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Uncorked: A Celebration of the Science of Wine

I am really impressed by and excited for all the new and interesting ways Science World is bringing in more guests to the dome. More than just a place for exploration, geared towards children; they are now hosting a lot more adult themed events, later in the evening as well. I especially like the ones that combine drinking with learning; and their latest venture is one such program.

For the first time this fall, Science World teamed up with five of British Columbia’s most acclaimed wineries to “uncork” the science behind their incredible wines that we enjoy. Mission Hill Family Estate, CedarCreek Estate Winery, CheckMate Artisanal Winery, Martin’s Lane Winery, and Road 13 Vineyards were all on site.

The night was a self guided tour, you explored tables and chatted with vendors at your leisure. There were also 4 different seminars to take in throughout the night. Despite the limited release of tickets, the space filled up fast and lines formed quick. The conversation and queries did slow down the pouring. So for those interested in next year’s event, and will be attending with a more informative slant, I highly suggest coming by early. The goal is to hit your favourite wineries first and quick, before it gets busy with a thirsty crowd. A crowd that is here to drink at a one of a kind setting (much like myself).

At the “Mission Hill Family Estate” booth, winemaker Ben Bryant showcased wines from their award winning: 2019 ‘Canadian Winery of the Year.

Winemarker Taylor Whelan was here representing “CedarCreek Estate Winery” and their three decades of winemaking history in the Okanagan. He was speaking to their estate-grown, organically farmed wines.

 

“CheckMate Artisanal Winery” and winemaker Philip McGahan spoke to harnessing the effects of climate change to produce Canada’s first-ever, perfect, 100-point score for a table wine.

“Martin’s Lane Winery’s winemaker Shane Munn uses gravity to produce the exceptional wines that have captured the ‘World’s Best Pinot Noir’ trophy in London.

At the “Road 13 Vineyards” table, General Manager Joe Luckhurst was pouring their award-winning wines, as the winner of the 2018 ‘Canadian Winery of the Year’.

And together, through seminars, tastings, and hands-on activities, these renowned winemakers and viticulturists showcased the science, craftsmanship, and terroir that make Okanagan wines so extraordinary.

And because what is drink without food? – to pair with all your drink tasters, chefs from two of the region’s best estate restaurants: “Terrance” (Mission Hill) and “Home Block” (CedarCreek) were on hand, serving samples of their cuisine, assembled to order.

From “Terrance” there was a “Wild boar shoulder and pine mushroom” dish with white bean and coriander. For the vegetarians they left out the boar and the dish ate like a cassoulet. There also offered a sweet corn and scallop chowder, but unfortunately I missed out on capturing and tasting it.

From “Homeblock” they were assembling a “pork, veal, and beef polpette” with orzo, parmesan, and gremolata. Saucy and comforting, it made for a wonderful pair with all the reds I was drinking.

I really liked the “potato, comte, sage, and onion tart”, finished off with truffled estate honey. Flaky pastry with a fragrant centre. In hindsight, I should have went back for seconds.

For something more refreshing, the “seared and marinated halloumi” ate like a salad. Mixed greens tossed with beets, blood orange, fennel, olives, and parsley; and finished off with a generous slab of the semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk.

And for those looking for a place to rest, there was a sparkling wine lounge to relax in. A series of couches over looking a bar, with multiple bottles of sparkling from various wineries. I just wished there was a seminar or exhibition here, something more to speak to this specific subsection of wine.

For more action attendees could bid on a silent auction, test their taste buds through blind tastings, and get their hands dirty with science activities developed by the Science World team.

But as for the seminars, they started on the hour, every hour. We were only able to take in 3 out of the 4 and following is the recap of each. “Synthesis: The Science of Blending Wine”, “Evolution: The Science of Aging Wine”, “Innovation: Technology and the Modern Organic Vineyard”, and “Terroir: The Science of Soil”.

At “Synthesis: The Science of Blending Wine” we were given a crash course in blending our own mixed red, by one of “Mission Hill’s” wine markers. She declared it the most exciting part of her job. She gets to take all different kinds of components and meld them together to make the best product she can. Blending helps to create distinctive wines with complex textures and flavours that reflect specific varietals and vineyards. We learned about the decisions that are made during blending, then got to try it ourselves, first had.

Seated in a classroom setting we were each given four reds to work with. The Cab sab was described as a structural wine. The Syrah a fragrant wine with blueberries and spice notes; it is the 2nd most used, dominant varietal. The Cab franc had fine tenants and herbal notes with crush herbs. And the merlot made for a good base with its use of beautiful red fruit.

The challenge was to recreate their “2016 Quatrain” blend through mixing and tasting. So with a syringe and a beaker we sent about siphoning our mix, taking into consideration that different vineyard sites will taste different, and that the barrels used will also effect the outcome. Both points we would dive more into through our next two seminars.

At “Evolution: The Science of Aging Wine” seminar we dove into the science of aging and the use of vessels to do it. Wine changes continuously as it moves from grape to bottle, and even more so within the bottle. We learned how the various techniques and vessels used to age it, as well as the passage of time, affects the resulting wine. Then, what causes the distinct aromas and flavours that characterizes a fine wine. When preparing wine and allowing it to ferment, your choice in vessel and its composition makes a big difference. Stainless steel, French oak, concrete, or ceramic and clay. How long the wine stays inside, and if it will spend additional time within another vessel after, makes a difference.

Our hosts and expert wine makers from “CheckMate Artisan winery” and “Cedar Creek” spoke to their favourite techniques for fermentation and shared their personal experiences. How each vessel used needs to be breathable so that gas can be exchanged. And that the tighter the grain is in wood, the more it slows down the oxygen exchange. This leads to a longer and slower aging process, which also tends to be more costly. We also learned that the main difference between a concrete “egg” or steel tub is temperature. Concrete can absorb heat, leading to moderate fermentation. Its lowered temperature allows more time for fermentation extraction. And the difference between aging wine in barrels or concrete is tradition and how much carbon dioxide is able to seep in. With 4 inches of concrete, air is slower to seep into wine when using a concrete vessel. Therefore, wine earns most of its flavour from maturing in a wooden barrel.

We then got to try the difference that said vessels made. As we sipped and swirled, we learned about “aromatic retentions”, and getting the flavour of the fruit you put into it. Our next round of tasters had us trying more fermented wines using wild yeast. The first was pure fermentation in stainless steel, which does not have a flavour to rub off on to the wine. The second glass had the same wine and grapes, but it tasted much different due to the influences from the barrel that was used to complete its fermenting on.

Then it was off to our last seminar of the night. “Terroir” is the “The Science of Soil”. Ancient volcanic and glacial soils, combined with the unique climate of the Okanagan Valley, makes it one of the “last great undiscovered wine regions the world”. And here, we were able to learn how the multitude of soil types found throughout the valley impacts the vines. Thus resulting in incredible wines with distinct character. For this workshop, both of our presenters travelled all the way from the Okanagan, where they work and live out of Kelowna. Collectively they are responsible for grapes grown on the northern part of Okanagan, Naramata, and Lake Country.

