Category Archives: Travel

Sun Peaks Resort Holiday Kick Off – A Resort For All Seasons

Sun Peaks – Way More Than Snow

I’ve been up to Sun Peaks a few times over the years, twice for the Wine Festival, once for a harvest dinner in the fall, another for a summer visit and recently, just before Christmas, for the Holiday Kick Off Weekend. Each time the resort gets better, with more to do and see, and with the new management at the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel and Conference Centre, the accommodation and cuisine is now top notch too.

Just before Christmas we checked in and checked out the resort and there’s was certainly a lot going on that weekend as they launched their holiday season.

Sun Peaks Resort

As we arrived, we heard the sounds of Rusty the Ice Carver carving the ice patio and sculptures on the Mantles patio. He then went on to place second in the International Ice Sculpting Competition in Russia! It was very cool to chat with him about his self-taught carving skills and hear about the restaurant and Brew Pub he runs in Cranbrook, The Heid Out. We plan on a visit this year. On Saturday it warmed up a bit and the Ice Bar on Mantles Lounge Patio served up apple cider, mulled wine, and hosted a Martini Luge!

Sun Peaks Resort

Sun Peaks Brew Pub

Speaking of brews, Sun Peaks Brew Pub, owned by BC Brewing Co. launched that weekend with two stellar beers, a cream ale and a brown ale and we’ve got the hats and growlers to prove we were there.

Sun Peaks Brew Pub

Sun Peaks Resort

The Artisan Market in the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel Lower Lobby provided us the opportunity to shop for some holiday gifts and we were on hand to witness Santa arriving by sleigh at Morrisey’s Pub, where they served up complimentary coffee and hot chocolate to fend off the cold.

Sun Peaks Resort

The Gingerbread Unveiling in the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel Upper Lobby was well attended. The creation was made by the hotel’s pastry chef, Samantha Rosen, and took a month from start to finish. There were ten houses and even she can’t count the candies. Apparently the trees were the hardest part to get correct and although I suggested perhaps she hire a helper, she commented that the symmetry might not be there with alternative hands and simply wished she had far more time to complete. Nevertheless, it was beautifully done.

Sun Peaks Resort

Rum and Blackwell Dairy Eggnog was served up along with a delicious Christmas cake in the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel Upper Lobby and we went back for two pieces they were so good, and we usually really hate Christmas Cake!

Sun Peaks Resort

Sun Peaks Resort

 

The hospitality at the hotel is genuine and we had several stellar meals and a couple cocktail hour visits. The chicken with pita was delightful and was a perfect meal for two when served up with a side salad and flatbread and a sandwich for lunch, shared, held us both over til dinner.

Another night we dined in the restaurant at the Sun Peaks Grand and had a bit of a fancier dinner, another great locally-sourced pork chop and the surf and turf with the steak perfectly medium rare.

Sun Peaks Resort

Breakfast could be the buffet, which we did do once, but the second day I went for the pancakes which did not disappoint!

Sun Peaks Resort

The rooms are spacious and comfortable, our only regret was that in the minus 8-21 temperatures we were too chicken to get out and actually enjoy the mountain! Let’s hope in March, when we return for the Culinary Weekend with Vikram Vij, that it’s warmed up! Thankfully the hotels gym kept the calories burning while we were there.

 

Escape to Victoria – Christmas in Victoria with the Magnolia Hotel and Helijet

Magnolia Hotel Celebrates the Holidays with a Festive Trail

It couldn’t be easier to get over to the Island with Helijet, and that’s exactly what you should do to capture Victoria’s holiday magic this December. With over a dozen flights a day, right from downtown Vancouver, you are easily on your way on your holiday journey and quickly back to the mainland when you’re ready.

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Book ahead for the Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s ‘Christmas in Victoria’, starting at just $249 per night until December 31, 2016 and you’ll receive all the special holiday touches the hotel has to offer.

magnolia lobby christmas

Start the day with muffins and coffee in the lobby, or return later in the afternoon and warm up with a hot cup of mulled apple cider and cookies.

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Special Christmas treats such as Bailey’s and hot chocolate are delivered to each guest’s door as part of the hotel’s nightly turndown service and the ‘Christmas in Victoria’ package also includes a $25 daily voucher for a hotel service of choice.

