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If you think our Okanagan trip ended on the Golden Mile Bench, you’re wrong. We decided to venture further north, driving more than 50 km, to Penticton, and visit another famous wine region – Naramata Bench. That area has just as many, if not more, wineries as Oliver/Osoyoos. We only had time to check out four wineries, so it was really difficult to shortlist from the dozens of wineries in the area.

Nichol Vineyard

Wines Along the Naramata Bench

The wineries in this area are situated above sand cliffs that rise from the Okanagan Lake, with vineyards sloping up to the mountains behind. While you are enjoying some great wine, you will also get to take in a gorgeous view of the Okanagan Lake. Here is a recap of the wineries we visited, and wines we liked and didn’t like, strictly from a personal preference standpoint.

Nichol Vineyard

While most wineries in the region compete with each other over attractive signage, or even grandiose wine shop and tasting room, Nichol goes for the opposite. Located at the north most end of the Naramata Bench, if you don’t pay close attention, you might actually miss the turn-off to the winery.

It’s a neat little wine shop at the top of the vineyard, and it looks just like someone’s house. But it has some patio seating that allows you to enjoy a glass of wine, or even your packed lunch, over this view:

View at Nichol Vineyard

Because they sold out some of the varietals over a busy summer, we only got to try 4 of their wines. The Pinot Gris is definitely the gem in the lineup. The grapes were gently crushed and left to settle on the skins for 36 hours, giving the wine this salmon hue and a hint of tannin. It’s dry, citrusy, with the aroma of stone fruit. I usually prefer slightly sweeter white but I really enjoyed this one.

I was hoping to try its Cab Franc but it wasn’t available for tasting. Now I need to try finding it elsewhere; I think I will like it as well.

Winery website: www.nicholvineyard.com

Nichol Vineyard

Bench 1775 Winery

Remember I talked about the lack of flashy sign for Nichol? What caught our attention about Bench 1775 was its successful use of signs — “Canada’s Best Pinot Gris”, “The Best View of the Lake” — now we’re intrigued.

Bench 1775 Winery

Bench 1775 certainly has a great view! What makes it better is that its patio is extended right to the water so you are much closer to the Okanagan Lake and the water view is quite spectacular.
Continue Reading »

Last year when we went camping in Oliver, we checked out a number of wineries along the Black Sage Bench. But Oliver is the Wine Capital of Canada, of course they have more wineries to offer! So when we were in Osoyoos this summer, we headed north and stopped by the wineries along the Golden Mile Bench, another area known for its great wines.

Vineyards along Golden Mile Bench

Wines Along the Golden Mile Bench

Keep in mind that while we drink a fair share of wine through the years, but we don’t consider ourselves wine experts. This post is more to share our experience at each winery. We picked out ones that we know of, or ones with an interesting name, or simply made an impulse turn based on how the winery looks. We will tell you what we like and what we don’t like, from a personal preference standpoint.

Rustico Farm & Cellars

Laugh all you want, but the name of this winery just caught my attention. Rustico – there must be something rustic about this place. And boy, were we in for a pleasant surprise! The heritage house, the vineyards, the donkey brothers and the tasting room – this just has so much character.

Rustico Farm & CellarsRustico Farm & Cellars

We got inside the “Tasting Saloon” and felt the warm welcome from the staff, even though the space was packed! Their wines all some have cheeky names. Among the number of wines we tried, here is what we liked:

  • Farmer’s Daughter – A dry Gewurztraminer, citrusy and fragrant
  • Saloon Sally – A Cabernet Franc Rose, surprisingly fruit forward
  • Last Chance – A red blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, Chancellor. Because they no longer plant the Chancellor, now is literally the last chance to purchase this wine.
  • Threesome - Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot blend. This has the body to pair with rich, saucy dishes, or just a nice piece of steak.

Winery website: rusticowinery.com

Rustico Farm & CellarsRustico Farm & Cellars

Road 13 Vineyards

I have tried Road 13’s wines a number of times. The most memorable was at the Vancouver Home + Design Show Pop-up Dinner last year. Therefore, I wanted to visit the winery and try a few more of their wines. As soon as we got there, we saw a castle at the end of Road 13 (yes, the street is called Road 13), overlooking a gorgeous view of the vineyard and beyond. If you are looking for a castle wedding, this is the place! Continue Reading »

In addition to Fliptop, we also discovered an interesting dessert truck at the Columbia StrEAT event. This truck sells one thing, an East European dessert called Slavic Roll, hence the truck name “Slavic Rolls”.

Slavic Rolls Truck

Food

The slavic roll is a big hollow donut-like pastry cylinder. They make it by wrapping a long strip of dough around this cylindrical baking apparatus, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, then it is placed in a rotisserie oven to bake.

Making Slavic Rolls

For $5.99 you get one Slavic Roll and two types of filling. They smear a healthy serving of filling on the two ends of the cylinder, give it a nice squish and they are ready to be eaten. You can get one with three fillings for $6.99.