We discussed different soil types, and since this was a hands on seminar, we got to touch jars of it, rolling fine grains and rocky chunks between our fingers. And as we handled dirt we learned about the difference it can make to your crop between sand, silt, and clay. Each has a different mineral make up, which the roots take with them, up into the fruit. Ie: the soil found closer to lakes is of finer particles. The ground at higher elevations is more rock. And a good glass of Pinot noir can reveal how good it is and where it is grown through its taste.

Sadly we didn’t have the time to capture the last seminar on our list, “Innovation: Technology and the Modern Organic Vineyard”. This workshop was a discussion on precision organic farming and the use of state-of-the-art technology. It spoke to how technology is affecting traditional practices, and creating an improved crop as a result. Ie: drones in the vineyard.

In conclusion, this was a great event and one that I hope they repeat again next year, and the years to come. “Uncorked” effectively brought the Okanagan to the city, with a showcase that spoke to the bounty of BC’s wine country. Plus, consumers these days are very concerned about how their food and drinks are being produced and what goes into each. So here, Science World offered the platform and the opportunity to learn more about wine; allowing you to appreciate your next glass more. I highly recommend attending next year’s “Uncorking”, and making an effort to sit in on all of the seminars if you can. Not only do you get to learn so much more in a classroom setting. But they are also not short on wine, meaning you need not push your way through a crowd to get some.

Uncorked: A Celebration of the Science of Wine
Thursday, November 14
7–10 pm
Science World at TELUS World of Science
1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver

Tickets $89 from scienceworld.ca/uncorked

The Golden Owl Awards 2019

Tonight I was invited down to the “Rocky Mountaineer Station” for the 12th annual “Golden Owl Awards”, an award dedicated to the hospitality industry.

Its origins are with the “Vancouver Nightlife Awards”, starting in 2004. From there it steadily grew to become “the most anticipated industry event in Vancouver”, (as taken from their website). And in 2016, it evolved into what it is today, “The Golden Owl Awards”, highlighting the best of Vancouver’s hospitality industry. The award allows the industry leaders and trailblazers to recognize one another through a night of heavy drinking and playful poking of fun towards one another. It also brings together many of Vancouver’s hospitality owners, managers, and staff; under one roof for a dressed up and festive evening.

The Golden Owl Hospitality Awards winners are voted on by both public and industry panel voters. Public voters represent a 40% weight and the industry panel has as 60% weigh in. Industry Panelists are not allowed to vote in any categories that are in a conflict of interest with. This panel was first brought in for the 2012 showcase, after they felt it was needed to curb the “popularity” vote. Having a panel that determines each winner with a 60% weight curbs the ability for nominees to campaign. Therefore those who win do so because they focus on being the best at their jobs, rather than campaigning for votes from the public.

The rules to being nominated are as follows. (All taken from their official Golden Owl website)

  • All establishments must have been open for at least ONE year, or if they have moved into a new establishment, their previous establishment under the same name must have been open for at least ONE year, EXCEPT for Best New Destination.
  • Best New Destination must have opened between September 15, 2018 and September 14, 2019
  • All establishments or businesses must be located within the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD).
  • All Events must have taken place between September 15, 2018 and September 19, 2018
  • All Managers, Bar Personalities and Breakout Artist of the Year must live within the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), and Artists must have performed at least three (3) times within the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD).
  • Managers and Bar Personalities must have employed between September 15, 2018 and September 14, 2019
  • Social Event of the Year is not a music based festival or based around a band, DJ or a group of entertainers and had a minimum attendance of 750 people.
  • DJ Event of the Year is an actual DJ performance, not an overall music festival, though the DJ performance can have taken place at a music festival, night club, or other venue.
  • All establishment nominees in the following categories: Best Late Night Lounge, Best Hotel Lounge and Best Pub must serve food, beer and liquor.
    Best Atmosphere includes restaurants, lounges, pubs, brewery tasting lounges and serves food and/or beer and liquor.
  • Best New Destination includes restaurants, brewery tasting lounges, hotel lounges and nightclubs.
  • Best Subculture Venue has a focus on culture, be it music, food or beyond.
  • Best Live Music Venue can be a multi-function venue, but has a primary focus of booking live music acts to perform that serves beer and/or liquor.
  • Best Pub does not charge a cover for entry except for special events.

Guests and nominates are invited into the open space to mix and mingle before the award show. The red carpet is rolled out and attendees in their glitziest finery are photographed against a back drop of sponsors.

Art work is on display and there are corners and high top tables for guests to linger at. Event mascots, the “Owlets” greet guests and pose for photos, in light up masks and golden body suits.

Deeper inside the open space with its valeted ceilings and sky high windows, guests are able to roam the room freely. There are a handful of cash bars and liquor brands offering samples to help you loosen up and to set the mood. Take a shot of “Ole Smoky Tennessee moonshine”, try Nude’s latest low calorie drink, or mix Red Bull’s newest seasonal flavour into a cocktail with a help yourself toppings bar.

To mark the occasion a photo booth allowed you to take a photo and customize its frame.

And as VIPs we were given access to the VIP lounge that included coat check, and booths to sample from drink tickets. Behind the partition local beer and spirit companies traded tasters in a plastic reusable cups for vouchers; like “Phillips Brewing” and “Long Table Distillery”.

There was also a seating area with geometric furnishings to linger on. When time, we all gathered before the stage for the main event. Our emcee of the night began by poking fun at the industry’s stereotypes, and followed it up with the commemoration of establishments that have closed down to big disappointment this year.

Then one by one all the categories, their nominees, and winners were declared by a host of presenters. Winners walked to the stage to receive their wooden plaque, and say a few words. And when the show was done everyone piled into party buses to continue the festivities and celebrations well into the night, downtown. I wasn’t able to linger all that much longer, as it was a Monday and I had work the next day. But for the industry and many tonight, this Monday evening was the lead in, into their weekend.

The following is a recap of the award winners and the runner ups. But for more on how you can vote for next year’s nominees, and may be even attend 2020’s gala night, visit their website at https://www.goldenowlawards.com/

BEST ATMOSPHERE
The Parlour
Runner Up: Como Taperia

BEST HOTEL LOUNGE
The Lobby Lounge – Fairmont Pacific Rim
Runner Up: Reflections – Rosewood Hotel Georgia

BEST PUB
Alibi Room
Runner Up: The Blackbird Public House

BEST BARTENDING PERSONALITY
Katie Ingram – Elisa
Runner Up: Robyn Gray – Rosewood Hotel Georgia

BEST LATE NIGHT LOUNGE
The Keefer
Runner Up: Granville Room

BEST SUBCULTURE VENUE
Open Studios
Runner Up: The Beaumont Studios

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE
The Commodore Ballroom
Runner Up: Fortune Sound Club

BEST NEW DESTINATION
Hotel Belmont
Runner Up: Como Taperia

MANAGER OF THE YEAR
James Langford-Smith – Kissa Tanto
Runner Up: Geordie Howes – Fortune

NIGHTCLUB OF THE YEAR
Fortune Sound Club
Runner Up: Hello Goodbye

BREAKOUT ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Manila Grey
Runner Up: JUNK!

