for something natural to happen, not making it happen. The tour and Ezra have made me a brand fan. A humble CEO with approachable staff. I will definitely be recommending and drinking more of their sparkling!

SUMMERHILL
4870 Chute Lake Rd, Kelowna, BC V1W 4M3
(250) 764-8000
summerhill.bc.ca

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery

I was visiting Kelowna with a friend who was a wine enthusiast, yet has never visited Canada’s wine country. So for her first visit to Okanagan we made sure to hit a few of the largest wineries in the area, starting with “Mission Hill”. And the best way to take in this landmark winery is with one of their guided tours. Not only does it take you to places otherwise sectioned off, but you gain a new found appreciation for the winery in question.

We started our afternoon exploring the compound on our own, arriving early enough to avoid the bulk of the tourists, for people-free scenery photos. We would be forced to linger here and at the gift-shop as their “Terrace restaurant” doesn’t open until 11:30am on the nose.

Its location is unique with a raised view overlooking their grape fields. However, with a sun shade draped over it, you don’t get an unobstructed view. That and if you are a table of two, only one person gets the face the fields. The other stares out at the property, with kids rolling down their lawn, that doubles as a “stadium” for live musical performances.

At “Terrace”, we enjoyed a lunch with two full entrees. Both were delicious, and surprisingly filling, but we had to pace ourselves because we would have a wine and cheese tasting to follow.

The “Fresh made tyner durum wheat orecchiette” was perfectly firm pasta with wild mushrooms, garden herbs, and triple island Parmesan. It and each menu item was listed with a suggested wine paring. But we discarded the option of a Pinot Noir and opted for a glass of their “Mission Hill” Pinot Gris instead.

The “Dry aged brisket burger and triple cooked fries” was a familiar flavour, but elevated with a thick and juicy, medium rare patty. Terrace pickles, aged cheddar, and double smoked bacon; all on a sesame seed bun. It was deliciously messy with plenty of jus and a patty that crumbled apart.

We enjoyed each other’s company and the view before heading indoors for our tour. You check in at their reception desk where you are given a pin designating your participation in the tour. Your guide greets you with a glass of sparkling to start. Then as a group you walk the property pausing at points of interest.

We began at the entrance, sipping amongst the vines, as she gave us the history of their grapes and its European origins. We then walked to the bell tower where we were told the significance of the bells that rang every 30 minutes. Four in the total, each representing the main family members. Visitors aren’t allowed up into the tower as the sound of the bells can be deafening. Instead you can take in a fifth bell that hangs on display below the tower. The intention was for it to join the others, but due to a small imperfection with its circumference it is now a bell you can rap your knuckles on and take photos of.

Next it was a walk down to their wine cellar, a scene that made the whole tour worth it. Here, under cool temperatures sat 800 barrels, each held 310 bottles of wine. We learned how the barrels were topped off and where the practice first began. It dated back to when they made wine and the barrels were transported by horse. However when the barrels got to their destination, half of the wine was always missing. And back then, they didn’t have the science to figure out why, so instead, they contributed it to angel’s drinking the wine. Though the reality was, it was just evaporating.

We took a peek behind the cast iron gate and large padlock that secured their oldest bottles and collection of historic vessels that once served wine. Urns, pots, and decanters. Here, we were told a tale of how they won the “2013 Decanter World Wine Awards” for their “2011 Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir”. A surprise to so many that they had to register and compete twice, and really work for their win. And with both blind taste tests, they won. People just couldn’t believe that wine made from grapes that is not local to Canada could win. And with that “Mission Hill” completed what they set out to do: to show the world that their wines could stand up in the international market.

Our tour ended at one of their salons, past the above mentioned award. Out of the 5 they have, this was my favourite. A glass room surrounded by wine barrels, centred around an extravagant white glass chandler with a majestic black table under it. We each sat at one end, and began grazing as our tour guide spoke to the pairings of local made cheeses and “Mission Hill” wines. A white, red, and dessert wine paired with a sharp, a creamy, and a blue cheese.

 

Then we ended in the gift shop, with her showing where we could find our own bottle to take home.

Truth be told, you can read all the above and more for yourself online, but being able to hear and interact with the space in a different way is a much better way to explore a winery.

Mission Hill Winery
1730 Mission Hill Rd, Okanagan Valley BC, V4T2E4
250-768-6467
missionhillwinery.com

Punch Bowl Festival 2019

This past weekend, on Saturday July 27th, Vancouver saw the first ever “Punch Bowl festival” come to life. This was a summer celebration of cocktails and spirits, under the sun at PNE’s fair ground. It was brought to you by the same folks who host “Hopscotch”, the scotch and spirits festival, every fall. It too is hosted at PNE’s, but in doors.

