Monday, May 31, 2010

Aloha, Meatless Mondays!

With the warmer summer weather here - at long last! - Mondays make the perfect day to go in for the hottest trend sweeping across North America...Meatless Mondays!

Meatless Monday Movement is gaining support all over the U.S.. Even Mario Batali has joined ranks with Al Gore, Gwyneth Paltrow and Simon Cowell to support the cause.

Japanese Ivies Grow Monday Movement

Veggie Monday in JapanJapan has become the latest country to embrace the growing Meatless Monday movement! Students at four of Japan’s Ivy League colleges are hosting monthly ‘Veggie Monday’ parties to encourage the country to try more plant-based options.

Batali's 14 restaurants across the Lower 48 will promote meat free Mondays by offering two (at least two!) veggie entrees, pizza and pastas. They're even going in for using a Meatless Monday Logo.

Did you know that Meatless is not just good for you but also the planet, too?! Livestock production creates more greenhouse gases than transportation. Choosing beans or beets or edamame over meat even one day a week helps to lighten your carbon footprint (too!). Meatless Mondays and Healthy People for a Healthy Planet! 

Aloha Pineapple Rice..."Ono!!" (means Delicious! in Hawaiian!)

[Can't See The Video? Click HERE]

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Like It Or Not, Hollywood Is Here

Tired of wine tasting? Be a star for a day...or just act like one!

Twentieth Century Fox - the same studio that brought you Avatar - is auditioning extras for their new movie, The Big Year, starring Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black.

Owen Wilson stars in The Big Year, 20th Century Fox

Auditions are being held May 29th at Spirit Ridge Resort in Osoyoos, South Okanagan.  You must be 25yrs. old to senior, legal to work in Canada and love the limelight!

Jack Black stars in The Big Year, 20th Century Fox

Show up between 10am and 5pm to try out for the movie as an extra. Must be available to work June 7th and 8th all day long, that means early morning to late at night. This is your chance to see how the glamorous movie world called "Hollywood" is really long grueling days of working on set.

Knowledge of the local wineries and artisanal food producers a plus! (Ok, we added that, but if we know anything about movie people, they love good wine and food as much as the next person!). Oh, and, break a leg...

Steve Martin stars in The Big Year,
20th Century Fox

Plot Summary: Based on Mark Obmascik's 1998 book "The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession," the film is about three men who try to outdo each other in a bird-watching competition to spot the rarest birds in North America. The rivalry is an allegory for the challenges each faces in his own life.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Okanagan Spring Wine Awards

Spring Wine Picks. Image Courtesy
The Wine Festivals.
If you're looking forward to a long weekend of wine, here are some of the Spring Releases you'll want to sip and swirl.

The  Okanagan Wine Awards, part of The Wine Festivals, noted these vintages in last week's award ceremonies. Of course, it's up to you to taste and decide for yourself which ones you like

Mixed Red Varietals

  • Winner Hillside Estate Winery Pinotage 2008
    Finalists The View Winery Pinotage 2008
    Sandhill Wines Small Lots Sangiovese 2007
    Inniskillin Okanagan Winery Discovery Series Malbec 2007

White Blend

  • Winner Road 13 Vineyards Stemwinder 2009
    Finalists Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery Desert Sun 2009
    Intrigue Wines Nine 2009
    Blasted Church Vineyards Hatfield’s Fuse 2009
    Silkscarf winery Riesling Muscat 2009


  • Winner Sandhill Wines Small Lots Syrah 2008
    Finalists See Ya Later Ranch Rover 2007
    Mission Hill Family Estate Select Lot Collection Syrah 2007
    Painted Rock Estate Winery Painted Rock Syrah 2007
    Sandhill Wines Syrah 2008

Mixed White Varietals

  • Winner CedarCreek Estate Winery Ehrenfelser 2009
    Finalists Road 13 Vineyards Old Vines Chenin Blanc 2009
    Arrowleaf Cellars Bacchus 2009
    Hillside Estate Winery Muscat Ottonel 2009

Other Icewine/Late Harvest

  • Winner Inniskillin Okanagan Winery Discovery Series Tempranillo Icewine 2008
  • Finalists Rollingdale Winery Sweet Tooth Series Pinot Gris Icewine 2008
  • Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery The Lost Bars Vidal Icewine 2007

Cabernet Franc

  • Winner Peller Estates Winery Family Series Cabernet Franc 2008
    Finalist Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2007

Pinot Gris

  • Winner Pentage Winery Pinot Gris 2008
    Finalists CedarCreek Estate Winery Pinot Gris 2009
    Arrowleaf Cellars Pinot Gris 2009
    See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Gris 2008
    Wild Goose Vineyards Mystic River Pinot Gris 2009

Pinot Noir

  • Winner Road 13 Vineyards Jackpot Pinot Noir 2007
    Finalists Arrowleaf Cellars Pinot Noir 2008
    CedarCreek Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2007
    Nk’Mip Cellars Pinot Noir 2008
    Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir 2008