DJ EVENT OF THE YEAR
Skratch Bastid – Bastid’s BBQ
Runner Up: Skrillex – Contact

SOCIAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
Vancouver Craft Beer Week
Runner Up: Deighton Cup

BEST PATIO EXPERIENCE
Reflections – The Garden Terrace
Runner Up: The Local Gastown

BEST DISTILLERY EXPERIENCE
Long Table Distillery
Runner Up: Sons of Vancouver Distillery

BEST SERVICE EXPERIENCE
Chambar
Runner Up: Bao Bei

BEST COMEDY EXPERIENCE
Yuk Yuks
Runner Up: Sunday Service Fox Cabaret

BEST FOOD EXPERIENCE
Download Chicken Shack
Runner Up: Como Taperia

BEST COCKTAIL EXPERIENCE
The Shameful Tiki Room
Runner Up: Keefer Bar

BEST BRUNCH EXPERIENCE
Medina
Runner Up: Jam Cafe Beatty Street

BEST BREWERY EXPERIENCE
Brassneck Brewery
Runner Up: Strathcona Beer Company

RESTAURANT GROUP OF THE YEAR
Toptable Restaurant Group
Runner Up: Kitchen Table Restaurants

Scandinave Spa Bubble Bath, Cornucopia 2019

This weekend my girl friend and I were in Whistler, here to celebrate her birthday, as well as attend “Cornucopia” for the very first time. “Cornucopia” is Whistler’s fall food and drink festival. Combining the two made the weekend all the more fun, and topping it with a spa experience at Scandinave spa was the cherry on top.

“Scandinave Spa” was hosting a “Bubble bath”, and we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to be drinking bubbles when being surrounded by them. Although you can’t actually bring your drink to the pools (for safety reasons). However, the ability to visit the infamous spa at night was an experience in itself. But this was a party with guests lounging about the foyer in robes, sipping on unlimited bubbles, snacking on canapés, and bopping along to the jazzy sounds of @lovejennamae singing and playing guitar live.

I know you aren’t supposed to go into the water until 15 minutes after you have eaten, but who can resist this pairing? This it is the stuff goals are made off. The event was a self directed experience, you mixed and mingled either outdoors in the pools or by the fire pits, or indoors at the bar and by the fireplace. There was plenty to do in either arenas, with the ability to socialize. During regular spa sessions there is no talking allowed, tonight guests were more loud and rowdy with the drinks.

The ticket price included access to their exclusive hydrotherapy bath, towels, and robe rentals. At the pools, you are able to carry out your usual spa routine. Following the intermittent hot and cool soaks, plus rest. This is recommend for its traditional Scandinavian healing properties. Here you could gather by the roaring fire pits, swing on one of their hammocks, or get a chill from the stone benches and/or lounge chairs. For something more warmer, there was plenty to lie on indoors, in one of the solariums.

At this temperature and time of day it is easy to identify which are the hot or cold pools. Smokey and mysterious these hot pools was where we flocked to.

Indoors, attendees enjoyed glasses of bubbles from “Haywire Winery”. They were onsite pouring their traditional method sparkling wine, “The Bub” and their “2013 Vintage Bub”. The “Bub” is a bottle fermented and aged using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Grapes grown on cool vineyard sites in Oliver and Summerland. The result, a fresh warming wine with a nice crisp green apple finish. And the “Vintage Bub” was crowned the Winner of Cornucopia 2019’s top bubble award. You were able to try both and enjoy as many refills of either as your heart desired, (just done with moderation and the sake of health and self in mind.)

And as you sipped, you were able to sample from a collection of savoury and sweet canapés that travelled the room. The following were prepared by the “Collective Kitchen” catering team. Everything was delicious. It kept us well fed, yet refreshing and light. Perfect for the pressure to look as thin as possible in your bathing suit. That and it all paired well with our two wine options above.

A curry cashew cream with dukkah. “Dukkah” is combination of nuts, seeds, and ground spices. Together with the cream this morsel was like a little chip, already topped with dip.

The shrimp with salsa verde was a group favourite. Served on a skewer and drizzled with zesty and tangy salsa for an extra refreshing flavour profile.

A slice of cucumber is used as a base for mango salsa, jade radish, and sun choke chips. Another bright bite full of textures to chew through.

I liked the crab with mango cucumber salsa on a potato terrine, and its heartier bite with a caramelized finish.

The Kushi oysters with its persimmon minuet were delicious and memorable.

I also enjoyed the bacon and blue cheese biscuit with avaocado cream and heirloom tomato and radish. The distinct flavour of tangy blue cheese coupled with a sweet salty bacon was noteworthy.

But my favourite canapé was the albacore tuna with leeks on a nori, sesame and squid cracker. Absolutely delicious.

And for dessert, a quarter of a lime tart with huckle berry jam and blackberry garnish was passed around. Luscious and creamy, tangy with citrus and dark berries; it made for a great palate refresher.

So here, we took our time, eating and sipping, all while listening to the live musical stylings of acoustic singer, Jennamae Webb. She took pop hits and top 40’s songs and spun them in her own bluesy soulful sound. She even took on our suggestion/request of hip hop songs done in the same fashion.

In short, this was a whole new way to experience the spa. And I would highly anticipate going back again next year, whist recommending it to everyone else, and anyone already a fan of the property. Scandinave at night, retooled as a pj party with adult beverages was a hit!

But for more on Cornucopia, and how you can attend next year’s occasion, visit the link below. https://whistlercornucopia.com/

For the vlog version of this event and the recap of our weekend drinking, check out my latest video, now upon my YouTube Channel: MaggiMei.

“The Corridor” with Yew + Sidecut, Cornucopia 2019

We were here for the first weekend of Cornucopia 2019, Whistler’s fall food and drink festival. This is my first time attending the illustrious event. With two week long seminars, tastings, and dinners to attend, it is hard to choose your favourite.

We started the weekend off with a fantastic dinner at the “Four Season Whistler’s” restaurant, “Sidecut”. The restaurant featured several large wooden stumps refurbished into furniture. It gave it a polished rustic feel, alongside the wood floors and stone pillars. We grabbed a seat on one of their high top tables in the lounge. We were early so took the time to take in the bar’s offerings by way of a couple of their custom cocktails. Your drink options are attractively displayed on their elegant menu. High resolution photos of beverages and glasses that told a story through ingredients and presentation; arranged by geographic area.

My guest went “Northeast” for the “Fujisan Highball”. Jonnie Walker Black, yuzu and green apple, Cascade celery bitters, balsam fir and soda. Its glass is decorated with pine and a feather held in place with twine. Inspired by Japan’s flora landscape, the refreshing cocktail is finished with two spurts of pine scent. And with it came the ability to breathe in the drink before tasting it.