Today’s event was split into 2 parts, the daytime “tasting” from 12-3:30pm and the evening one from 5-8:30pm. The timed sessions allow vendors to restock in between and for more visitors to attend; with the evening spots selling out quick. I attended the afternoon one, as I prefer day drinking.

The sectioned off event is 19 plus so ID is require and guards are stationed to check them and ensure no one drinks too much. Thought at the prices they were charging, I don’t think that was a problem. The event runs on tokens, you need to purchase them in exchange for cash. At $1 a token (plus tax), taster sized drink offerings vary between $2-4. It is a great way to try new spirits and “bar hop” in the safety of a confided area, but I wish the prices were a little more reasonable. After all you are paying for entry, only water and the live entertainment is free. Anything you want to eat, taste, or try requires tokens; and if you don’t have cash on you, they charge you a fee to purchase them with either debit or credit.

As for the event itself, a series of tents snaked around the allocated grassy grounds. There were 50 plus vendors to explore, majority of which represents a brand of spirit, beer, or cider. The website mentions that “this isn’t a drinking festival but rather a tasting event where you can learn about how you, at home, can recreate the easy-to-make cocktails you see today” and invite you to “take the time to learn about the products, the bands, the drinks, etc.” However with the lines at the popular booths and the speed in which its attendants needed work, there wasn’t much time for dialogue between you and them. You simply read off their menu, pay, and walk away with drink in hand. At the less trafficked booth you were able to strike up a conversation.

Some vendors really followed through with their branding, putting forth elaborately decorated booths. These were the ones that drew the largest crowds and their money, myself included. “Beefeater London” gin was pretty in pink, mixing up muddled strawberry and orange cocktails.

And Ketel One Botanicals gave visitors a garden theme with the only cocktails severed in a plastic goblet, topped with a branded “K” stir stick. Cucumber & mint, grapefruit & rose, and peach & orange blossom vodka spritzers.

But out of all the little cups available, my favourite way to enjoy a cocktail at “Punch Bowl” was sucking on a mimosa freezie from the Cointreau booth. Even cut with mango & peach nectar sparkling wine this was not skimping out on any of the alcohol.

And to balance all the drinking, there were a few booths offering food. Including a few Vancouver chefs “showcasing their take on a west coast summer bbq” (as taken from their website).

Like B.K.H. grilling up their Singaporean style short ribs.

And bbq award winners “Smoke & Bones BBQ” and “Dixies BBQ” with their smoker. The two were competing to see who has the best ribs in the city. Guests were invited to try both at 12 tokens ($12 a plate) with sides like slaw and beans or coleslaw and potato salad. Then texting in their favourite of the two.

With so many booths to bounce around from, you could easily spend the afternoon drinking. Or simply lounging in their seating area, which included cushions under shade and wood games like corn hole and jenga.

In short, a successful new event that gave Vancouverites a unique setting to enjoy drinking and sun in one.

PUNCH BOWL
punchbowlfest.com

Superpower Dogs IMAX, Science World

This year I have already visited Science World a handful of times. On each occasion it was after hours and adult themed. So today it was a whole new experience visiting during a busy day in summer, with a toddler.

We came to watch their newest IMAX movie, “Superpower Dogs”, but definitely took advantage of being able to explore the dome before and after it. Our guide and leader today was a 3 year old little girl, the child of my friend. And today’s post will be written from her perspective, covering the exhibits and showcases she was most interested in.

I was surprised by how busy it was on a random Friday. There were several youth camps and tour groups running around. Although everyone was cordial for the most part. Majority of the children playing knew to wait their turn and their parents helped to organize shared play. It was the pre-teens in those tour groups that pushed their way through and walked without consideration of those below their knees. My friend admitted that it is because of this increase in traffic and the additional “big kids” present, that during the summer months she avoids such hubs.

Luckily there is a section just for little kids, and one that I never got to see until today. The area comes with stroller parking, in a “lot” that is humoursly sponsored by “Impark”. It has painted stall lines on the ground and meters on the wall for the full “parking lot” experience. And I never realized how many areas around Science World had such spaces to park your stroller at, and how convenient doing so is for a family.

Entry to this play area comes with a height restriction and a nod of approval from a volunteer, helping to regulate it and how many are within it. Once inside, our little leader was immediately drawn to the climbing structure that centred the place. A netted structure that allowed her to climb up a spiralling staircase, scale up a slide, and crawl through a levelled tower. We were able to watch her through the netting as she popped up now and again. She climbed up and down, around and around multiple times, which also helped to tire her out.

This and all the other experiences were labeled, educating parents and caregivers on how much such play helped the development of children. Here, it was how climbing allowed children to see from different vantage points. That their understanding of how others have different view points develop between the ages of 3-4.