Unoaked Chardonnay

Winner Blasted Church Vineyards Chardonnay Musque 2009
Finalist Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Townsend Jack Unoaked Chardonnay 2008


  • Winner Hillside Estate Winery Gewurztraminer 2009
    Finalists Arrowleaf Cellars Solstice Gewurztraminer 2009
    Gray Monk Estate Winery Gewurztraminer 2008
    Sumac Ridge Estate Winery Gewurztraminer 2008
    The View Winery Gewurztraminer 2009

Fruit Wine

  • Winner Forbidden Fruit Winery Plumiscuous Plum Mistelle 2009
    Finalist Forbidden Fruit Winery Cherysh Cherry Rose 2009

Red Blend

  • Winner Twisted Tree Vineyards and Winery Long Creek Red Second Crossing 2007
    Finalists Dunham & Froese Estate Winery Amicitia Red Blend 2008
    Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Propreitors’ Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2007


  • Winner Sandhill Wines Small Lots Single Block Chardonnay 2008
    Finalists See Ya Later Ranch Chardonnay 2008
    Peller Estates Winery Private Reserve Chardonnay 2008
    Painted Rock Estate Winery Chardonnay 2008

Red Meritage Blend

  • Winner Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Meritage 2007
    Finalists Painted Rock Estate Winery Red Icon 2007
    Sandhill Wines Small Lots Two 2007
    Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate SunRock Vineyard Red Meritage 2007
    Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery Obra-Prima 2007
    Twisted Tree Vineyards and Winery Six Vines 2008


  • Winner Nk’Mip Cellars Riesling 2008
    Finalists See Ya Later Ranch Riesling 2008
    Intrigue Wines Riesling 2009


  • Winner Stag’s Hollow Winery & Vineyard Syrah Rose 2009
    Finalists See Ya Later Ranch Nelly 2008
    Mission Hill Family Estate Five Vineyards Rose 2009
    Red Rooster Winery Rose 2009

Riesling Icewine

  • Winner Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors’ Reserve Riesling Icewine 2007
    Finalist Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Rielsing Icewine 2007


Winners Sumac Ridge Estate Winery Sparkling Gewurztraminer 2008
Sumac Ridge Estate Winery Sparkling Rose 2008


  • Winner Painted Rock Estate Winery Painted Rock Merlot 2007
    Finalists CedarCreek Estate Winery Merlot 2007
    Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Major Allan’ Merlot 2007
    Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Propreitor’s Grand Reserve Merlot 2007
    Sandhill Wines Small Lots Single Block Merlot 2007
    Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Tinhorn Creek Merlot 2007
    Cassini Cellars Nobilus 2008
    Sandhill Wines Merlot 2008

Pinot Blanc

  • Winner Wild Goose Vineyards Mystic River Pinot Blanc 2009
    Finalists Artisan Wine Co. White Bear Pinot Blanc 2008
    Peller Estates Winery Family Series Pinot Blanc 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Winner Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
    Finalists Peller Estates Winery Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
    Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Propreitors’ Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
    Church & State Wines Coyote Bowl Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Sauvignon Blanc

  • Winner Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Propreitors’ Edition Sauvignon Blanc 2009
    Finalists Blasted Church Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2009
    Artisan Wine Co. White Bear Sauvignon Blanc 2008


  • Winner Sandhill Wines Small Lots Viognier 2009
    Finalist Red Rooster Winery Viognier 2009

2010  Best of Varietal Wine Awards

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fun With Okanagan Food And Wine

Fun With Food And Wine

Okanagan Wine Culture, Wine and Canines
“When you were a kid, fun was when you piled in the car with your family and a few friends and went to the ice cream shop for a cone. Now, fun is when you pile into the car with a few friends and your significant other and head out for an afternoon of wine tastings at the local boutique wineries,” says Jeremy Luypen, Executive Chef at Passa Tempo restaurant at Spirit Ridge. He's speaking from a perspective of a certain amount of privilege, but not necessarily the silver spoon variety. Rather, the privilege comes from choosing to live in a region wealthy with grape vines and dotted with boutique wineries, and knowing how to make full use of the bounty he finds within his reach.

The Okanagan is a valley whose bounty and beauty stare you in the face, but which many can be blind to, or make themselves blind to. Again, it comes down to a matter of perspective. “Every winery in the valley makes at least two or three good wines. At least two or three. The thing to do is to figure out, by going to the wineries' tasting rooms or getting together with friends for tastings, which ones you like,” advises Luypen. “Wine tastings are fun,” he adds, “It's a chance for you and your girlfriend to go out without going to a nightclub.”

Wine Tastings With Friends

During the winter he and his friends have been “growing their wine community,” he explains. What they do is hold wine tastings twice a month on Sundays. They invite about 15-20 people who each show up with a bottle of wine and then they do blind tastings. “We tried 20 Chardonnays one night. We had 10 new world, 10 old world. All different price points. It's fun to watch a $25 bottle of Chardonnay win over something that's more expensive simply because people like it,” he says. They did one similarly with champagne where his friends brought bottles ranging in price points from $375 on down to $27. “The $27 bottle of bubbly from South Africa won,” he recounted, impressed by the surprise outcome.