Baked Slavic Roll

We ordered one with the Bavarian Cream and Nutella. Continue Reading »

Last weekend we checked out the Columbia StrEAT in New Westminster, featuring more than 50 food trucks from the Lower Mainland. We tried a few trucks, including Fliptop Filipino Fusion. This food truck is usually in the Fairview area during the week, not in my ‘hood, so I was quite excited about the opportunity to try them.

Fliptop Filipino Fusion

Food

Suggested by the truck name, their menu is a fusion of North American favourites with Filipino flavours. You would find pulled pork sandwich, philly cheesesteak, sliders and tacos with a Filipino twist. Two things caught my eyes.

First, Lumpiang Shanghai is the meat version of Lumpia, which are deep fried spring rolls in rice roll wrappers. These mini spring rolls were perfect for sharing, and they tasted awesome! I would’ve preferred just a bit more soy or seasoning in the meat, but I liked that there was a lot of meat in the filling, no fillers! Spring rolls were crispy, and we really enjoyed the sprinkle of nori (seaweed) and fried leeks on top. The dipping sauce reminded me of Thai chili sauce, but thinner and more acidic. $7 for 6 of these springs rolls was a pretty good deal.

Lumpiang Shanghai

Next was the Pacman Pandesal Sliders. Pandesal is Filipino bread roll; they were firmer, denser with a cake-like texture. Continue Reading »

Earlier this year a mysterious food truck showed up at the corner of Granville and West Pender, selling just two things: hamburgers or cheeseburgers. The truck didn’t seem to have a name, so it has just been called 2.85 Hamburger because, well, that’s how much it costs to get a burger there. Word has spread and many people have gone. I finally decided to give it a try.

Hamburger $2.85

Food

And yes, there are only two items. $2.85 for a hamburger or $3.50 for a cheeseburger. Tax extra. I ordered the Hamburger and it came to $3 after tax.

Hamburger $2.85

Wait time was minimal; I only waited for about 5 minutes after placing the order even though there were probably 10 other burgers in the making. Continue Reading »

With different Japanese izakayas popping up around town, it’s been forever since I last visited a Guu location. I remember the Thurlow location was my very first izakaya that I’ve visited in Vancouver and it was such a unique experience: the screaming servers, the exchange of Japanese throughout the room and the long list of small plates that we could order. It was so much fun I took a visiting guest to Guu Garlic after. Now, years later, I’m back.

Food

Guu Garlic’s name came from the extra use of garlic at this particular location, and it still holds true to this day. With my girlfriends, we ordered a number of dishes. First, the Salmon Sashimi didn’t look super fatty at first, but it’s actually quite good. It tasted fresh and did have a bit of the fatty texture.

Salmon Sashimi

And so we had an encore of sashimi. The Assorted Sashimi included salmon, scallops and tuna tataki. Not very many pieces so I’m not sure if it’s the best value, but the scallops were sweet and the tuna tataki was skillfully thinly seared on the outside.

Assorted Sashimi

Funny enough, we also ordered the Tuna Tataki (when a bunch of hungry women blindly ordering food off a menu, there could be a lot of similar items lol). The difference here was that they made it more like a salad by including some greens, ponzu sauce and a generous serving of crispy garlic chips (remember I talked about the use of garlic? Proof #1). I prefer this iteration of tuna tataki, using the slightly acidic ponzu sauce, over the sashimi version with just soy sauce.

Tuna Tataki

The last raw dish was the Yellow Tail Carpaccio. The flavour of yellow tail (hamachi) is quite delicate, so the sauce was a bit too over-powering in my opinion. The garlic chips (Proof #2) and sliced onion were actually a bit sweet (though also a bit spicy) so they did work with this plate.

Yellow Tail Carpaccio

Ebi Mayo is my must-have at all izakayas. Continue Reading »

I don’t eat out fast food very often; but when fast food joints release interesting menu items, I’m often intrigued and want to give it a try. Two recent items were Wendy’s Pretzel Burger and Tim Hortons’s Maple Breakfast Biscuit.

I’ve always been a huge fan of brioche buns, but lately I’ve found a new love in pretzel buns. Pretzel buns, not pretzels. In contrary to the eggy flavour, slight sweetness and pillowy texture in brioche buns, I also quite enjoy the slight saltiness and chewiness in pretzel buns. Traditional German pretzels are just too hard and chewy for my liking. That being said, Prohibition Tasting Room’s Pretzel Knots are also up there on my “have again” list of pretzel interpretation.

Not trusting burgers at fast food restaurants, Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, to my surprise, was quite good. Patty was of decent thickness, still juicy; I was worried that the bacon strips would be cooked to death, to extreme crisp, but they were still moist and added oily dripping mess to the burger. Pretzel bun was soft with a bit of a chew. By the way, you know how McDonald’s burgers look nothing like what they show in pictures/ads? My burger looked just like what they have on the website – now that’s impressive! Overall, a burger that I would actually eat again, and Mr. concurred.

Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger

Breakfast sandwich is another indulgence for me, a change of pace from my regular cereal breakfast. Continue Reading »

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