by Paige Donner This Valentine’s Day why not indulge in a bit of self-love? Yes, I mean CHOCOLATE! The good thing about eating chocolate is that it’s actually included in the grouping of Nature’s Super Foods. Gotta love nature! If … Continue reading
by Paige Donner What better time than summer to 1. Eat Healthier 2. Spend less time in the kitchen 3. Transform your body to Fantastically Fabulous With these three goals in mind, is it any wonder then that Fast Food … Continue reading
Explore more than 150 wines from 40 Paso Robles wineries. Paso Robles is California’s third largest and fastest growing wine region, so come taste a new vintage from your favorite winery or discover new ones! Wineries from Paso Robles will … Continue reading
Be sure to pick up February’s issue of La Revue du Vin de France… British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario wines and wineries are featured in a multiple-page spread. For the Okanagan some beautiful highlights of Osoyoos Larose and also Quail’s … Continue reading
Locally-sourced ingredients and wine pairings from Mission Hill’s portfolio. Highlights include:
- Vine Smoked Arctic Char with berry gel;
- Ocean Wise Shrimp and Sweet Corn Panna Cotta;
- Naramata White Peach Gazpacho;
- Deep Fried Hen’s Egg with chickpea panisse and buttered green peas;
- “AAA” Beef Strip Loin with crispy polenta and truffled cauliflower;
- Glazed French Lemon Curd ‘Bar’ with basil marshmallow and pine nut crunch. Continue reading
Excerpted from From Le Figaro (English)
Monsanto must pay for French farmer’s pesticide injuries
A French tribunal found Monsanto, the leading producer of agro chemicals, responsible for serious neurological effects suffered by a French farmer after his exposure to poisonous pesticides. Monsanto must pay for all damages suffered by the farmer.
This win may set a precedent for other cases. The MSA (mutuelle sociale agricole), the French mutual insurance system for agricultural workers, reported that they receive about 200 files a year from agriculturalists who confirm being poisoned by pesticides.
West Kelowna, British Columbia (April 13, 2011) – Mission Hill Family Estate Proprietor Anthony von Mandl announces a collaboration with renowned French artist Nathalie Decoster.
Over Fifty Decoster installations will be featured on award-winning Okanagan winery grounds
Von Mandl first encountered these magnificent works of art more than eight years ago when he visited an exhibition at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte winery in Bordeaux’s Graves appellation. Since that time, he has held a strong belief that an exhibition at Mission Hill would be a memorable event for winery guests, the Okanagan Valley and the Canadian arts community.
“What immediately struck me about Mrs. Decoster’s art were the curved hoops that cradle her human forms to create a strong visual connection between the art and the outside world,” says von Mandl. “These curved hoops are akin to the metal hoops that hold together the precious barrels that age our wines and are essential to crafting exceptional wines.”
Over the years, von Mandl and Decoster have been in regular contact planning the timing of her Canadian debut and the winery’s first exhibition of this magnitude. This year, Over 50 sculptures installed throughout the winery grounds will be enjoyed by guests who stroll the property, visit the wine cellars and taste the various vintages. The Decoster Sculpture Exhibition will be open to the public at no additional charge. The permanent installation of one significant sculpture ensures a lasting legacy for all who visit the winery.
“We hope Mrs. Decoster’s work resonates with visitors as she plays with the notion of sharing dreams to build connections between people,” says von Mandl. “We believe this same connection speaks to what we are trying to accomplish as winemakers. The parallels are undeniable and we invite art lovers, or the merely curious, to visit Mission Hill to discover the magnificent work of sculptress Nathalie Decoster.”
Von Mandl’s passion for the arts traces back to his European roots and earliest, fondest memories of his parents who fostered in him a love of arts, music, cuisine and learning. Mission Hill is a family-owned winery with a dedicated staff who shares its founder’s passion for wine, food and the arts. Their dedication to wine excellence is coupled with a long-term commitment to support the visual and performing arts, essential components of the Mission Hill guest experience.
About Nathalie Decoster
Decoster lives and works in her converted factory studio in Paris. Her early work with decorative art studios led her to perfect her sculpting technique with an old-school master and the development of personal creations with new skills and materials. The essential mediums of her work include steel, bronze, aluminum, stainless steel and concrete. She employs vocabulary recognizably her own. An “art brut” figure is her messenger represented in minimalist geometric structures which convey philosophical messages about the human condition. With a dash of humour, she makes us conscious of the absurdities in our modern human lives. Helping us identify with these themes presents a password to serenity. Visit nathaliedecoster.com for more information.
About Mission Hill Family Estate
Mission Hill Family Estate is world renowned for its award-winning wines, stunning setting, architecture, and Cuisine du Terroir-influenced Terrace Restaurant. The winery’s vineyards are located in five distinct growing regions of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Reflective of the origin and unique character of the Valley and meticulous ‘Vine to Bottle’ program, Oculus, its signature Bordeaux-inspired wine, represents the pinnacle in premium winemaking. Proprietor Anthony von Mandl and winemaker John Simes produce elegant internationally acclaimed wines with New World flavours and Old World refinement from this incomparable wine valley. Visit missionhillwinery.com for more information and follow Mission Hill Family Estate on Twitter @missionhillwine.