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While in town I’d suggest checking out Ferris Oyster Bar, where I recently had fresh oysters and a spectacular cocktail, the Spanish Negroni with olorosso sherry, campari, cinzano, orange and cava, and a tasty salad after some shopping along Fort Street.

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The hotel’s restaurant, Catalano, is also great for happy hour, lunch and dinner; I dined on a perfectly cooked duck paired with a glass of Burrowing Owl Syrah and I’d recommend you do too!

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The rooms are gorgeous, many have views of the harbour and you’ll have a hard time rising from their super comfortable beds.

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Breakfast at the hotel is also lovely. I went for the healthy start (for a change).

Be sure to check out “The Festive Trail”, part of the hotel’s Curated Trails program,  and see the festive sights of Victoria.  The Annual Festival of Trees, at the Bay Centre will get you in the holiday mood and the Gingerbread Showcase is a must at The Inn at Laurel Point. Festive Trail highlights also include Christmas in Old Town at the Royal BC Museum and a holiday Ferris Wheel, and horse-drawn carriage rides.

To book, visit www.magnoliahotel.com or call 1-877-624-6654.

*Helijet and Hotel Magnolia covered my charges, but, as always, I only write about what I truly loved.

Oakland’s Urban Wine Trail

Visit Oakland Where Wines Aren’t Always Among the Vines

Heading to California and looking for some wine tasting? There’s no need to venture right into the vineyards of Napa or Sonoma, (although we wouldn’t frown upon that) instead hit the new urban wine trail right around Oakland. Oakland’s a quick jaunt from the San Francisco Airport and the trail is even easily bike-able! I ventured down to California this spring and have the scoop on this hip destination.

Oakland

Stay

You’ll want to check yourself into the Waterfront Hotel Oakland in Jack London Square, the only publicly accessible mixed-use waterfront in the East Bay. The hotel has a nostalgic nautical theme and is right on the water with views of passing boats and kayaks. The Square is home to excellent restaurants and retail as well as the weekly farmers market which I was lucky enough to catch.

Oakland

Tour

Book ahead to ensure you’ve got a spot on the East Bay Winery Bike Tours, the experts in the area. They arrived at the hotel with bikes in tow and guided us through the streets to three very different tasting rooms. The tour owner’s wife had even baked some fresh Foccacia for us to enjoy along the way; first class treatment.

Oakland

First up was Dashe, Oakland’s largest working winery where winemaker Michael Dashe showed off their impressive Grencahe Blanc, Carignane and  and Zinfandel in a rather spacious winery room.

Oakland

Next we ventured to Urban Legends Cellar Door, a bustling barrel-filled space where owners Marilee and Steve Shaffer greeted us with sensational Rhone varieties, and a stellar Pinot Noir and Italian Dolcetto.

Oakland

Cycling on to Rosenblum back at Jack London Square we delved further into their food-friendly Zinfandels served up with a lovely cheese and charcuterie plate. And this, all is one afternoon.

Oakand

Oakland

Dine

We arrived in time for lunch in the Square and choose Bocanova, a seaside spot with an excellent patio and Latin-inspired Fare. The ceviches were superb, duck tacos divine and the Pork Cubano sandwich crunchy, moist and chock full of chorizo, pork, emmentaler and pickled peppers. We had some issues over ownership of the warm croissant bread pudding with Mexican Chocolate ice cream, but we resolved them by ordering a second.

Oakland

Dinner was also in the square at Haven, a more formal spot with prixe fixe menus that began with a bread, veggie and charcuterie plate that haunts me with its greatness to this day. With pickled veggies, chicken liver mousse, pastrami, a pork terrine, fava-bean fritters and more, this “Breaking Bread” course, as they called it, set the stage for a superb meal.

Oakland

Continuing on the meat theme, we shared a foie gras dish strewn with pickled green strawberries, a delightful pork belly, asparagus complete with a decadent sauce, a prime-aged rib-eye, a deliciously moist fish dish with with it’ perfectly crisp skin and even managed a chocolate dessert served with ice cream. Had we had another night in town we would have returned. Excellent service, wonderful wine list and cozy but sleek atmosphere all bonuses.