She considered playing in the water area that included a dome that released smoke, with buttons to push that made taps run, and a bevy of water toys bobbing about. However, she much rather play alone or with her mother than have to interact or get close to other children.

So instead, we played with clear building blocks on a surface that was lit with transitioning lights. But mom and I had to start playing first for her to be enticed into joining.

Next, we headed to the movie. Grabbing some popcorn on the way. It isn’t popped fresh, but it is at least healthy. They use sunflower oil which is better for you, with 80% less saturated fat.

Heading up to the IMAX theatre was a trek, but our toddler loved it. Walking up and down on the carpeted ramp became a game. I chased her, she chased mom, mom and her chased me. This proved to be more fun for her than the movie itself.

I on the other hand fully loved the show. Though we sat closer to the bottom of the screen, and spent majority of the movie cranking our heads around to take it all in. I can only imagine how much our little viewer could see. Luckily it was only a 50 minute long movie, but it was fully entertaining.

“Superpower Dogs” was narrated by Chris Evans who played the voice of one of the dogs, Henry; introducing other equally impressive dogs to the viewer. Henry works out of BC. He and his human partner are sent in after an avalanche occurs at Whistler mountain. They are dropped off by helicopter and start sniffing out any bodies hidden under the snow. We then followed a puppy named Halo who would under go similar training that Henry did, to get certified for the search and rescue team with her partner/owner. We also met dogs that helped patrol the oceans of Italy, saving those who fall over board. We learning about their autonomy and how they were built for such endurance work. There was also a dog that surfed and helped people and children with PTSD and anxiety. I was most impressed by the dogs that helped to hunt illegal hunters and poachers on the plains of Africa, being able to track their scent for up to 5 days.

Overall, this was a really well shot and well produced movie. The large screen and multiple subwoofers helped to draw you into the experience with a 180 degree view. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, especially being a cat person. I learned so much, and would absolutely recommend it.

Next, it was slow enough to visit their feature exhibit, the Mirror Maze. But even with evenly timed entry intervals, it got crowded in the maze. It is already hard to find your way through with all the reflections, but more so as a smaller toddler, with those larger than you not seeing you. Although we were able to get out eventually.

We were able to pet, poke, and turn plenty in the nature exhibit, a science world staple and a section I myself remember visiting and enjoying when I was younger. Although as their staple exhibit that doesn’t change, I haven’t gone out of my way to return or go through it since. But for a toddler there was so much to see and do.

Wildlife pelts to pet, a scale to see how much you weight in comparison to other animals, and the memorable beaver damn that you can crawl into.

She especially loved the hollow tree that she and her mother could enter and climb together. And she marvelled at the wind machine, allowing her turn a wheel and direct where the wind blew and how the sand dunes in it were formed.

We also were interested in the bees flying in and out of science world and how they made honey.

She is at the age that loves balls, so spent the most time in the discovery area playing with them. We gathered rainbow balls and put them in to a series of tubes with streams of air that sends them through a maze of plastic, only to be shot out of it from the top. We spent the most time here chasing balls and gathering as many as we could

Then continued our ball play with the plastic ones in water. We threw them up and watched them slide down.

Around 4pm we were getting hungry and cranky, so mom knew it was time to go. But there was still so much to see and even more to do. There were also sections we didn’t get a chance to step into, so we complained and expressed how upset we were to leave. And in order to console us, we were told we would be able to return soon.

It was here, that I fully understood the appeal of an annual membership, and how Science World makes for a great afternoon for a young family. A place to go on a rainy day, or where you can to retreat to when it’s too hot and you need air conditioning. There is so much to see and do, with themed shows and live workshops, giving you plenty of reason to return often. For more information on the featured exhibits and all the IMAX movies available, or how you can get an annual pass for yourself, visit the link below.

SCIENCE WORLD at TELUS World of Science
1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 3Z7
scienceworld.ca
https://www.scienceworld.ca/

Dirty Apron, “Rising Tide” cooking class

Today I was attending a cooking class with Joyce of @monkeyeatsworld. Both of us weren’t well experienced in food preparation, so this “recreational cooking school” setting was perfect for us. And thankfully our instructor further spoke to this by letting us know that we were not here for a professional kitchen setting, and she wasn’t here training professional cooks.

They offer over 45 different themed classes. Italian, Thai, a class for meat lovers, and even ones for kids and teens only. Today’s class focused on seafood preparation, pairing it with bold flavours; two things we were both very unfamiliar with.

For the vlog version, and the realistic view of how we did replicating what we learned, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

The night begins with a welcome glass of bubbles. We drank and geared up in our “Dirty Apron” branded aprons with name tag, which you get to take home as a parting gift after. The class is three savoury courses that you prepare yourself, and concluded with ice cream that “Dirty Apron” makes themselves.