I went Southeast with the “Peak me up”, inspired by South Africa’s soil and its ability to grow quality coffee, bananas, and spices. The very crops that found its way into this cocktail, with great depth. Spiced Bulleit bourbon, artichoke amaro and banana, coconut flowers, cold brew Tanzanian coffee, and Moondog Latin bitters. Great for coffee lovers with the smooth bourbon in tow. Spiced with warmth and finished off with a beautifully sweet caramelized banana slice. So easy and enjoyable to drink, that it felt more like dessert.

We followed both up with a shot of their house gin. Made unique with its blue hue derived from butterfly pea flower. Distilled exclusively for the “Four Seasons Whistler’s”, by “Okanagan Spirits”. An easy drinking gin that went from blue to purple with the addition of tonic water or a squeeze of citrus.

When time, we transitioned to a reception in the dining room. Where, we joined all the other diners here for dinner. We greeted one another and spoke to the excitement of things to come. Clinking glasses of “Fort Berens” sparking rose. For each course to come, the perfect bottle of “Fort Berens” wine came with it.

When time, we all took out seats. Nothing is assigned so it’s first come first served. But those who found their way to the centre of the room were treated to a front row view of our hosts of the night. We were introduced to the Chefs of “Yew” and “Sidecut”, each explaining what course they were bringing to this dinner. Executive Chef Eren Guryel from “SIDECUT Modern Steak + Bar”, and Restaurant Chef Evan Morgan from “YEW seafood + bar”. This would be last collaboration between the two properties, seeing as the Vancouver location will be closing down next year.

Named “The Corridor”, the menu was a journey up the Sea to Sky Corridor (the very route that we took to get us to Whistler today); from Vancouver to Lillooet. And it promised to “take you through 163.13kms of taste”.

We began with a Kusshi Oyster from the oceans around BC, topped with Northern Divine Caviar, as our amuse bouche. A single, perfectly shucked raw oyster sitting of a bed of seaweed, smoky from liquid nitrogen. Quite the presentation, it is just a shame that the smoke was lost under the dim lights.

To pair with it we enjoyed the “Fort Berens” Reserve Riesling 2018. This was a dry white with an beautiful intensity. During its production, the temperature is dropped low, giving it a distinct petroleum nose.

For our next course came another Réservé Riesling. The 2017 vintage was very different due to the warmer weather that year, and the little crop that they yielded. The grapes were very ripe, so the wine turned out with much intensity and an increased sweetness.

Our second course was a single “Dungeness Crab Raviolo”, so good that it left you wanting more with its celeriac cream and Golden Ears Neufchatel. A firm round of stuffed pasta, sitting in a sauce that ate like a creamy chowder. Beautifully done.

Our next glass was a Chardonnay Réservé, that they called “White gold”. 100% of it was made in oak barrels through natural fermentation, and not by artificial yeast. The result is oaky with a rich nose, but not in an overwhelming way.

The Chardonnay elevated the “Lightly Smoked BC Salmon”, which brought our food journey to Howe Sound. An enticing plate with White Dashi, Charred Cucumber, Puffed Grains, Ginger Oil, and Winter Greens. It was a deliciously caramelized sashimi-like salmon with a spicy mayo cream and crispy bites to round out the mouth feel.

Next in our glass was the “Fort Berens Red Gold 2014”, the name, a nod to Lillooet and its connection to gold rush. It is made by drying grapes for weeks in a drying shed, where it lose 30% of the moisture, and it begins to slowly ferment. A medium bodied red, perfect with the steak it was paired with.

Taking us to Pemberton/Cache Creek was our fourth course: “Organic Grass Fed Beef Striploin” served with Pemberton potatoes, and a Cabernet Franc Jus. It was a perfectly cooked, medium rare steak. Juicy and lean with a little bit of fat at either ends. The vegetables with it were hearty and buttery, ideal in rounding out the plate.

Our last glass brought us back to white. The “Light Harvest Riesling” had great acidity, well balanced with sweetness. Its honey notes were akin to our final course: a honey themed dessert.

A “Honey tart” with Honey cremeux, peach jam, pistachio-honey financier, chai crust, peach-Hydromel sorbet, and bee Honey tuile. This marked the end of our Corridor journey at Lillooet. Each element of the dessert featured honey from Lillooet, a milder honey that wasn’t too sweet. This was a fresh dessert with gingerbread-like spices and soften peach. It was a well crafted, and engaging to pick though. I especially enjoyed pulling the almond wings from the candy bees.

Our meal took us from “ocean to alpine” and was immensely well executed. Diner’s definitely got their money’s worth from this. Nothing disappointed and I was sad to see it end.

The experience had me wanting to return to taste from their regular menu. And making plans to do so sooner because “Sidecut” will be introducing their winter menu the first week of December, and it will include a savoury apes ski high tea tower. They worked with an local artists to build a special display to showcase the likes of beef sliders and truffle fries, anything comforting you’d want after a great afternoon of skiing. And all well paired with an outlandishly decked out Caesar.

Worth also noting is the hotel property’s court yard. Here, you can gather around their roaring fire pit and toast some marshmallows on sticks. All while make-believing that you are camping with their own camper in tow.

Both only added to my desire to come back to whistler soon, and next time stay at the “Four Seasons”. And apparently if you do so in one of their residents suites, you have the option of ordering their crockpot dinner. You choose between beef, lamb, or chicken which includes all the accompanying vegetables. You simply order it on the hotel’s app, and it will be waiting for you in your suite. The rich smells of a slow cooking stew greeting you, and offering you a unique, homely touch.

In short this was a great event, one that I would recommend, along with a visit, if not stay at “Four Seasons”. But for more on Cornucopia, and how you can attend next year’s occasion, visit the link below. https://whistlercornucopia.com/

For the vlog version of this event and the recap of our weekend drinking, check out my latest video, now upon my YouTube Channel: MaggiMei.

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

Passions 2019, Vancouver’s best small food & wine gala

This past week marked the 16th annual “Passions” fundraiser. A night where local chefs and philanthropists come together to raise much needed funds for the Dr. Peter Aids Foundation. Through such efforts they are able to supply nutritious and much needed food for those in our community suffering from HIV/AIDS, mental illness, housing insecurity, and various substance use disorders. Each year they prepare approximately 96,000 meals for approximately 500 people. Everyone enrolled in the program has access to quality food twice a day. Enough to ensure that they meet their daily nutrient requirements, which is critical in helping with all or any “hefty medication regime”. The result, a program that boasts the best food for any social service program, anywhere. Through all their sponsors and all the donations, 100% of the funds raised went directly to the the foundation, which was a record-breaking $220,000 plus!

The night featured many of Vancouver’s best chefs and mixologists, living up to its reputation as “Vancouver’s best small food & wine gala”. The following is a recap of the night, as I ate and drank my way though all the offerings, and contributed to the good cause myself.