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Farmers Market

The following day my flight back to Vancouver wasn’t until late afternoon so I lingered aboutand caught the farmers market, complete with a chicken roaster, fresh oranges and plenty of sweet treats.

Shrimp N Grits

Brunch was a plate of shrimp at Grits at Brix 581, a spot that looked like it would be hopping at night, and showed signs of action at brunch.

Oakland

The rain started just as I was leaving so my farewell to California was less painful, but as I write this I am already planning my next adventure there.

Cultus Lake Park and Marina

Summer’s Not Quite Over Yet at Cultus Lake Park and Marina

One hour east of Vancouver BC, just south of Chilliwack you’ll find a ton of outdoor activities, camping and watersports and it’s still not too late to have some fun in the sun this season . Cultus Lake offers restaurants, golfing, sport fishery, water sports and more!

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While our crew ventured out a little earlier in the year, the Cultus Lake Marina is still open for boat and jet ski rentals, and the camp grounds are busy with shoulder season campers. In fact it’s better in the Fall as the crowds have died down and you get the lake almost to yourself.

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Book on line to reserve your rental and get out there a little early to fill in your forms and get a safety lesson on the equipment and how to use it. The crew is super friendly and be sure to ask all the questions and get comfortable before hitting the water.

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Remember that to turn a boat you have to accelerate; I forgot this and the first thing I did was cruise into another boat. Don’t make that mistake. Other than that it was a super fun ride and a few of us even jumped into the lake for a swim. Back at the marina I even jumped aboard jet ski for a ride!

cultus lake

We enjoyed a great BBQ at the marina, but there’s also restaurants in the area and the amusement parks can keep kids of any age busy.

Sooke Harbour House

Staying in Sooke – Fall at Sooke Harbour House

I adore fall and find there’s nothing better than a stroll on a  coolish day when the sun is still shining, yet there’s a crispness in the air and a need for an extra layer to insulate one from the impending chill. This is the best time to get away in British Columbia and really take the time to watch the foliage turn colour and the land claim back what’s left in the fields to refurbish its soil.

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Vancouver Island often calls me and I feel so at ease there as I sync/sink into the slower pace almost right off the ferry I take from Tsawassen. It’s a 90 minute  ferry ride to the other side, and another half hour or so until the road brings you to Sooke, and then the trail to Sooke Harbour House, where I recently had a most memorable stay.

Sooke Harbour Hous was built in 1929 as a simple  two-story farmhouse inn with a dining room for visitors. In 1979 Frederique and Sinclair Philip, purchased the, it five small guestrooms, but no private guest bathrooms, and only a small dining room. The couple continued to renovate though to 1986 when they built ten additional far larger guestrooms, then renovated the initial five in 1988 and added 13 rooms in 1998, bringing the total to the current 28. The hotel is known for its luxurious, spacious rooms, superb hospitality, top notch dining and gorgeous gardens, all which are maintained to this day, attracting locals and visitors from all around the globe.

Sooke Harbour House

I stayed in a most spacious room, which was a bit wasted on me as I was solo, but I did my best to use up the most welcoming space, taking a bath in the mid-room tub, sprawling out on the couch to read and occupying the majority of the king bed throughout the night. It was almost too much, but I managed.

Sooke Harbour House

I had met Frederique Philip at a Feast of Fields in Duncan a few year’s back and was thrilled she was joining me for dinner. One could not hope for a more entertaining and knowledgeable dinner companion. While the food was foremost, she unveiled stories of her journeys and the history of Sooke, acting as a fitting backdrop for a remarkable evening.

My photos do not convey Chef Jonas Stadtländer talents properly as the lighting was getting trying as the evening went on and we sampled leisurely through the pairing menu. Stadtlander’s father, Michael Stadlander, led the kitchen at Sooke in the 80’s and it’s quite special to see his son come up the ranks and join this highly regarded resort, with his own approach to the area’s local cuisine.

Local is an absolute that stands out at Sooke, and always has. While farm to table, field to table, foraged and free range are words that are now splattered on menus as often as drinks are splashed on them, Sooke Harbour House always had this mandate. The restaurant followed the seasons and the chefs that came and went from their took this style of cooking with them. Frederique and Sinclair were pioneers in this field, and did not just influence those on the Island, and throughout British Columbia, but created practices that shaped the local movement throughout North America and beyond.

