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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:

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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 (more…)

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Earlier this month, as media, I was invited to attend the 3rd annual Science of Cocktails event at the Science World. It was the perfect venue as the Science World was transformed into a giant lab where drinks were changing from blue to pink, bananas being sous vide in honey, popcorn was frozen with liquid nitrogen, a “toothpaste” palate cleanser, smoking herbs, vaporized gin & tonic, fermentation, a sniffing station, foodies pulling themselves up a lift… the list goes on!

Science of Cocktails 2018

Science of Cocktails 2018Science of Cocktails 2018

Science of Cocktails 2018

Science of Cocktails 2018Science of Cocktails 2018

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Does the snowy weather just make you want to cuddle up and sit around the fireplace all day? Us Chinese have another way to fight the cold weather — hotpot.

While we usually have hotpot at home, we do go out for it sometimes. There are many hotpot places in Vancouver, with a mix of all-you-can-eat and a la carte options. Recently, I was invited to check out one of the a la carte hotpot places called Liuyishou Hotpot. It’s a worldwide chain, with a few locations in the Lower Mainland in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby.

At the Burnaby location, one thing that caught my eyes right away was the Sauce Bar. It’s probably the largest in BC, if not Canada. You can choose from minced garlic, cilantro and sesame oil, to mushroom paste, spiced vinegar and preserved bean curd. They have even posted some suggested “recipes” of sauces to pair with different soup bases they offer.

Sauce Bar

Sauce recipes

Making sauces

Of course, the more important part is the menu items. Do they offer a lot of options? Are the ingredients fresh? Any interesting items worthy of note? Let’s break it down.

First of all, the soup base. We had half and half Original Chongqing Spicy Soup and Special Pork Rib Soup. The spicy soup base was molded solid into a cattle shape, and it was melted down in front of our own eyes as the server poured hot broth into the pot. I was told that there’s no extra charge for the cattle shaped soup base, but there’s limited quantity everyday so it’s first come, first served.

Pouring broth to melt the cattle shaped soup base

At medium spicy level, I was still worried that the Original Chongqing Spicy Soup would be too spicy. (more…)

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The official Dine Out Vancouver may have ended on Sunday, but some restaurants have decided to offer the Dine Out menus just for a few more days.

Dine Out at Smoke and Bones

Dine Out at Smoke and Bones

Here are their respective extended end date and menu. The list is much shorter than previous years. I will keep updating the list if I hear more.

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Are you looking for gift ideas for your dearest? Or dining options on this special day? Here are some ideas:

Dining

  • Atlas Steak + Fish – $75 or $95 per person for a 4-course dinner
  • Au Comptoir – $80 per person for a 4-course dinner
  • Bacchus Restaurant – $130 per person for a 5-course dinner
  • Boathouse Restaurant – $49 or $59 per person for a 3-course dinner
  • Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar – $110 per person a 5-course dinner
  • Cardero’sA la carte menu
  • Chop Restaurant – $49 per person for a 3-course dinner, Feb 9-14
  • CIBO Trattoria – $68 per person for a 4-course dinner, including Albacore Tuna or Smoked & Slow-Roasted Pork Belly, Heart-Shaped Ravioli for Two, Butter-Poached Black Cod, Pan-Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Tiramisu and Blackberry White Chocolate Semifreddo
  • Federico’s – $100 per person for a 4-course dinner, with live music and dancing

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Chinese New Year is Feb. 16, 2018 and it’s the Year of the Dog. Need ideas to celebrate CNY this year? Here is a roundup for you:

TWG Tea:

During the month of February, you can order the Lunar New Year Tea Set at TWG Tea, which includes savoury canapés and tea infused desserts. They have also launched the Breakfast Bulldog Tea for the occasion.

Red Racer Lucky Dog:

Central City Brewers + Distillers has launched the Red Racer Lucky Dog Kumquat Wheat Ale, a Chinese New Year collaboration with Taiwan’s Redpoint Brewing Co. It’s a seasonal wheat ale brewed with fresh kumquats, a sweet and fragrant citrus fruit traditionally eaten during the lunar new year celebrations.

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