Category Archives: Culinary Journeys

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.

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

 

Holiday Season Getaway at Victoria’s Magnolia Hotel

While there’s much to do in Vancouver during the holiday season, there’s a certain special vibe across the straight, in Victoria. I nipped over for a few night’s in November for a sneak peak of the Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s Christmas in Victoria package, available until January 2.

helijet

Why not leave the car at home and fly over on the Helijet as flights start at $159 this time of year and they’ll drop you off at the hotel if you ask nicely (kids under 12 yrs fly for free)! There’s so much to do downtown this time of year, and you can do it all on foot.

The Magnolia is right in the heart of downtown Victoria, minutes from the harbour, shopping, holiday lights and sites and fab dining experiences.

Book a Diamond room and you’ll find oversized beds, soaker tubs, cozy gas fireplaces and lots of indulgent treats such as the hot chocolate and baileys for before bed.

There’s two very cool routes that the hotel has put together for this time of year; one is the Tapa Trail and the other the Festive Trail.

The Tapa Trail includes the following. I have have been to a few that I have starred and therefore can give them thumbs up, but I’ve heard good things about all.

*The Magnolia’s Catalano Restaurant & Cicchetti Bar – Mediterranean inspired. Enoy Venetian style cicchetti (Italian for small bites) at the bar.  619 Courtney Street Twitter @cicchettibar

*Chorizo & Co – Love love love this spot! Great chorizo sausage from a family recipe, tapas and paella parties. 807 Fort Street Twitter @ChorizoandCo

Bodega Bar Spanish cuisine from pinchos to a Barcelona board featuring Spanish charcuterie. 1210 Broad Street

Tapa Bar – Meat and seafood and veggie dishes to share. 620 Trounce Alley

Northern Quarter Bar – live performances – meat or cheese boards. 1724 Douglas Street

The Drake Eatery – British pub style and local craft beer. 517 Pandora Avenue

Perro Negro – Located above Ferris Grill. wide range of cocktails, sherry and wine from Spain. 536 Yates Street Twitter @perronegrotapas

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*Little Jumbo Restaurant – Stellar cocktail list an inventive Canadian cuisine. Do not miss the duck fat fried frites! 506 Fort Street – photo from their website.

*10 Acres Bistro Smaller plates made with loacal, seasonal ingredients 611 Courtney Street Twitter @10acresbistro

nutcracker

Additionally through the holiday season the Magnolia Hotel’s Festive Trail captures the town’s spirit. Take in a performance of Alberta Ballet’s The Nutcracker, try outdoor ice-skating, a Ferris Wheel ride in Centennial Square, free horse-drawn trolley ride, visit the Festival of Trees at The Bay Centre, head to the Inn at Laurel Point for Gingerbread displays or check out the IMAX Polar Express adventure at the Royal BC Museum. Check in with the hotel’s concierge for more. The Hotel’s Catalano Restaurant and Cicchetti Bar will do a holiday feast on December 25 as well.

magnolia suite bed sweets

Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s Christmas in Victoria package starts from $189 per night, and includes a special gift of a $25 voucher, per day, to use towards in-room dining, Spa Magnolia, Catalano Restaurant, mini-bar treats or parking. The price includes a continental breakfast as well.

To book Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s Christmas package call 1-877-624-6654 or visit www.magnoliahotel.com.

Salt Spring Island Apple Festival

Get to know your Millionaires from your Lord Derby’s at the Annual Salt Spring Island Apple Festival

Before apple trees were planted in the Okanagan Valley, Salt Spring Island was growing an assortment of the fruit as early as 1860. To celebrate, the Island holds a festival  celebrating the apple with apple displays, pie sales and apple orchard visits each harvest. There are now over 350 varieties grown on the Island, all organicallly. We joined the celebrations on Salt Spring Island this fall as it was a great opportunity to fully test drive another vehicle, stay at one of our favourite hotels and, of course, eat our share of apples.Honda HR-V

We tested the Honda HR-V, a subcompact SUV with plenty of cool feaures. The vehicle model is new for this year and has an attractive and sporty design. It is super roomy inside, has top of the line safety features and zips in and out of parking spots easily. For all the specs on the car and more check out our full review here.BC Ferries

October is generally a good month to visit Salt Spring Island as the sun is out most days and the air is crisp but still fairly warm. It can rain, but luckily for us, it didn’t. The sail over on BC Ferries is easier if you take just one ferry, instead of changing over in Swartz Bay but you’ll have to plan and reserve ahead to get the best route.