Sooke Harbour House

Highlights of the dinner included the Roasted Pork Belly, balanced with mustard-braised lentils, lovage pork jus, asparagus and morels; these wild mushrooms had just come into season and were superbly dense with earthy flavours.

Sooke Harbour House

Grilled Albacore Tuna came with a Sooke-grown wasabi (held by Fredrique above), a strawberry ginger glaze, tempura radish greens, and radish and foraged sea asparagus, another example of exquisite local ingredients enhanced by international techniques. A Kettle Valley Riesling balanced out the mild spiciness in the dish.

Sooke Harbour House

Cowichan Valley is not far up Island from Sooke and a Pekin Duck had been brought for the next dish, duck breast dish with a savoury jus, buttered spring leeks, tortellini and red and golden beets. Perfectly cooked, quite tender and a stellar pairing for the Pinot Noir from Tantalus Vineyards.

The meal was fulfilling on so many levels and as I drifted back to my room for a final hour or so before that king size bed called, I thought of all the memories that had been created in this very space over the last century and how rare a place this still is to this day.

Sooke Harbour House

In the morning I strolled the property and peaked into some of the other guest rooms (the empty ones of course) and had a breakfast before I had to venture out. A wedding was to take place that day and the prep was well under way. Many more memories were being made as I looked on, and I absorbed many of my very own.

 

Roman Countryside Culinary Adventure and Olive Oil Recipes

Join Chef Dana Reinhardt in Tuscania for a Roman Countryside Culinary Adventure

Is their anything better than traveling, enjoying good food and learning to cook better. Well, I think not. We are lucky enough to have Chef Dana Reinhardt in our midst, she’s a friend and a fellow Les Dames d’Escoffier member, and an amazing cook. I’ve take a few cooking classes with her and have the recipes to prove it! Recently I joined a group of food lovers at Siena restaurant where Dana revealed the details of an amazing trip to Italy and served up some very tasty olive-oil based dishes. Recipes below!

Last year she’s sussed out a stunning farm in Tuscania, Lazio, Italy and she is now hosting culinary tours there. You can join Chef Dana Reinhardt in exploring the incredible bounty of Casa Caponetti.  Casa Caponetti, is situated on a stunning 125 acre olive farm and home to an ancient Etruscan necropolis, comprising one of the largest single ruins on private land.  On the tour you will harvest seasonal produce from the extensive biodynamic vegetable gardens (27 varieties of tomatoes!) and use meat from their heritage breed cattle, pigs and chickens located directly on the property.

Learn to make pizza and bread in the wood fire oven; master the tricks of hand-made pasta and forage for wild herbs and mushrooms in the surrounding woodlands.  The trip will also include visits to local vineyards for wine tastings, artisanal cheese makers and the fresh fish market in Civitavecchia.  A whole week of exploration, cooking, learning and laughing.


Highlights
  • Hands-on cooking classes with two master chefs:  Chef Dana Reinhardt of Vancouver and Chef Mark Medina-Rios of Casa Caponetti.
  • Exploring the Roman countryside with amazing trips to local wineries, cheese makers, fish markets and ancient walled villages.
  • Working with sustainable, biodynamic and organic ingredients direct from the farm and learning traditional and modern Roman dishes.
  • Time to wander or hike the pastoral and beautiful grounds of Casa Caponetti and discover the site of ancient Etruscan ruins.
  • Pamper yourself with a massage from the in-house masseuse or a trip to the Roman Papal baths and spa in Vitterbo.