Held at “Performance Works” on Granville Island, the space was expanded and set up to host over 20 restaurants as individual tables, with stations to cook and assemble their small bites. As VIPs we were given earlier access to the event. An hour more to take in the food without crowds, and an hour more to drink; starting with a welcome glass of sparkling.

For the recap of the night through video, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

The following are the chefs and the restaurants they represent, as I ate through it all. To be honest with all the mingling and sampling, I didn’t get a chance to fully taste, critique, and take notes; so will only offer descriptions of what I can recall and that which stood out. But over all, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like, it was all dynamic, creative, and easy to eat as finger food.

Chef Richard Valverde was here representing “Ancora”. He brought with him an interactive “Manila clam ceviche shooter”. Made with aji amarillo leche de Tigre, and crispy quinoa. You stir it up, lick the rim, and take the fulsome contents down the throat in one go. Served cold, it was spiced well with citrus zest, and chewy with seafood.

Chef Hidekazu Tojo himself was on site, and as charming as ever. He remixed sushi with a duo of “smoked sablefish temari” and “geoduck gunkan”. No seaweed, but thinly sliced squash and cucumber used as a wrap with sushi rice instead. He called it “healthy”.

Chef Andrew Richardson from “Cin Cin” served up a vegetarian option in their “golden and chioggia beet salad” with whipped ricotta, smoked orange vinaigrette and pistachios. Fresh beets, salty cheese, crunchy nuts, and a light citrus dressing to bring it all together.

Chef Eva Chin from “Blvd” had “melon gazpacho” with lemon verbena, and variations of melon and fennel; served in little plastic cups with little plastic spoons. A cool, thinner soup, with a refreshing finish.

From “Copper Chimney” Chef Valentino Pereira had “quinoa chaat bites” with an avocado tamarind mousse. A crispy fried shell hiding a creamed centre, with additional crunch from the bed of puffed rice.

Chef Lee Cooper from “L’Abattoir” had a lovely “smoked duck breast” with beetroot and preserved blueberries. It was well balanced with fatty salty meat and sweet fruit.

“West’s” Bobby Milheron had a “geoduck tostada” topped with pickled Fresno chilli, green romesco, and cilantro. A crispy lime-forward snack to crunch on.

Chef Subir Ghosh from “Arc” had “pork rilletes” with fermentation vegetables and black mustard. A crusty crostini spread over generously with a chunk meat paste for a sour, tangy, and peppery two bites.

Chef Welbert Choi of “Forage” was serving up perfectly rounded “bison short rib arancini” balls in a chanterelle mushroom cream with rutabaga. A crispy fried battered ball of tender meat, fully flavoured with the distinct flavour of the chanterelle. Delicious.

Soon to open North Vancouver Restaurant, “Cantina Norte” was making their “Passions” debut with a fresh seafood ceviche from their chef, Jeremy Mitchell. Fresh shrimp, scallops, and white fish in citrus and aromatic herbs. Served on a flour tortilla chip with a spicy avocado mousse. This was my favourite ceviche interpretation of the night. The harder base made the seafood lighter and chewier for a nice contrast, and the spicy avocado mousse finished it off wonderfully.

“The Observatory” at Grouse Mountain had Chef Jack Chen on site offering up a “Chicken terrine” with cured egg yolk and a buttermilk sauce. A little dry, but very tasty with the yolk and peppery sauce.

A “Passions” regular Jean-Francis Quaglia was here representing his restaurant, “Provence”, with a “duck confit ballottine” and pickled BC cherries. The salty duck and sweet cherry were a great contrasting coupling, I just wanted something doughy to go with it.

I really liked the meaty canapé from “Notch8’s” Chef Dennis Peckham”. A “dry aged tataki” dressed with black pepper ponzu, spiced peanut, furikake, and shisho. Meat, bread, cream, and greens gathered together for a balanced bite.

“Market by Jean-Georges” has Chef Ken Nakano on location with “soy braised wagyu beef cheeks. Served on an airy fried prawn cracker, with a sweet and only slightly spicy Asian pear kimchi. Another meaty canapé I enjoyed, especially the prawn cracker that takes me back to my childhood.

Chef Marty Ra of “Pacific Yacht Charters” offered a hearty “Cambodian lemon chicken terrine” with a coconut lime foam, puffed rice, and cilantro. A little on the dense side, but tropical in flavour and fun in textural combinations.

“Honey Salt’s” Chef Jason Harper had a playful presentation for his “duck yolk gel”. It is best a mini cone to bite into, rather than lick from. Topped with orange segment, chive shallot, and a foie gras mousse it was salty and meaty, and the cone offered a neutral base.

“Joe Fortes’” Wayne Sych had a simple yet elegant plate of “smoked sablefish” served with a sweet potato hummus as a sauce, and pita crisps as a base. Wonderfully crafted, with great flavours and textures that went well together.

Chef Chris Andraza from “Fanny Bay Oysters” prepared a “smoked scallop ceviche” seasoned with chilli and citrus, served with a chunk salsa and pita chip strips for crunch.

“Minami” had Chef Alan Ferrer toasting up “aburi salmon oshi sushi” on the spot. Pressed wild sockeye salmon, jalapeño, and their trademark mayo-based Miku sauce. A menu staple and one I came back for, for seconds. Each piece also came with “Albacore tuna and kaiso seaweed tartare”. Beautifully prepared, but a little bland by comparison. Even with the spicy ponzu vinaigrette, wasabi creme fraiche, and a sesame wonton crisp.

Pastry Chef Betty Hung from “Beaucoup Bakery” had the only dessert of the evening: a “Plum and mascarpone verrinne” with a spiced plum compote, mascarpone mousse, and a hazelnut sable. It was a lighter offering, not too sweet or too dense. A great palette refresher and a nice end to all the food before it. Tasty with refreshing fruit and a salty cream to lap up with syrupy compote. It was best with the cookie garnish, I would have liked more of that crumbled up as a base.

As for drinks Katie Ingram of “Elisa” was here mixing her custom cocktail, “Boy in Berlin” featuring Ungava gin, white port, lemon, Riesling cordial, ginger beer, Bitter Sling orange and juniper bitters. It was pretty over ice, with a dried lime wheel and a rose bud.

“Bearface whiskey” was representing with the “Chicha Mule” featuring their whiskey with ginger beer and lime. A simply delicious mule.

The “1181 Cosmo” was named after the bar on Davie with of the same name. Vodka, Cointreau, cranberry, and lime; a strong drink with plenty of kick.

As we mixed and mingled, ate and drank, we heard from the fundraiser’s chair, and Dr. Peter’s mother. We heard the good our contributions did, and were encouraged to help further with additional donations and bids during the live auction.

Shirtless men sold raffle tickets to prize winning draws. The silent auctions were easy to bid on with iPads at every table, and an app to track whether you still held your bid.