Wine tastings are a favorite topic of this accomplished chef who is currently getting additional certification as a sommelier. He says he's fond of explaining to his Mom that, “Drinking wine is part of my job description” and also adds that Valley resident Ingo Grady, the wine educator at Mission Hill, is “One of the smartest people I know when it comes to wine.”

Jeremy has a couple of simple, basic pointers when it comes to food and wine pairings. He advises that when you serve a complex meal, couple it with simple wine. When you have complex wine, serve a simple meal. “Out of every meal and every glass of wine, there's always only ever going to be one that's going to be the star. Either the wine or the food,” he explains.

Sablefish, Passa Tempo Restaurant

Okanagan Culinary Culture
The years this Okanagan College Culinary Arts graduate spent in Calgary at the Chicago Chophouse taught him a few tricks, as much in people management skills as in cooking. “I've read at least as many books on psychology and philosophy as I have cookbooks,” explains Luypen who also currently teaches courses at Okanagan College. He attributes the loyalty he inspires in his kitchen team to people skills. “Show them a lot of respect, take an interest in their lives and their families, and they'll reward you with hard work,” says Luypen, who recalls a young man he once hired when he ran the Hotel El Dorado's dining room in Kelowna who cleaned hundreds of mussels every night for two months for the 490-seat restaurant. “After two months we promoted him, knowing that whatever I asked him to do in the kitchen, he'd do.”

Luypen also speaks fondly about the culture that has sprung up among the Chefs in the Okanagan Valley. “Chefs in the Valley are becoming so much fun,” says Luypen, “We're making guest appearances in each other's restaurants, doing Iron Chef cook-offs and teaming up for Wine Dinners.” During the years that Luypen was at Calgary's Chicago Chophouse, Ned Bell was across the way at the Vintage Chophouse. A friendly rivalry between the two Executive Chefs continues today, when both once again find themselves working in the same culinary community.

“We'll do wine dinners, for example, where all the ingredients are the same and the wine pairings are the same, and then it's up to the chefs to put their distinguishing touch on the dishes. Lobster, for example, people often think there's only one way to prepare a lobster. But in fact there are more options than just boiling it, especially depending on what wine you are asked to pair it with,” explains Luypen. This is where a chef can really show his artistic as well as culinary skills and that extra talent, that je ne sais quois, that comes with the most intuitive of culinary masters.

Luypen is the last to take the profession too seriously, however. “Chef jackets look like a straight jacket for a reason,” he'll tell you with a laugh. And then in the next moment, in all somberness, will tell you that the hardest part of the job is “telling your kid you can't be at his hockey games,” because of the brutal hours that go along with being a Head Chef.

Passa Tempo
Five weeks into his Passa Tempo gig, and Luypen is already very happy with his move. The restaurant's capacity has much fewer seatings than his previous job at the Hotel Eldorado.

Kettle Valley And Gewurz Slushes

Take, for example, when you get him onto the topic of the Naramata Bench. He's got lots of favorites out in this exquisite little area that fronts the Lake (wine! afterall!) but don't even get him started on Kettle Valley Winery and their Gewurz slushes. “One day my friends and I had had a long day of wine tasting where we'd started at 11 and gone until 5, stopping only for lunch. Our last stop on the Naramata Bench was Kettle Valley which is at the very end. Basically it's this lady who sells her wine out of her garage. She offered us the absolute best Gewurz slushes – it was something like 35 degrees out that afternoon and she just blended us all up these fantastic Gewurztraminer slushes and we sat around her plastic picnic table and drank down those ice cold slushes. It was absolutely the best!”

That's what he loves most about his valley, he says. It's that you can go from the imposing magnificence of a Mission Hill, even the tasteful elegance of a Quail's Gate and then on over to the humbleness of a Kettle Valley at the end of the Naramata Bench – and all experiences will be equally as exquisitely memorable – gratifying in their own way.

Another area on his favorites page is the section of North Okanagan where there's a triumvirate of Gray Monk, Arrowleaf Cellars and Ex Nihilo. “They have put together the ultimate wedding package,” he says “You can literally walk between each of the wineries. Start off at  Arrowleaf where their plantation perch and rolling green hills overlook Okanagan Lake, making it a perfect setting for a wedding; then walk over to Ex Nihilo Vineyards for some wine tasting and tapas and top it off at Gray Monk estates, also a walkable only few hundred yards away, with an excellent dinner,” he says, explaining that Ex Nihilo is affiliated with the Rolling Stone winery out of Napa and has built out a “beautiful tasting room.”
Sounds to us like there's summers – and seasons – of fun to be had with Okanagan Food And Wine.  PassaTempoRestaurant. 

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