Includes:

  • 6 nights and 7 days private guest accommodation
  • 7 day guided culinary tour
  • Visits to wineries, cheese makers, fish market including transportation
  • Tastings of local cheese, wine, olive oil and breads
  • All lunch and dinners with wine at offsite excursions are included
  • All meals and wine
  • All applicable taxes

 

SEPTEMBER 25-OCTOBER 1, 2016
TOUR: $3099.00

To inquire about the experience, contact Chef Dana Reinhardt directly at: cookitalytours.com or by mail: reinhardtdana19@gmail.com

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Chilled Radish and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Soup Yield: 4 portions

2 pounds          red radishes, rinsed, trimmed and chopped                        (keep 2 radish aside to thinly slice and use as a garnish)
2                      shallots, finely chopped
2 Tbsps            extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp             butter
3 cups              chicken/vegetable stock
kosher salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil for garnish

In a medium saucepot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shallots and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the radishes and sauté for about 8 minutes.  Cover with chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 10 minutes until the radishes are cooked through.  Puree the soup in a blender and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Chill for 6 hours or overnight.  Serve garnished with sliced radish and extra virgin olive oil.

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Fresh Pea and Basil Panna Cotta  – 6 – 2 ounce portions

1 cup               fresh or frozen peas
1 Tbsp             butter
1 Tbsp             shallots
¼ cup              chicken stock
¾ cup              milk
¼ cup              whipping cream
1 T                fresh basil, chopped
2 sheets           gelatin
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsps            extra virgin olive oil
fresh basil leaves

Soak gelatin in mixture of milk and cream.  In a small skillet, over medium heat, sauté shallots in butter and add peas.  Add chicken stock and simmer for 3 minutes or until peas are just cooked.  Puree in blender with fresh basil.  Pour into a medium mixing bowl.

Remove gelatin from cream mixture and pour into a small saucepan.  Squeeze out excess liquid from the gelatin into the saucepan and set the gelatin aside.  Heat the cream over medium heat until warmed through.  Do not boil.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat and whisk in the gelatin until dissolved.  Whisk into the  pea puree and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve.  Pour into tall shot glasses, cover each one with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Serve topped with extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil leaves.

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Honey Semifreddo Yield:  8 – 2 oz ramekins

120 grams                   egg yolks
150 grams                   honey
300 grams                   whipping cream

In a medium saucepan with a candy thermometer, heat the honey over medium heat until it reaches 115C.  Meanwhile whip the egg yolks until pale in a stand mixer.  Once the honey reaches temperature, whip the honey slowly into the yolks.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream into soft peaks.  Fold the cream into the yolk mixture and pour into the ramekins.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

Semiahmoo Resort – Luxury Just Across the Border

Semiahamoo Resort – New Chef Brings Revamped Locally Sourced Menu

Grab your passport and head south for a getaway just across the border at the Semiahmoo Resort. My pal Tess and I recently returned from a great night of relaxing, with some spa time and an amazing dinner prepared by Executive Chef Bruno Feldeisen and his team. The next morning, after an delicious breakfast, we did some biking around Birch Bay and a little shopping further south to complete our little getaway.

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The resort has recently gone through a renovation and the guest rooms feature insanely comfortable bedding, complimentary Wi-Fi and modern electronics.

Semihamoo Resort

Our room looked out across the harbour with cool spring winds blowing in through our open window and plenty of sea creatures and sea birds drifting by.

Semihamoo Resort

Semihamoo Resort

The resort sits out on a spit on Semiahmoo Bay and Drayton Harbor, and boasts two golf courses that were ranked among the top courses in Washington in 2015 by Golfweek should golf be your thing. I have yet to learn to swing a club without injuring myself or others.

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The onsite spa offers guests a wide array of seaweed inspired treatments, but I chose an incredibly relaxing and aromatic Herbal Massage with the added scents of calendula and comfrey.

Semiahmoo Resort

Semihamoo Resort

In addition to the guest room and lobby renovations, Semiahmoo Resort updated their restaurants, Packers Oyster Bar and Pierside Kitchen and recently brought Chef Bruno Feldeisen on board. You might know him from YEW Restaurant at the Vancouver Four Seasons Hotel, where we first met him when he oversaw the innovative pastry and dessert program. Feldeisen has been the recipient of awards such as Chocolatier Magazine’s Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America, and was nominated twice for the James Beard Outstanding Pastry Award in 1997 and 1998. Plus he’s super charming and a treat to talk food with! He’s pictured above with Tess.

Semihamoo Resort

Here we are on our way to dinner. Didn’t mean to match, but we decided it was sort of cute. I have my selfie face on AGAIN!