But the main event was the live auction, offering up chases to win grand prizes and experiences like a sushi rolling class with Tojo, an island getaway, a giant bucket of pickles, and a multi course dinner prepared by and served by a team of handsome firefighters. All of the prizes above were donated in full, so for all the money they raised, 100% went to the “Dr. Peters” aids Foundation. I was happy to do my part, winning my silent auction bid: a night out to the ballet with an executive hotel stay.

In conclusion “Passions” is everything it promised to be, and more. A great night, serving a wonderful cause, rubbing shoulders with talented chefs and the city’s finest philanthropist. For more details, and how you can contribute to “Dr. Peters’s” cause, visit the link below.

PASSIONS 2019
1110 Comox Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1K5 604-608-1874
www.drpeter.org
Facebook: DrPeterAIDSFoundation
Twitter: @drpeterAIDSfdn
Instagram: @drpetercentre
#Passions19

Jimmy Choo high tea

When I saw the advert for this online, I jumped at the chance to attend what sounded like such a bougie high tea experience. At my current income bracket I could not hope to own a pair of Jimmy Choo’s shoes, so this would be my way of getting close to that lifestyle. However, things were not as expected, and I would continue to feel luxury at arm’s length this afternoon.

The event advertised a Jimmy Choo themed high tea tower, a look at their new fall collection, and a free gift. And it was the latter that sealed the deal for me and had me reaching for my wallet. I was most excited about the promise of a free gift. Not only would it be a great keepsake, but it would make the whole $150 ticket price worth it. I was expecting a key chain or a sample size of their fragrance to take home. Instead, everyone got a gift card, in a box, placed on their setting. It was a $100 gift card to put towards today’s pop up shop. Sadly, majority of the diners already splurged on this, and were not planing on spending more on a handbag at $1500 or a pair of pumps at $2100. So as it was the case with me, many gift card went unused. Left in the box to expire in less than a month’s time. The gift card had many stipulations. You could not combine gift cards, one per transaction; nor could you use them towards a fragrance. And there are no Jimmy Choo stores in Vancouver so you only had a limited time to redeem the card. A month, which is the time the pop up shutters down.

So already this event was off to a bad start in my books. And from here I was extra critical, trying to find value in what I had spent, yet coming out empty handed. For the visual blow by blow, and all the emotions, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

This high tea service, like all others at Fairmont Vancouver is held on the 15th floor, which is their roof. It is a lovely building with an amazing view, but the interior here is outdated, and nothing was done to mark the exclusivity of the occasion. You can enjoy tea here anytime with out a ticket, so I was wanted more bells and whistles for the commitment and price.

The only thing different, that was set up for the occasion was the showcase of Jimmy Choo shoes and small bags. Had I known this was targeted more as a shopping experience rather than high tea, I wouldn’t have bothered purchasing my ticket. And here I thought this was catered to us regular folk, a taste of the food life through finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets. Needless to say, I browsed the displays, lusted after the shoes, then simply walked away.

From here I continued to be disappointed in our food and drink offerings. You were able to choose your tea options from a list of 7. The menu listed them as “Lot 35 teas”, a brand I am familiar with, and one that I enjoy the prestige and quality of. One that I also felt would have matched well the feel of the space.

However what we actually got was tea by “David’s Tea”, as shown by the tags from the bags. It wasn’t bad per se, but it wasn’t what was advertised, and it felt a little too everyday for the upscale dining experience I bought in to.

We did each get a welcome glass of sparkling wine. This was not Moët, despite the menu listing Moët as the only option, at $30 a glass, if you wanted another. Yet another mar on the experience.

The actual tea tower was a pretty display. But besides a few of the desserts, it didn’t read any different or all that luxurious, or specifically like Jimmy Choo. I wanted more embellishments from each individual item, and a tray that was decorated and/or branded accordingly. I would valuable this at $50-60 for this. So I pretty much paid the remaining $90-100 for the gift card I will not be using. Nonetheless, the following is in the order of which we had them.

“Smoked salmon salad” with crème fraîche, salmon roe, and profiterole. Shredded fibrous salmon stuffed into a chewy pastry shell. The salmon roe was the highlight with its juicy pops.

The “Heirloom tomato” finger sandwich was visually appealing. Neufchâtel and balsamic pearls on whole wheat. The flavour came from the vinegary pearls, you had to place them strategically in order to get its tangy flavour with the other wise bland tomato sandwich. Some salt and pepper to taste would have been nice as well.

The “Traditional egg salad” came topped with thin slices of cucumber. It offered freshness and crunch to the otherwise pasty sandwich. The menu lists watermelon radish and brioche; I only got a sliver of the former as a garnish, and was missing brioche all together. As for the egg salad mixture it was chalky and light on mayo. Whereas I want tangy and maybe a little pickling from it.

The “Coronation Chicken” was my favourite of all the sandwiches. It had the most flavour with mango chutney, chilli, pickled walnut, and Pullman. The pickled walnut on top was interesting, it didn’t taste like a nut, and it wasn’t briny like a pickle. It was soggy and ate more like mushroom in its heartiness. The chicken spread was a tad spicy, and there was no sign of mango or its sweetness present.

I liked the look of the “Autumn harvest pea hummus” with prosciutto and ciabatta, but not its texture. And I didn’t find the ham and the hummus all that complimentary. The hummus was a pea forward grainy mush. The saltiness of the prosciutto hidden behind this flavour. The tangy goat cheese helped to pull it together, and the peppery pea shoots I found too much.

My guest doesn’t eat pork, so they substituted the prosciutto option above with beats and cream in another profiterole.

We each got two scones. One buttermilk raisin and one apricot. Served with orange marmalade, strawberry preserves, and clotted cream. The scones were perfect, exactly as I expected with plenty of spreads to give me the flavour I wanted.

For dessert, the two tone pink stiletto “Vanilla sugar cookie” was fun. Not too sweet, a great treat.

The “Macarons” were disappointing. They weren’t fresh. The shells were hard and crumbly and the cream, cakey. They were at least pretty in gold. Gold dusted caramelia cremeux and gold leaf topped elderflower cream. Neither were too sweet. Missing caramel, but got chocolate from the former. The latter was more floral.

The “Chocolate tart” was an explosion of chocolate, featuring a chocolate crust, a chocolate malt ball, a solid chocolate calling card, and plenty of creamy chocolate mousse. The Jimmy Choo logo was a nice tie in.

The “Orange pound cake” was a playful interpretation of one of the available to purchase Jimmy Choo handbags. The shade of pink was off, but the uniquely shaped crystal clasp was a pretty good match. I found the fondant too sweet, but the cake within, pleasant. Hints of orange from a nice sponge.

The most impressive of the lot was the “Lavender scented panna cotta”. All the balls and circles elevate this, adding juicy pops of jelly chews, along side the creamy panna cotta. The floral lavender notes paired well with the cassis brittle gel and passion fruit pearls. But it did get a little like eating perfume, towards the end.