I was traveling with my girlfriend Tess and it was her first time to the Island and the farmers market was at the top of her list, so we made sure we had some time to check it out and sampled some apples, apple fritters and apple tarts to get us in the festive mood. The cheeses on the Island are unbelievable, both Salt Spring Island Cheese and Moonstruck Organic, so don’t leave the market or the Island without trying and buying a few types.
James Beard
We also went for a quick shop in the stores around the small town, and I even found an vintage James Beard book and a punch bowl at the charity store!

Hastings House

We were staying at Hastings House, which is a gorgeous ocean front

country hotel with a restaurant that grows much of it’s own produce. The property is Relais and Chateau and their standards are indeed set high; even the cot that Tess stayed on was insanely comfortable and there’s a daily complementary afternoon tea in the manor. We had dinner booked at the hotel as I’ve had some fantastic meals there and went for a pre-dinner drink just down the Hill Unfortunatley, the very moment we returned for dinner the power went out, and stayed out, so we had to quickly grab one of the few taxis on the Island and make other plans! A bit of drama, but we took it in stride!

Auntie Pestos

Fortunately there was only a brief wait at Auntie Pestos, a favourite of mine on the Island and the meal was fantastic. We went for the a spinach salad, Salt Spring Mussels, an incredibly butter-like tender steak that we are still talking about and headed back to Hastings House for bed.

Salt Spring Apple Festival

Apple PieSunday’s apple festival started at Fulford Hall with a display of endless apples and plenty of apple pie!

A little bit on the Honda HR-V and the festival in this “super” video!

Salt Spring Island Bread Lady

Salt Spring Island Apple FestivalFrom there the options of apple viewing were vast, but we plotted a route and hit some of the larger orchards and thankfully one where not only was lunch served, but where I purchased some of the best bread I’ve ever tasted.  We sat on the patio with a stellar view out across the Island and enjoyed some BBQ pork and chicken. I learned later that this was the home of Salt Springs famous Bread Lady and I am hooked on the garlic and cheese bread. Sadly, I had only bought one loaf!

While there’s several worthwhile wineries to visit, the newish Salt Spring Ales Brewery was right on the route and they’d even done an apple beer for the festival. When in need of gifts for my partner, Michael, I can always count on beer!

The ferry took the long route home, stopping at a few other Gulf Islands but we had plenty to read and it was a nice wind down to a rather special apple-filled weekend.

*Honda provided the HR-V for our test drive and supplemented our trip expenses.
*Thank you to Hastings House for the lovely accomodations.

Kamloops Wine Country – Vitamin Daily

We visited Kamloops Wine Country and reported our adventures on Vitamin Daily and the story got picked up by the Huffington Post.

Once home to fur traders, gold miners and infamous train robber Billy Miner, Kamloops, B.C., now boasts lush farms, a stunning riverfront and the recently created Kamloops Wine Trail. Not one to miss out on a day of wine tasting (not to mention exploring, shopping and spa-ing), we packed our bags and drove straight there.

Kamloops Wine Country

stay: The Plaza Hotel, Kamloops’ oldest tall building, is right in the thick of downtown, with spacious rooms and beds we were hard-pressed to leave in the morning (had it not been for the promise of wine). Check out the hotel’s Fireside Steakhouse & Bar for delicious, locally sourced beef. The Plaza Hotel, 405 Victoria St., Kamloops, 250-377-8075, www.theplazahotel.ca

explore: Downtown Kamloops exudes a cool “antique” feel, meaning every visit should include a stop at the Kamloops Museum & Archives, where you can currently catch a fascinating exhibit by Mary Spencer, one of Canada’s first female photographers. Kamloops Museum & Archives, 207 Seymour St., Kamloops, 250-828-3576, www.kamloops.ca/museum

Read the rest of the story here:

Discover Comox at the BC Shellfish Festival

Where’s your happy place? I always feel like I’m in a pretty damn happy place when I’m on Vancouver Island. While I love the Mainland, road trips to the Island feel like a true escape and I can actually sense the pace of my thoughts slowing down. Whether I’m roaming the streets of Victoria, the hills of the Cowichan Valley, the beaches of Qualicum or Tofino or biking through the Comox countryside, there’s most likely a big grin on my face. So, when Honda asked followers on twitter to name a happy place and enter to win $1,000 towards a trip to it, I tweeted just that and WOO HOO!!! I actually won the contest!

honda

With my new found winnings in hand, and also, very conveniently a 2015 Honda Fit (review here) to drive, I boarded BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay over to Nanaimo and then drove up to The Comox Valley for their annual BC Shellfish Festival! Check the BC Ferries website for fall specials and accommodation and travel packages! Lots of deals on.

The festival includes a full week and more of events, everything from oyster farm tours, to wine and shellfish dinners and champagne seafood brunch.

I checked into the Old House Village Hotel in Courtney and got ready for the evenings adventures. Super great spot with roomy rooms and en-suite laundry and kitchens should you need to stay a while.

First up was the Prime Chophouse Wine Bar‘s 40 Knots Winery and Seafood Dinner. Starting with some Comox Valley Hollie Wood oysters and 40 Knots Winery Spindrift Brut we sampled dishes showcasing the best of the region along with the estate wines from this very local winery.  I wrote more about 40 Knots in BC Wine Trails Magazine here.

The following day we hit the ocean to check out a Deep Water Oyster Farm Tour onboard Comox Harbour Charters. Cruising throught the Baynes Sound we ventured over to the shores of Denman Island to visit Hollie Wood Oysters oyster growing site. We sample oysters from the farm and then enjoyed there clams and oysters cooked right onboard. All washed down with an oyster stout made by Victoria’s Spinnakers Brewery and these same oysters, so perfect!

BC Shellfish Festival Salmon

The highlight of the festival, every year (I’ve been to two others) is the Gala Dinner held among the gardens of Filberg Park and Lodge, overlooking Comox Harbour and the Beaufort Mountain Range. Starting with oyster raw bars with a variety of oysters from different regions of the BC coast, the reception is then followed by six courses, each plate designed by a different chef along with a selection of BC wines.

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BC Shellfish Festival

The list of 2015 Featured Chefs included: James Walt, from Araxi, Whistler, Mariana Gabilondo, from Gowlland Harbour Resort, Quadra Island, Gabriel Fayerman-Hansen from Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa, Brentwood Bay, Nicholas Nutting, from Wolf in the Fog, Tofino, Trevor Bird, from Fable, Vancouver and Greg MacDonald, from The Waverley Hotel, Cumberland. Chef Aaron Rail, of The White Whale in Courtenay coordinated this feast and the chefs all banded together to assist in each others courses.

The setting, food and wines makes for a truly magical evening.

Saturday’s Comox by the Sea Celebration at Filberg  Park is all about roaming the park and sampling shellfish and seafood tastings prepared by chefs and seafood producers. And there’s a beer and wine garden and chowder competition to round things out.

Next year’s Shellfish Festival will be June 10-19, 2016 and I’ll certainly be posting about it well in advance, and, with any luck, will be there again.

Costa Mesa – Avenue of the Arts Hotel #TravelCostaMesa

Whether you are heading to Costa Mesa to shop at South Coast Plaza, play at Disneyland, hit the nearby beaches, or attend an event at one of the city’s many art centers, you are going to want to spend a few days to explore the vibrant area. I suggest you book into the Wyndham Avenue of the Arts Hotel and stay a while. The hotel is on the “Avenue of the Arts,” just across the street from Segerstrom Center for the Arts and a quick 3 miles from the John Wayne Airport (Orange County).

You can win your own $2500 getaway to Costa Mesa until May 6, 2015 Just click that link! 

Wyndam

wyndam3

The property is just steps from South Coast Plaza and set on a tranquil lakeside property. A full gym, onsite restaurant and bar,  granite baths and hardwood flooring, and an executive work desk with ergonomic chair, wireless internet, flat screen television, organic bath toiletries, complete the package, and all guestrooms offer charming views of the lake and private gardens, and full walk-out balconies. Here I am enjoying the warm weather and my view of the lake.