Also…some Tips for A Healthy Holiday Kitchen:
Everywhere where Thanksgiving is celebrated, we have a favorite recipe that each of us takes out, dusts off, – often from our Grandmother’s recipe book – and cooks up each year to share with our friends and loved ones.
And while Thanksgiving has become a Food Fest for most of us, it is firstly a celebration of gratitude. With gratitude as the cornerstone ingredient for manifesting abundance, this is, then, a powerful recipe: Thankfulness + Good Food = Abundance.
Thanksgiving is also a time of sharing. Back on Plymouth Rock, it is significant to remember that the Mayflower Pilgrims would not have survived that first winter had it not been for the Native Americans sharing their knowledge and abundance of the land and native foods such as corn and beer. (Yes, beer!)
So, yes, Thanksgiving is a time for families and food. It is also a time of sharing and gratitude. So…what was your grandmother’s favorite recipe? Mine was whipped yams baked with mini marshmallows. I think I’ll start practice cooking it now again in preparation for the big day…!
Help for the Holidays
If your family is one of the many struggling this holiday season I would urge you to research the non-profits in your area that can help meet your needs. I have listed just a few of the many valuable organizations serving the residents of the 23rd Senate District.
- FOOD Share, Ventura County
- Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles
- Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Los Angeles County
- Manna Conejo Valley Food Bank, Ventura and Los Angeles County
- Valley Food Bank, San Fernando Valley
21st Annual Malibu Pie Festival
Kara Seward with her pie entry for Malibu Pie Festival, October.
The Malibu United Methodist Church hosted their 21st Annual Malibu Pie Festival last month. The proceeds from pie sales and silent auction items went to support the church’s youth and family programs and service projects. I am proud to announce that my staffer for the Malibu area, Kara Seward, entered her family’s blueberry pie recipe and won third place in the Fruit Pie category. Congratulations to all the entries!
By Paige Donner
Corsica, off the French south coast, produces delicious dry white and subtle rosé wines that are best drunk chilled, young and fresh as an aperitif or to accompany light meals of seafood, salads, tapas.
Wine of Corsica is the common appellation to all the wines of Corsica, with the following AOC classifications related to either the soils or the villages in which the vineyards are grown: Ajaccio, Calvi, Coteaux du Cap Corse et Muscat du Cap Corse, Figari Patrimonio, Porto-Vecchio, Sartène.
While Corsica is definitely “south of France,” it does not fall under the newly minted branding of “Sud de France,” a term that is being used by the region of Languedoc-Roussillon as they voyage forth once again onto the world export stage with their wines and other agricultural products.
Corsican wines are one of those “well-kept secrets.” The island, which the French call “L’île de Beauté,” produces some great wines but they aren’t exported much overseas…yet. Set in the Mediterranean Sea, many of the island’s wines originate from Italy. The sun’s reflection on both white rocks and the Mediterranean brings even more energy to the vine which, combined with low yields, will eventually produce a very concentrated grape.
- Cap Corse Wine This white wine is pretty rare and much appreciated by winelovers. Many agree that it is the best white wine in Corsica.
- Sartene Wine This is an excellent wine, and the red San Michele is definitely a must-taste. These are fruity and warm Corsican wines.
- Patrimonio This wine is as famous as the classic Corsican appellation and its quality is constantly growing. Corsican reds and whites are increasingly famous even out of the island. Patrimonio rosé wines are also fine wines. Patrimonio wines have a pretty strong character that originate from the soil, which is composed mostly of clay and limestone. This Corsican wine is full-bodied but still light and fruity.
- Ajaccio The Ajaccio French wine boasts the distinction of being the most elevated wine region in France. Most of its vineyards are located 500 m and above. This Corsica wine benefits from the warm weather, and the sea air provides it with a very particular flavor too. This French wine fully benefits from the Corsican environment thus it is light coloured, fruity and has a pronounced pepper flavor in the mouth. The Ajaccio soil is mostly granite.
They also have excellent beaches in Corsica!
May long weekend was one of those where the sun cooperated with the clouds and both were in harmonic concert with the calendar. Which is to say, May long weekend was spectacular for wine tasting afternoons.
The Naramata Bench always invites,…perhaps it’s the lake views, the easy meandering route – in via one road, out via the same road – or, just maybe, it’s the wines themselves that consistently beckon.
A quick easy snack of Eggers at The Bench specialty market and cafe’ as I started my journey provided fortification for the enjoyably foreseen alcohol consumption. Most days I spit, today I had decided to swirl. There’s something grand about being on vacation in wine territory and not the designated driver…
The few outdoor tables at The Bench Market hosted clusters of Gelato lickers and some chowing down on their more substantial wraps and sandwiches. The little specialty cafe’ that sits at the doorway to the Naramata Bench is such a fun place to poke around. I love looking through their tray of Naramata Handmade Seeds and imagine what it would be like to plant some Cape Gooseberry, perhaps some Togo Trefle, or even some Gigantesque or Ste. Lucie. All the seeds are “open-pollinated, grown in Naramata by natural chemical-free methods.” At $3.00 per packet, they make great gifts and garden projects. You can also find Okanagan Harvest Cake here. It comes vacuum-packed so you can take this deliciousness home for savoring later if you wish (and if willpower permits).