The service was at least fantastic. Our server was attentive. He checked in on us and kept offering to take photos of us. And when we looked like we had, had our fill, he offered to pack it all up to go.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I expected a dip into luxury with this, and instead felt more on the outside looking in then ever. This was not for the every day person wanting to splurge, but a shopping experience for those who wouldn’t bat an eye at dropping $150 for a ticket to tea, and 2 more for each of their young daughters. Lesson learned, I will be staying away from ticketed high tea experiences for a while. Don’t deny your cravings.

FAIRMONT VANCOUVER
900 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC
(604) 684-3131
fairmont.com/hotel-vancouver

Starlight Casino

Today we were gathered at New Westminster’s “Starlight Casino”. Here, to get a more intimate look at this entertainment property. From two of its anchor restaurants to a game of baccarat in their salon room.

For the visual version, check out my latest vlog video, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

Our night began at “Kirin” for some fine Chinese cuisine. A whole suckling pig, lobster, and traditional dim sum desserts, to name a few. For more detail on what we ate, click the link below.

Kirin Banquet

 

As we nibbled we were also given a show by “Shang Noodle House” (also located within “Starlight”). They had their national noodle pulling champion from China, putting on a demonstration for us. She won the title 10 years ago, before she came to work with them here. From a ball of dough she pulled and stretched the round, repeating the motions again and again until she had noodle threads so thin and so soft.

We were then given a chance to touch it and hold it for ourselves. Although I wished there was time of us to try the pulling motion for ourselves, as well.

The final product was then deep fried for everyone to try. Crispy and crumbly, it melted in your mouth and tasted like corn flakes.

After dinner number one, we moved the party to the “Match Eatery” and pub, next door. We were given a tour of all their party rooms before finding ourselves in their “Bud room” with our own bar, pool table, and television screens. For the run down of “Match” and all that they have to offer as the place to party in New Westminster, visit the dedicated blog post below.

Match Eatery, Starlight Casino

From there it was a quick stop at the casino’s “Red Bar”. A bar and club of sorts. Every night, after 9pm its doors open and the party energy within spills on the actual casino floor. Here they have non-ticketed live bands playing every Friday and Saturday. Rotating musicians playing until 1pm and a live DJ taking over until they close at 2pm.

To immerse ourselves in the space further we enjoyed a “French 75”. A classic cocktail with gin, lemon juice, and sparkling wine.

With drink in hand we then rounded out the night playing baccarat, which all of us have never done so before. We were treated to a two round tournament in one of “Starlight’s “ prestigious salons. It is only open by special request with $25,000 buy-in to start and a $500 minimum to play. For those who request the salon, you are treated to your own concierge, they help with any requests you may have, and serve sparkling wine to help celebrate a win, or drown your sorrows in liquor.

The following are instructions on how to play baccarat, from what I retained. Naturally, there are a lot more nuisances to the game, but this is all I needed to get me through the first few rounds, where I started hot and fizzled out quick once my luck turned.

Each round is 20 hands. The goal of each hand is to get to 9. Aces are worth 1, face cards and 10s are 0. For example if you get a king and a 5, your total is 5 and another card is pulled trying to get to 9. The banker doesn’t draw on 7 or more, and the player will always draw on 5 or less. Either can only have up to 3 cards. You don’t actually hold any of the cards, the dealer places everything before them. A hand for the banker and one for the player. Your goal is to place your bet on whether you think the banker or the player would win. We were each given $2500 in chips to play with and one by one we busted. The last one standing won a gift card.

Thus, our night ended in us learning a whole lot more about the casino as a whole: sampling all the food options, checking out the entertainment possibilities, and trying our hand at the games. And yet there is still so much more we didn’t get to see and do. Definitely a great place for your next night out. And for those looking to go all out, they have shuttle service from the skytrain to the casino and back again, so you can leave your car and worries at home.

STARLIGHT CASINO
350 Gifford St., New Westminster, BC, V3M 7A3
(604) 777-8008
matchpub.com

Pre-Passions Event at Pacific Yacht Charters

Today we were treated to a hint of sun, so we took advantage of the clear skies, and set sail with “Pacific Yacht Charters”!

We were gathered aboard to celebrate the upcoming Passions Gala, in support of the Dr. Peter Centre and the Dr. Peter AIDS Fountain. Their work is focused on providing food, support, and therapy to those suffering with HIV/AIDS. Doing so with the belief that “the most basic building block of health comes from the food we eat”. Each year the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation prepares approximately 96,000 meal for approximately 500 people living with HIV/AIDS, mental illness, housing insecurity, and various substance use disorders. Everyone enrolled in the program has access to quality food twice a day. Enough to ensure that they meet their daily nutrient requirements, which is critical in helping with all or any “hefty medication regime”. The result, a program that boasts the best food for any social service program, anywhere.

Our evening started with drinks and canapés, meeting board members and recalling our favourite “Passions” memories from years past. Not to mention getting teasers on what we can expect from this year’s festivities, on its 16th year.

We drank organic wine, enjoying our watery backdrop.

And grazed on artisan olive oil dipped in to with fresh crusty bread.

We picked at a cheese platter with crisp crackers.

And snacked on revolving small bites like black bean quesadillas. Mashed bean and soften tortilla full of zesty flavour.

The beef tartar with Parmesan cheese and red onion was tasty, but the crumbly bread-y base had me wishing for a crunchier cracker.

The herbed chicken skewer was nice with its lemony finish.

And before our evening wrapped up all the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation community and board members were acknowledged, its staff thanked for pulling everything together; and the man that started it all: Nathan Fong, was recognized.

Nathan took the stage, recalling how he started the event over 16 years ago. It all began with a cooking class he held and the request to have him throw a cocktail party in support of the foundation. Back then his first go yielded 9 Chefs and 100 attendees, raising $7,000. Fast forward “Passions” has raised 1.6million to date. An impressive feat considering this is one of the only charitable organizations that donates 100% of all its profits to the very foundation it is fundraising for. If you haven’t heard of this event before, this is definitely not the one to miss. Over 20 restaurants and chefs rolling up their sleeves and cooking for a cause.

The following is a list of which restaurant attendees can expect. An impressive list representing the breadth of Vancouver’s culinary scene. New to “Passions” is “Cantina Norte” (coming to North Vancouver in 2020), “Hydra”, “L’ Abattoir”, “Ancora”, and “Fanny Bay Oysters”. Familiar annual favourites like “ARC”, “Beaucoup Bakery”, “Boulevard”, “CinCin”, “Forage”, “H2 Rotisserie”, “Honey Salt”, “Joe Fortes”, “Market by Jean-Georges”, “Minami”, “Notch8”, “Pacific Yacht Charters”, “Provence Marinaside”, “The Observatory”, “Togo’s”, and “West”; will be back for 2019.

For those interested, there are a few tickets left. General admission is $225 per ticket. It includes unlimited small bites from all the participating vendors above and drinks by mixologists from “Elisa” and “H tasting lounge”. For $300 per ticket you can upgrade to VIP status. If you are planning on attending, this is the ticket you want. VIP ticket holders gets in earlier, with first access to all the food and drink stations, glasses of bubbles, and a VIP gift bag to close out the night with. And once again, it all goes to a great cause. 100% of your ticket cost goes directly to support the Dr. Peter Centre in Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood; and their 7 day a week, 24 hour licensed care residence, and enhanced supportive housing program.