The instructor walks you through the process first, adding tidbits and cooking tips. Next you are sent to your station in pairs to replicate what you have just learned. Course by course you cook, then eat. Each course comes with an alcoholic beverage of your choosing. White or red wine, draft beer, and fruit cider. Your order is taken as you cook, and when you bring your creation into the dining area, your chosen glass is waiting for you. As you eat, their team clears and cleans your station, then prepares all the ingredients you’ll need for the next course after. Everything is measured out for you, all you need to do is open the container and pour its dry or wet ingredients out. Majority of such prep work is done for you, although there is some knife work required and the need to season to taste.

I won’t be going over the how to’s for each course, you will have to enrol and take it for yourself to learn these recipes. Instead, I will list a few interesting factoids and tips I have learned from our instructor during each course.

We started with the “pan roasted halibut in a vindaloo curry paste with deep fried curry leaves” The difference between Indian and other curries like south East Asian style curry is its use of powder and spices versus fresh ingredients grounded, like in Thai curry.

We were in the middle of halibut season so it was chosen as the white fish we were featuring. It also pairs well with stronger flavours, as it isn’t a fish that over powers. You sear the presentation side, aka the “pretty side”, the one that is nice and white for an even golden brown colour. Anything missed can be hidden behind a cilantro garnish. This course is served with naan bread that they pre-make for you. In Indian cuisine naan is a yeast bread with tang, prepared in a tandoori oven.

Next, we prepared “pan seared scallops and prawns with cauliflower in a espellette butter sauce”. This course was served with bread, it was my favourite of the three courses we prepared. Joyce is lactose allergic so any time we were asked to use butter we substituted it with coconut oil, or opted out of using it all together.

When it comes to selecting scallops, the pinky-orange coloured ones are the females and they are often sweeter. Their colouring comes from the roe inside them, present before they spawn. When preparing your scallops you need to remove its overly chewy side muscle. It should come off easily with a peel.

Similarly, when preparing your prawns you want to remove their shells, and run your knife through them, to devein their intestinal tracks. Some shrimp farmers have their crop fast before harvest, so that their intestinal tracks are clean and you need not devein them. Ours were clean, but we still took the time to remove them. This should always be the case for any larger shrimp you use.

A quick and easy way to mince garlic is, when you have much of it collected on your blade, you press and smear it off on to your chopping board and repeat your knife motion from here. And speaking of knives we were taught how to hold each and directed on the proper way to curl our fingers when chopping.

When searing you scallops, avoid over cooking by pressing into them to see if they bounce back, over cooked scallops are tough like rubber. If they are translucent at its centre, it needs a longer sizzle on the pan. But shrimp cook quick. When done they turn white and curl up. And with our sauce we were taught how to balance fat and butter or cream with lemon juice.

Our final course was “zatar pan seared salmon steak in a persevered lemon brown butter sauce”, served with a premade babaganosh. The babaganosh is prepared a head of time because it takes an hour plus to bake the eggplant needed so that it purées well. They also pre-grilled the eggplant chunks we needed for the side of zaalouk salad, this too was to save time.

 

The best way to carve a thick piece off of a whole salmon is with a bread knife. You tie the pieces together, to help keep it at one similar shape, and to help cook it evenly. You want to pan sear the salmon steak to medium rare. Once cooked, you remove its centre bone. This is also a good way to tell if it is cooked through, if the bone comes out easily.

For garnish, parsley stems are actually more flavourful than the leaves. People don’t know that you can use them and they end up throwing the most flavourful bits away. We also learned how to preserve their own lemons. Myer lemons are packed in salt with lemon juice, and after two months you can eat the rinds, and they are not as bitter. And Zatar is a Middle Eastern spice blend consisting of thyme, sumac, sesame, coriander, and and fennel. Sumac is a purple weed with a sour quality, using it helps to balance out all the other flavours.

Our meal ended with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzled over in maple syrup. And a bar of coffee or tea you can help yourself to.

After the class you are invited to fill out a questionnaire on how they can improve their classes. Doing so enters you into a monthly draw where you can win a free cooking class. This was followed by an invitation to visit their adjacent delicatessen. There, a collection of seasonings used today is available for purchase at 10% off. There is also frozen food and canned goods for purchase.

In summary, this was a really great class thanks to our charismatic instructor. She kept things lively and interjected humour. She checked in with each student, and was encouraging in her feedback. She really made the class, giving us a great way to experience all that “Dirty Apron” has to offer. More than just a cafe, they are a deli, a catering company, and a cooking school; with a second location at the airport, and a second cook book coming out soon. For more on the classes available and what they are all about visit the link below.

DIRTY APRON
540 Beatty Street, Vancouver BC, V6B2N7
604-879-8588
dirtyapron.com

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