SilverTrumpet_Lounge

I checked into the hotel for my adventure and booked it to the bar for a local craft beer before dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, The Silver Trumpet. You will definitely want to put aside some time to linger in the comfortable lounge and dine on Chef Eddie Garcia’s tasty cuisine.

Lucky for us we did a menu sampling and my only complaint? So much food. Especially loved the scallops and the roast chicken.

wyndam2

Spacious rooms and the comfy desk chair meant I could get some work done.

Breakfast Tacos

I took advantage of the in room dining and ordered up some hearty short rib breakfast tacos to prepare myself for a day of serious shopping at the nearby South Coast Plaza.

Win your own $2500 getaway to Costa Mesa until May 6, 2015.

*This trip was made possible by Travel Costa Mesa, John Wayne Airport and Avenue of the Arts Hotel. All thoughts on this site are always my very own.

Tea Tour with Silk Road Tea

BC’s Daniela Cubelic of Silk Road Tea takes guests on a journey that celebrates India’s ancient culture and vibrant tea and culinary scene

Silk Road’s India Tea & Spice Journey – March 17 – 31, 2013

A remarkable tea and culinary expedition through India is being launched next spring, March 17 – 31, 2013, with Tea Master Daniela Cubelic of Silk Road Tea and organized by Richmond BC’s Indus Travels.
Silk Road’s India Tea & Spice Journey is a 14-night/ 15-day tour led by Cubelic. The one of a kind journey starts in Delhi and ends in Udaipur, encompassing India’s famous Golden Triangle. The itinerary takes guests to the tea capital of Darjeeling, and includes private tours of world renowned tea estates, monasteries and UNESCO World Heritage sites across India. In collaboration with Indus Travels, Cubelic has also chosen to highlight local farm communities so guests can experience first hand sustainable organic farming practices, and meet local families while sharing tea and meals. Darjeeling is one of the world’s premiere tea producing regions, equally famous for its unique terroir, known to produce superb teas, as well as its majestic beauty. The region is surrounded by hilly terrain, with incredible mountain vistas.
“As a tea master, I wanted to provide a journey that offers my own unique perspective on one of the most important tea producing regions in the world,” says Cubelic. “As well as visiting the many spectacular destination gems and attractions India is famous for, we will taste some of the world’s most remarkable teas, enjoy local cuisine and discover opportunities to interact with local communities.”
Destinations visited along the way include Delhi, Darjeeling, Agra, Jaipur, Deogarh, Udaipur, and staying at a choice of deluxe and luxury hotels chosen for their attention to detail, level of service and location. Prices for this specialty guided tour are CAD $4495 per person (deluxe hotels), based on double occupancy. Single supplement is available upon request.
Included within the tour package are all breakfasts, 13 lunches and dinners; transportation as per the detailed itinerary within India; special experiences like a rickshaw ride in Delhi; elephant ride in Jaipur; walking tours; some entrance fees; coach transfers; and the guidance of a fully experienced local tour director throughout the tour. Extra costs include round trip airfare to India, camera fees, some entrance fees and meals not included within the itinerary.  A full description and more information on the choice of hotel accommodation may be found at www.industravels.ca and by calling 1-866-978-2997.
Cubelic chose Indus Travels based on their reputation and high percentage of repeat guests. In 2007, 2008, 2010 & 2011 Indus was voted as India’s Ministry of Tourism’s Best Tour Operator to India from America’s and Indus was also recognized as one of the top adventure tour operators in Canada by Canadian retail travel agents. Also important to Cubelic was Indus’ commitment to supporting local businesses and giving back to local communities. Partial proceeds from every tour payment go toward sponsoring street children in India. To do this, Indus works closely with the Salaam Baalak Trust, which operates five 24-hour full care shelters for children.
“We worked with Daniela to design this tea, cultural and culinary expedition so that guests will truly uncover the soul of this ancient civilization,” says Praveen Syal, founder and managing director of Indus Travel. “With Daniela as our guide, guests will experience Indian tea like never before, while learning about the inspiring ecologically sustainable practices and passion of the producers who are truly world leaders in tea production. We then enhanced the itinerary with off the beaten path and traditional experiences that embrace the essence of India.”
About Daniela Cubelic and Silk Road Tea
A native of Victoria (Canada’s tea capital), Daniela Cubelic’s love for tea, tea culture and wellness is, well, steeped in her veins.   A childhood aspiration to travel, work in the Foreign Service and eventually become an ambassador led her to where she is today –an ambassador for the global, dynamic culture of tea. After 10 years of intensive training in her early 20’s with Chinese and Taiwanese tea masters and herbalists, Cubelic achieved tea master status in 1995. This was just a few years following the opening of Silk Road Tea in Victoria’s revitalized Chinatown , which today  is celebrating 20 years of creating a devoted following  of tea lovers in BC’s capital city as well as from across Canada. Cubelic has been named Canada’s Queen of Tea (Globe & Mail, Jan 2012), Canada’s Tea Master and identified as a key influencer in Canada’s culinary scene (Western Living’s top 40 Foodies).
Enhanced by her intensive training, Cubelic’s world wide network allows her the ability to source the world’s finest organic, rare, single-estate and exotic teas. Today, Silk Road offers over 100 blends, hand chosen by Cubelic based on her clients’ changing tastes and her own creativity. Cubelic blends her own teas with names like Angelwater, Philosopher’s Brew, Seamist, Canton Orange, Sublime and Silk Road Chai, and recently added a new organic blend inspired by the teas of Vietnam, called “Monsoon” and a tribute tea for Victoria’s 150th anniversary. For more information, visit www.silkroadtea.com.