Semiahmoo Resort

Feldeisen’s menu  is focused on showcasing the local bounty available from the areas seaside environs and nearby farms and ranches. The room is gorgeous with views out to the sea, lots of natural wood and a fresh nautical theme.

The revitalized new menu includes seasonal additions such as Seared Jumbo Scallops, Braised Heirloom Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Candied Fennel, Lemon Pop Corn; and cote de boeuf Tomahawk for two.

Semihamoo Resort

White spring salmon. The first of the season!

Semiahmoo Resort

Cioppino, Penn Cove Mussels, Manila Clams, Chorizo, Jumbo Prawns, Saffron, Aioli, Artisan Bread

Semiahmoo Resort

Lamb Loin, Cannellini Beans, Fennel Tomato Salad, Coriander

Semiahmoo Resort

Roasted Pacific Halibut, Celeriac Puree, Brussels Sprouts and Spring Beans

Semiahmoo Resort

Our dinner was exceptional. We shared a variety of smaller plates all leading up to a delightful dessert.

Pierside Kitchen is open for breakfast from 7 to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, with brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, lunch daily 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and  dinner from 5 to 9 p.m.  The full menu is available here.

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The next day we had a tasty breakfast. The must is the cheddar and peanut butter omelette. I know it sounds bizarre, but it’s really a brilliant combination. It’s pictured above in the breakfast trio.

Here’s some biking action!

Paddle and Peddle Adventures

Paddle and Peddle Adventures

Off to Birch Bay the next day for some big wheel biking up into the state park! Paddle and Peddle Adventures has a variety of very cool rides.

Next up for the resort is another five-course wine pairing with JM Cellars on Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. Menu will feature a variety of thoughtful pairings including; scallop sashimi prepared with pickled vegetables, yuzu juice and charred Asian pear, paired with JM Cellars’ 2014 Bramble Bump White; Lummi Island wild halibut with butter poached spot prawns, white asparagus and pinot noir reduction, paired with the JM Cellars’ 2013 Chardonnay; spring lamb loin with fava beans, smoked spring purple carrots, thyme jus paired with the 2012 Tre Fanciulli; and rhubarb tart with lemon ice cream, paired with the 2015 rosé for dessert.

CANADIAN DEAL on until May 19 Canadian Dollar at Par

If you want to book a room and pay in Canadian Dollars for the American Rate use the code GOODLIFEVAN. Enter this on the website when booking will extend the Canadian at par rates until  Thursday, May 19.

Honda Accord

Thanks to Honda Canada for the loan of the Honda Accord! Auto Review here.

Exploring Abbotsford Tulips and Craft Beer

What’s up in Abbotsford these days? Blossoms and beer!

Abbotsford is growing rapidly of late and the city is attracting all sorts of new and very cool businesses and festivals! We recently ventured out for the Abbotsford Tulip Festival (on until May 1, 2016), and on the way back stopped in for some craft beer and a locally sourced dinner.

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The area is known for it’s farmland and while the Tulip Festival is seasonal, many farms and attractions are open year round; check the Circle Farm Tour website for touring suggestions here.

Be sure to mark your calendar for August 19, 2016 when the Applebarn at Taves Family Farm opens for the season and plan a day in the country.

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The newest brewery is Field House Brewing and they’ve got a variety of seasonal beers and a gorgeous tasting room.

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Bonnie Friesan and her efficient crew Faspa and Co Catering and the brewery and chef worked together to produce a well-paired dinner at the brewery using local and seasonal ingredients

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The long table was beautifully set using local foliage.

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Beets, spinach and ricotta.

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Local duck and fiddleheads!

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Delicious rhubarb!

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Ladies!

For more on Abbotsford, check out our last stay in Abbotsford at Brookside Inn. 

Penticton Land of Libations – Eat, Stay and Sip in Wine and Beer Country

Where to Eat, Stay and Sip –  Savour the Good Life in Penticton!

We are often in the Okanagan, as my parents, sister and all her crew live in Kelowna and Michael would move to Osoyoos if he could, he loves it so much. So, we often find ourselves in the middle of the valley, traveling to and from destinations and stay a night in Penticton to enjoy some great food and their local craft beer!

