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West Oak recently celebrated its 5th anniversary in the Yaletown neighbourhood. As a follow-up, Areta, Alice (Double A!) and I were invited to a hosted dinner at the restaurant. I’ve been here a couple of times beforehand, one of which was an evening out with a few of my girlfriends a few years ago.

Disclosure: This meal was provided to me complimentary of the restaurant. However, the views and opinions are my own.

Food

We got a sneak peek of some of their new cocktails (from left):

New Cocktails at West Oak

The Aperol Spritzer Mimosa is their new take on the classic brunch cocktail. This is available only during brunch, but the restaurant made one for us to try. Aperol, prosecco, fresh juice (orange, grapefruit, etc.) — it was juicy, citrusy, fizzy, refreshing. Great for a patio brunch. There’s no reason a mimosa fan wouldn’t enjoy this.

Tiffany Blue could become a local IG sensation. The Ciroc Apple came through and gave it some tartness, almost face puckering. You can really taste the apple here. The addition of edible silver makes it sparkle like a precious piece of jewelry.

Tiffany Blue

The last cocktail, at the time this was written, hasn’t been named. It just had a nickname “Green Thumb“. It had gin, elderflower liquer, basil, cucumber. It reminded me a bit of mojito – it’s light and crisp, and herbaceous.

Then, we dove into dinner, with a couple of appies to share. Continue Reading »

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It was two years ago during our visit of Evolve Cellars, we learned from Christa-Lee that her family winery business ENCORE Vineyards had acquired the PenMar Theatre in Penticton and was converting the space into a winery. Now, we just got a sneak preview of the soon-to-open TIME Winery & Kitchen.

Time Winery & Kitchen, Penticton

At the time this was written, the winery was just one inspection away from getting the permit needed to open its door to the public. So during our visit, the staff was still putting on some finishing touches.

Time Winery & Kitchen, Penticton

Time Winery & Kitchen, Penticton

The PenMar Theatre was a four-auditorium theatre, originally built in the 50s with just one auditorium. Harry McWatters, CEO of ENCORE, has some fond memories of the theatre. He pointed to a corner of the now winery, and told us that’s where he sat on a date decades ago, as a boy, when the movie and popcorn was just 25¢.

Harry McWatters, Time Winery & Kitchen

The reconfiguration from movie theatre to winery took longer than expected.

Continue Reading »

Matcha lovers rejoice! Considered the Starbucks in Japan, Nana’s Green Tea has arrived in North America. In fact, their first ever North American location will be right here in Vancouver! On June 6, their Kerrisdale location will open its door to the public.

Established around 10 years ago in Japan, Nana’s Green Tea was brought to us by Kazuto Kutami. He was inspired by the Starbucks concept while wanting to preserve the history and tradition of Japanese tea culture. Their matcha is sourced solely from Uji, Kyoto. To-date, there are more 80 Nana’s locations around the globe.

Food

Lucky for me, I was invited to a media preview of their menu. Here are a few items we’ve tasted:

(From left) Hoji-cha Shiratama Float, Matcha Chocolate Latte, Azuki Strawberry Latte

These are only taster size. Of the three beverages, my favourite was the Hoji-cha Shiratama Float. Shiratama in this case means sticky rice, which means there are mochi (aka sticky rice) balls in them. Hoji-cha is roasted green tea, so there’s some nutty flavour in the drink, as well as in the Hoji-cha ice cream. It’s quite unique and I don’t think I’ve seen something like this in Vancouver yet.

Azuki (red bean) Strawberry Latte is on the sweeter side, but not overly sweet. There is red bean paste and small pieces of strawberry in the drink so it’s quite fun to drink. It kind of reminds me of the HK style Iced Red Bean Drink 紅豆冰.

Although tasty, relatively the Matcha Chocolate Latte wasn’t super interesting. That being said, the matcha flavour was very strong, with just a hint of sweetness from the chocolate.

Hoji-cha Shiratama Float, Matcha Chocolate Latte, Azuki Strawberry Latte

I should note that there are many other options for beverages on the menu. There are 12 matcha options, 5 for hoji-cha, 5 azuki, and 5 options for just green tea.