Speaking from experience, attending last year’s occasion for the first time, and bidding on and winning one of the large auction prizes; I can tell you this occasion is the one to be at! The preeminent food and drink event in the city; the one that every foodie needs to attend at least once. Entry includes the ability to hob knob with a room full of talented chefs, while gorging on their delicious dishes; all in support of a great cause.

For more information on next week’s highly anticipated gala, check out the link below, and be sure to get your tickets soon! I will see you there!
https://www.drpeter.org/events/Passions/

 

PASSIONS 2019
1110 Comox Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1K5 604-608-1874
www.drpeter.org
Facebook: DrPeterAIDSFoundation
Twitter: @drpeterAIDSfdn
Instagram: @drpetercentre
#Passions19

Long Table Dinner at Singletree Winery

“Handmade and Homegrown” with Tourism Abbotsford

Today I was invited down to Abbotsford to learn more about their new marketing campaign: “Handmade and Homegrown”. We gathered at “Singletree Winery” for a harvest themed event, which spoke to “Abbotsford’s booming agricultural scene, unique food culture, and fall offerings.

The heavy downpour put a damper on the evening’s plans, but with an erected tent and enough rain cover, we made the best out of the wet situation.

Our arrival began the reception, where we were treated to a welcome glass of “Singletree’s” sparkling wine. A light effervescent sipper that paired well with the large help yourself charcuterie board in the corner. This was a rustic platter of assorted meat and cheeses supplied by “Lepp Farm Market” and “Mt. Lehman cheese”. You grazed on the above, pairing it with crisp crackers, rye and sourdough loaf, seeded bread, and crusty baguette. Then dipped and spread your way through beetroot and chickpea hummus; roasted pumpkin, chilli and tahini; and eggplant and roasted garlic baba ganoush. There were also pickled bites and fresh fruit to nibble on. Pitted olives, pickled artichoke, strawberries donated by “Maan Farms”; and candied walnuts sweetened with honey from “Campbell’s gold honey farm and meadery”.

We grazed and chatted while awaiting the main event: the grape stomp. This will be my first ever grape stomp, and another one crossed off the foodie bucket list. The only thing I was missing was being able to pick the grape from the vine, and then drinking the squished product. For hygienic reasons, this is no longer the way juice is extracted from grapes, so it was a treat to be able to kick it old school, literally.

In groups of three we lined up behind the giant buckets filled with grapes still on stem. Then all participants stomped their hearts out, competing to see which team would produce the most juice. Speaking from my own experience it was fun, but tiring. Grapes between your toes, juice splashing against your ankles, and a warm foot bath waiting for you when your turn is done. Our team did not win, but everyone, who got to try, won in experience.

For how the stomping went, and the rest of this one of a kind night, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

Then it was time for our long table feast. Two tables set under the glow of strung up lights. Each laid with grape vines and silver plated chalices filled with actual grapes. They set the tone and spoke to the farm land we were dining on.

Our dinner was prepared by “White Table Catering Co.”. It featured plenty of local produce and products from neighbouring farms and businesses in Abbotsford; much like the charcuterie board above was. Their menu was created to reflect the transition of the season from summer to fall.

We started with the “zucchini veloute”, a luxurious soup. Soup so thick and creamy that it ate like dessert. It was given more depth with the roasted tomato tart finish. It was a two bite flaky pastry, topped with a micro herb salad for some freshness.

The next dishes were served family style, featuring locally grown vegetables. Platters that were passed from person to person as we took our fill and went back for more. The two salads were heartier, and exactly like how I want all my salads to be. The “Turmeric cauliflower salad” was crispy florets sweetened by bits of dates and pomegranate, given spice with coriander, and tang with yoghurt. I could eat this and the green salad below, every day.

The “Ladolemono salad” was green bean, asparagus, almond, and radish. More crispy vegetables, seasoned perfectly in butter, to allow them to shine through with their freshness. And the almonds slivers and the radish slices offered a different kind of textural crisp.

The “Roasted eggplant” was seasoned in Mediterranean spices, served with a thick Catalan tomato sauce, raw red pepper, and goat feta from “Mt. Lehman cheese”. You must like eggplant to enjoy this one; but if you don’t, the flavourful sauce and salty cheese does help to mask both the soggier texture and distinct taste of the purple vegetable. Good, but I would have preferred this as side to the chicken below, instead of a main on its own.

I much more preferred the “Roasted Brussels sprouts” with lemon yoghurt, dehydrated strawberries, more “Mt. Lehman” goat cheese, and crushed up hazelnuts. Another well balanced vegetable dish that gave you a great collection of tastes and texture to sort through. If I had access to such dishes more regularly, I would be a lot more healthier.

And lastly “roasted chicken” with a squash and pumpkin purée, and a corn and heirloom tomato succotash salad. This was my favourite of the savoury dishes. Tender and juicy quality chicken breast from “Rossdown Farms”, paired with every taste and textured side I would want with my lean chicken. Starchy purée, sweet corn, and juicy tomato.

And for dessert, it was one of the most beautiful panna cottas I have ever had. Roasted plum compote, pistachio, edible flowers, and honey from “Campbell’s gold honey farm and meadery”. A perfectly light dessert to end on. Just as fresh and beautifully done as all the courses before it. Tart plum and a silken pudding flavoured mildly like coconut. Conversing with my table mates, everyone else enjoyed this and their meal just as much.

And with dessert we enjoyed the 2015 Late Harvest Kerner from the Okanagan Valley. This smaller bottle of sweet dessert wine, left a great impression on everyone. It was so tasty, that I would mind just drinking this for dessert.

And with the first 6 of our 7 course meal we enjoyed either/or, or both a red and white from “Singletree’s” collection. Their 2017 pinot gris made from grapes grown in the Fraser Valley, and their 2015 Harness with grapes gathered from their vineyards in the Okanagan. Both wines perfectly reflecting the theme of “homemade and homegrown”. “Singletree” is terroir driven, they focus on the grapes that naturally grow well in this climate, thus giving you a true taste of Abbotsford.

You may have missed this culinary experience, but you can still enjoy the hospitality of the “Singletree Winery” through their events and use of their property. “Wind-down Friday” hosts local musicians as they perform live. And on any dry day, you can grab a seat in their licensed picnic area. Pull open a book, or see if you can spot some of the wild life that visit. The wild animals can be caught nibbling from the wild fruits that still grow in the area; seeing as the property use to be the largest fruit orchard in the city, with a focus on blueberries. Black bears, deers, and birds of prey.

SINGLETREE WINERY
5782 Mount Lehman Rd, Abbotsford, BC V4X 1V4
(604) 381-1788
singletreewinery.com

#handmadehomegrown
#cultivatedcity
#exploreabbotsford

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