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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 Continue Reading »

Have you been to the Settlement Building in Railtown? Did you know you could find wine, beer AND food in that one place?

The Settlement Building is home to the Vancouver Urban Winery, Postmark Brewing, and Belgard Kitchen. The Vancouver Urban Winery (VUW) produces wines from 100% BC grapes. For example, the VUW 2014 Merlot was made with 100% Merlot grapes from Osoyoos and Naramata. You would taste dark cherry fruit and sweet spice. Not only do they source grapes from a number of Okanagan vineyards and produce their own labels, but they also collaborate with other wineries such as Road 13, Seredipity, and Backyard Vineyard.

Vancouver Urban Winery Merlot 2014

Vancouver Urban Winery Merlot 2014

Postmark Brewing mixes west coast lifestyle with the love for one (or two) great pint. Postmark Brewing was also the winner of the SMaSH Brewers Challenge at the 2017 BC Beer Awards event. Postmark makes some interesting beers; recently they just launched the Ginger Wit – it’s a Winter Ale balancing North West hops with the warmth of dark, rich malts. It’s hazy yellow, with a subtle ginger note.

Postmark Ginger Wit

Postmark Ginger Wit

Giveaway

Now is your chance to try some wine & beer from Vancouver Urban Winery and Postmark Brewing. Continue Reading »

It’s Chinese New Year (CNY) a couple of weeks ago, and us Chinese know how to celebrate — eat, feast, and repeat. Of course, there are many regional Chinese New Year traditions throughout China, and being from HK, the HK tradition is what I’m most familiar with. On New Year’s Eve I was invited to a feast with food expert Lee Man, and it just heightened my appreciation for my culture.

Calling it a feast, obviously it was a multi-course dinner with an abundance of food. We are all about good meanings 意頭 when it comes to choosing the dishes or even naming them for CNY. On Instagram I showed a glimpse of what that means with the CNY dinner made by Mama Lam this year. It’s being realized here once again at Golden Paramount in Richmond.

Food

“Togetherness” is one of the main reasons for CNY celebrations so families often take the opportunity to gather together and dine out during CNY. For that, the restaurant was hustling and bustling and it’s just full of energy! It was a late dinner for us (7:45pm start) and the room was still full and more were being seated as our dinner progressed. And here’s our menu, some background about them, and what they symbolize:
Pan Fried Oysters – Oysters are a homonym for “good”, indicating good luck for the upcoming year. Traditionally we eat dried oysters because it means “good business” 好市 but it does have a more distinctive fishy taste to it and not everyone likes it. This was a Chinese Restaurant Award winner.

Pan Fried Oysters
Pepah Tofu – Fried food is usually in a golden colour so it symbolizes gold and fortune. The tofu here is shaped into a Chinese lute, Pipa. Fun fact: I learned to play the Pipa when I was in middle school in HK. Not easy to master but it was fun to play. This was later extended to my involvement with the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble.

Pepah Tofu
Crab Meat and Fish Maw Soup – At a CNY feast you would want to serve some luxurious items.

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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. Continue Reading »

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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