West Coast Fishing Club welcomes Canada’s celebrated chefs, David Hawksworth & Marc Thuet

B.C. Wilderness Adventure & Culinary Extravaganza July 22-26, 2012

One of the most exciting culinary events in the country returns for its sixth year at the West Coast Fishing Club, David Hawksworth & Friends Culinary Adventure 2012 will be hosted at The Clubhouse on Langara Island, one of the properties of West Coast Fishing Club’s collection of luxury fishing lodges, situated in Haida Gwaii, one of the most remote and breathtaking regions of the Pacific Northwest.

Chef Hawksworth, fresh from the hot opening of his first eponymous restaurant – Hawksworth (Best New Restaurant in Canada, Maclean’s magazine) – located at Vancouver’s Rosewood Hotel Georgia, is joined this year by celebrity Chef Marc Thuet. Thuet is best known for his gourmet food shop in Toronto – Petit Thuet – and more recently for his starring role in reality TV show Conviction Kitchen. Esteemed wine expert Mark Davidson (Sommelier and Wine Educator) will join the two chefs in presenting a weekend of gourmet chef dinners, hands on cooking classes and wine seminars, luxurious lodgings and incomparable fishing and outdoor wilderness adventures.

The Clubhouse is situated on Langara Island’s highest point offering spectacular views of pristine ocean and lush, green rain forest, not to mention the best salmon fishing in the world. This is the ultimate luxury retreat with a culinary twist showcasing Canada’s premier chefs from East and West.

Limited spaces remain for David Hawksworth & Friends Culinary Adventure, costing from $6,500 per person, which includes accommodation, all meals, transfers from YVR South Terminal, fishing and equipment with an experienced guide, seminars, dinners and cooking classes. For more information call toll-free 1-888-432-6666 or visit www.westcoastfishingclub.com.

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About West Coast Fishing Club
West Coast Fishing Club offers guests the most exclusive fishing adventures on the coast. Four unique, luxurious fishing properties, each spectacularly located, feature world-class fishing, accommodation, food and wine, service and staff. Guests have access to the most abundant runs of salmon on the coast, simply the best boats and equipment and the most knowledgeable guides. West Coast Fishing Club prides itself on its dedication to the local community and the urgent need to maintain wilderness resources for future generations. www.westcoastfishingclub.com

About Chef David Hawksworth & Hawksworth Restaurant

The personal dream of one of Canada’s foremost masters of cuisine, Hawksworth Restaurant, located at the legendary Rosewood Hotel Georgia, in the heart of downtown Vancouver fuses together a illustrious past with a radiant future. Embracing contemporary Canadian cuisine, the goal is to set forth a culinary legacy rooted in regional produce while celebrating the cultural diversity of Vancouver. Located at 801 West Georgia St. at the corner of Howe, at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia – for reservations and more information visit www.hawksworthrestaurant.com or telephone: 604.673.7000.