Where to stay?

Barefoot Resort

Penticton Barefoot Resort

The coolest spot to stay in Penticton is the Barefoot Resort in a Yurt! What’s a yurt you ask? “Most yurts are portable, tent-like structures. They have circular lattice walls (reminiscent of baby gates tied together) and cone-shaped roof, supported by rafters that meet in a center ring.” According to Yurts: Living in the Round. The yurts at Barefoot are high-end, they’ve got skylights, hardwood floor and French doors opening onto private decks with personal barbecues.  The resort is right next to the beaches of Skaha Lake, but it’s also next to the highway and the air strip so can get a little noisy at times. There are different sizes and they range from about $250-$350 a night.

Penticton wine country rentals

Penticton Wine Country Rentals

We’ve also stayed in a cozy condo with Penticton Wine Country Rentals; they have four condos available, all located right in town, near the beach and with full kitchens and plenty of room. Our condo was perfect, right near the breweries, and with a lovely balcony and super comfy bed. We didn’t want to leave!

Food

You won’t go hungry in Penticton. From casual eateries to fine dining and everything in between there’s lots of deliciousness here.

Penticton - The Bench Market

Let’s start with breakfast, and The Bench Market. Their breakfast wraps rule and you can grab some sandwiches for later or stock up on some locally-sourced groceries if you’ve got a kitchenette.

Penticton Taste Brodo

We also love Taste Brodo, for lunch, or an early dinner, they’ve got the best soups and make their own bone broth, which I’ve become a big fan of of late.

Penticton The Vanilla Pod

If you are wine tasting on the Naramata Bench, don’t miss The Vanilla Pod at Poplar Grove winery, and beer lovers should check out the pizzas and brews at Bad Tattoo Brewing.

penticton oysters

Penticton The Hooded Merganser

We love our oysters, so never miss a chance to sample a few at Salty’s Beach House and have had some great dinners at The Hooded Merganser right on the lake, which also does a great Sunday brunch and has a lunch menu that looks excellent too.

Penticton burger55

For Mexican we checked out the Vallarta Grill and found a super festive mood happening along with some pretty authentic cuisine, and Burger 55 is insanely good.

Sip

This is wine country, they say, but there’s also no shortage of craft beer and even spirits in Penticton. We ventured up in April 2014 for the Okanagan Feast of Ale and it’s grown vastly since.  Wine lovers will want to plan for the Naramata Tailgate Party in the beginning of September.

penticton the cannery blackberry porter

We make sure to stop in for a beer tasting at The Cannery and don’t miss their Blackberry Porter. You’ll also want to stop in at Tin Whistle and the above mentioned Bad Tattoo Brewing, as well as The Barley Mill Brewpub.

penticton the legend distillery the defender

There are now three distilleries in the area too, Legend Distilling (don’t miss their smoked rosemary gin), Maple Leaf Spirits and Old Order.

Wineries are so plentiful in the area that I don’t really even know where to start. A drive along the Naramata Bench is a must and we’re awfully fond of Howling Bluff, Bench 1775, Pentage, Lake Breeze, La Frenz and Elephant Island, but you can’t go far wrong in these parts.

Penticton

A couple summers ago we took a lake cruise on the Casabella Princess and loved it, if you have some time, it’s a must.

cupcakes penticton farmer's market

In the summer the Saturday Penticton Farmer’s Market is worthy of at least an hour of your time. So much goodness here!

We’ll be back in Penticton again in April, and we look forward to some new discoveries.

Osoyoos Oyster Festival – Even Oysters Need a Day in the Sun

Osoyoos Oyster Festival Events for 2016 April 20-24

For the fifth year in a row I am heading up to Osoyoos for their annual oyster festival and it’s Michael’s third year! We’re huge fans of bivalves and when they are paired with oyster friendly wines, beers and libations, we love them even more. The oyster festival was created to give oyster farmers a bit of a break, while entertaining locals and visitors in the shoulder season. The weather is always sunny, and just a little bit crisp, and the room rates are reasonable.

Osoyoos Oyster Festival

The youngest oyster shuckers in action above!