Fresh Tuna with Curry Tartar Sauce Donburi

The only savoury dish we tried. This donburi was very good. Tuna was flavourful; the curry tartar (think curry mayo egg salad) was fragrant with a hint of spices.

Continue Reading »

Before we did our brewery walking tour in Ballard, Bad Jimmy’s was actually the first brewery we visited during our recent trip to Seattle. It’s not quite in the cluster of breweries in Ballard but it’s close to that area.

Bad Jimmy's Brewing

The Beers

Here they have a list of Year Round beers and a list of Seasonals. It’s $9 for a flight of Year Round or Seasonals, or $10 to mix them up (stout costs extra $2), or simply $2.50 for a 5oz taster. So naturally, wanting to try more, we ordered a flight off each list. Continue Reading »

Mr. and I had a few days off in April, so we decided to head down to Seattle for a quick getaway. It’s been a couple of years now since we last headed south of the border thanks to the weak Canadian Dollar.

Instead of hanging out in the downtown area, we chose to stay in the Ballard district, which is known for its ever growing share of breweries. Where we stayed was within walking distance to a cluster of craft breweries, so we did a self-guided brewery tour.

And that means we just hit the street and started walking towards the first stop from our temporary home. When I was looking up the breweries, Lucky Envelope caught my eyes because its logo is the red envelope 利是 we hand out during Chinese New Year and to no surprise, looks like it’s Asian owned. LE it is.

Stop #1 – Lucky Envelope

Seattle Ballard Brewery Stop 1 - Lucky Envelope

Lucky Envelope Brewing

Lucky for us, it was the release day of their sours. And we are big sour fans!! There were 6 on the menu, so we opted for the lighter ones (it’s only our first stop!) plus a couple of other brews:

  • Raspberry Sour
  • Mango Sour
  • Lychee Sour
  • Blackberry Shake Sour
  • Beardless Brewer Red Ale
  • Error 404: El Dorado Haze IPA

Lucky Envelope Brewing

Mr.‘s favourite was the Lychee Sour. Continue Reading »

This year, Vancouver International Wine Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary with feature countries Spain and Portugal. Just like previous years, I drank my way through the big tasting room. But this year my focus was on the Ports.

2018 Vancouver International Wine Festival

What is Port Wine?

Port Wine (“Vinho do Porto” in Portuguese) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in Portugal. It is a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine. Although you may find fortified wines outside Portugal (e.g. Vista D’oro makes an awesome walnut port-style wine), only the product from Portugal may be labelled as Port or Porto.

Through the tasting and in talking with the wine reps, I’ve learned about the different styles of port:

Ruby Port is the most extensively produced type. It’s usually stored in stainless steel tanks to prevent oxidation and preserve its bright red colour and full-bodied fruitiness.

Tawny Ports are aged in wooden barrels, exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. They turn into a golden-brown colour and the oxidation gives the wine nutty, caramel, and/or prune, raisin notes. If there isn’t any indication of age, it’s just a generalization that the wine has spent time in wooden barrels.

Late Bottled Vintage (often referred to simply as LBV) is typically bottled between four and six years after the vintage, with similar quality like a Vintage Port. If the LBV is filtered, it’s not meant to be aged.

Vintage Port is made entirely from grapes of the same vintage year. They may be aged in barrels for 2-3 years before bottling. You can drink it right away but it’s meant to be cellared for decades as it improves with age.

Here is what I tried:

Continue Reading »

On March 21, Jugo Juice launched a revamped food menu with 4 new sandwiches and 5 new wraps.

The new sandwiches are served on heritage sourdough from local bakery Terra Breads or a brand new natural and preservative free artisan bun from Ace Bakery called schiacciata.

I was invited to a media tasting of the new items and got to try the 4 sandwiches:

Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable on schiacciata bread

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable

Philly Cheesesteak on schiacciata bread

Philly Cheesesteak

Chicken Caprese on schiacciata bread Continue Reading »

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