Shucker Paddy

This year, World Champion Oyster Shucker Patrick McMurray, AKA “Shucker Paddy,” will be shucking oysters along with other chefs, fishmongers and oyster farmers. Over the course of the festival, guests can sip Canadian wine, craft beer and spirits, paired with delicious oyster creations from local chefs.

walnut beach resort

For out of town guests attending the festival, Spirit Ridge at Nk’Mip Resort, Walnut Beach Resort, Watermark Beach Resort, and Holiday Inn and Suites Osoyoos, are offering special Oyster Festival room rates. Visit: osoyoosoysterfestival.com/stay-in-osoyoos.

Osoyoos Oyster Festival

For more information and to purchase tickets for festival events, please visit: osoyoosoysterfestival.com.

Oyster Paella

 

Over the years we’ve attended the Miradoro Long Table Dinner and been served some of the best paella ever, oyster paella from Chef Jeff Van Geest, made over an outdoor fire pit.

Osoyoos Oyster Festival

The pizza party at Terrafina is another worthy event, bubble and oysters along with Hester Creek’s spring releases.

Osoyoos Oyster Festival

Last year they added an event at the local golf course’s Greenside Grill and got to know some local spirits from Dubh Glas Distillery.

Osoyoos Oyster Festival

The final night is always a blast, especially if you dress in costume. Get know the local chefs, restaurants and wineries while sampling oyster-centric dishes.

Osoyoos Oyster Festival

The complete line-up for the Osoyoos Oyster Festival for 2016 includes:

Miradoro Long Table Dinner, April 20
Enjoy a special evening at Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Winery, starting with freshly shucked oysters followed by a three-course dinner dedicated to the oyster.
Tickets: $39

Under the Tuscan Sea at Terrafina, April 21
Terrafina at Hester Creek Estate Winery invites guests to sample pizza and oysters paired with spring releases from Hester Creek and tastings from the winery’s ‘bubbly’ neighbours.
Tickets: $49

2016 Oyster Open at the Greenside Grill, April 21
Mingle, mix, slurp and sip at the Greenside Grill at the Osoyoos Golf Club. The event will feature oysters, along with appetizers for non-oyster eaters, and a tasting station of assorted alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Tickets: $50

whisky and oysters

Whiskey & Oysters at SOL Grillroom & Lounge, April 22
SOL Grillroom & Lounge at the Holiday Inn will host this intimate event (limited ticket release) which includes a variety of fresh oysters, whiskey pairings and various dishes from the kitchen. With special guest Patrick McMurray (“Shucker Paddy”) in attendance.
Tickets: $50

International Oyster Night at Spirit Ridge at Nk’Mip Resort, April 22
Featuring internationally-inspired oyster dishes from local restaurants and chefs, special guest Patrick McMurray (“Shucker Paddy”) shucking fresh oysters from several different regions courtesy of Codfathers Seafood Market, and local wineries pouring their best.
Tickets: $55

Deep Sea Garden Party at Walnut Beach Resort, April 23
This al fresco afternoon event will feature special guest Patrick McMurray (“Shucker Paddy”) shucking fresh oysters courtesy of Codfathers Seafood Market, culinary delights from local restaurants and chefs, and wine and beer from local wineries and craft breweries.
Tickets: $45

Amateur Shuck ‘n Suck Competition at The Sage Pub, April 23
Come to compete or come to cheer at the 5th Amateur Shuck ‘n Suck Competition as teams of two compete to win the coveted title of the Best Shuck n’ Suck Team in the Okanagan.
Tickets: $10

Art of the Oyster Pearl Gala at Spirit Ridge at Nk’Mip Resort, April 23
The signature event of the festival will feature oyster dishes from local restaurants and chefs, served alongside award-winning local wines, with special guest Patrick McMurray (“Shucker Paddy”) shucking fresh oysters courtesy of Codfathers Seafood Market. Results of the Canadian Oyster Wine Competition and the Canadian Oyster Beer Competition will be announced. Cocktails, wine and canapes will be followed by dancing until midnight.
Tickets: $60

Under the Sea Brunch at Watermark Beach Resort, April 24
Watermark Beach Resort’s Chef Adair Scott will prepare a bountiful brunch featuring a selection of raw and hot oysters.
Tickets: $39