The Naramata Bench can be as much a treasure treat hunt as it is a wine tasting trail. With this thought, the first stop was in at Poplar Grove where they make, and sell, cheese and wine. The ever popular Poplar Grove boasted a packed tasting counter. The clamor for cheese could be heard even above the soft patter of the wine sippers. Fairly early in the day still, there were only three rounds of their Naramata Bench Blue cheese left. Fortune smiled on me that day as I was handed one of the precious rounds. Seems their 20% off sale on the cheese had precipitated a cheese run throughout the day.
But, first things first, so I made my way through their tasting flight. Outstanding is their Cabernet Franc ’06. They hold their wines longer than anyone in the valley and this Cab Franc lives up to its, “Black Forest Cake In A Bottle,” reputation. Ripe, red fruits, silky cocoa. Their Ogopogo label also caught my eye from a design perspective but once you taste their ’06 Cab Franc it’s kind of hard (sorry!) to remember what came before that. As I worked through my purchases, I was delighted to see that the cheese came out to only $6. That was the deal of the day.
Back out on the main road I saw that the Marichel Vineyards’ sign was proclaiming they were open. I had been wanting to stop in for some time, even just to take in the iconic Okanagan Lake views from their patio. Funny, but the definitive pictures you mostly see of the Okanagan are actually of Vaseux Lake and not the Okanagan.
Twice in the course of an afternoon, fortune blessed me as the sun was high overhead and the views from Marichel Vineyards patio were, well, iconic Lake Okanagan. Marichel’s exquisitely trimmed vineyards that sit on the “Bench,” or bluff right there delight tribes of quail. It would be easy enough to spend a whole afternoon just watching the quail and their little quail babies weave through the manicured vines and talk to Richard and Elizabeth Roskell, Marichel Vineyard owners and winemakers.
Marichel’s ’07 Syrah is melt in your mouth good. If Syrah could be a dark chocolate in a bottle, this is it.
Marichel’s tasting room is like one you’d find in Argentina. The comfortably-sized room opening up onto the outdoor veranda is furnished with a tasting table, a big wooden picnic table with benches that invites you to have a seat, take a moment, and enjoy the experience of tasting wine. The Roskells were the first on the bench to plant Viognier, so their vines now are 11 years old – and beautiful!
Their property features a gulch on it which serves to divide the acreage into “eight little different vineyard blocks, with different soils even,” explains Elizabeth. She remembers all too well when she and her husband Richard were out auguring the soil with a pickaxe to get the young vines in. She laughs and says that, yes, they are always open, it’s just that often they are in the vineyard working. But they enjoy very much meeting and hosting people for tastings; It’s just best to call ahead if you want to be sure to be greeted at the gate.
Their Syrah is well worth making the appointment for. Richard has planted six different Syrah blocks, and they expect each to be signature different. As you gaze out their veranda onto the golden afternoon sun-drenched lake you see a lone pine tree on the bluff, that is where they’ve planted their Sunset Block of Syrah.
On the afternoon I stopped in Elizabeth was pouring Marichel Syrah ’07. As she poured the dark berry hued wine into the full, stemless tasting glass I could already see that I was in for a treat. I cupped the glass in the warmth of my hand and swirled the ripe juice to aid its flavor release. I could almost feel it melting in the glass. Elizabeth was telling me how one of her pastimes is baking and that she makes a dark chocolate cake where she soaks the cherries in this Syrah before cooking them in the cake.
Time to taste: Marichel’s ’07 Syrah is melt in your mouth good. If Syrah could be a dark chocolate in a bottle, this is it. Its nose, ever so slightly brisk, belies the full-bodied maturity of the vintage, hints of leather, a whiff of Autumn leaves. The mouth is full, velvety, smooth, round, well-balanced, specialized, with red fruits and a Godiva dark chocolate finish.
A few moments at Marichal Vineyards and you’ve carved into memory indelible images of Naramata taste, sight and sunshine.
It’s said that laughter is the best therapy, so a must-stop was Laughingstock Vineyards. A table with crazy fun hats was on display to greet tasters. But really crazy hats, and big mirrors, to try them on and see which ones fit. Hats came in varietals like a WWII fighter pilot with goggles, Jimmi Hendrix afro wig, pointed Merlin’s hat, Argentine Bolero, a witch’s black hat, a chicken-o-your-head hat…and more.
“It’s to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously,” stated the lady pouring Laughing Stock’s tasting flight, explaining that it’s only for special occasions that they put out the hats.
Not to miss in their flight is their Portfolio ’07 which is a blend of 56% Merlot 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot. Vines magazine calls it one of Canada’s “icon wines.”
Out in mid-June is their Pinot Noir ’09. Looking forward to trying it as they did not release a Pinot Noir for ’08. Also worth noting is their Syrah, with a Viognier blend, will be out soon. Now that sounds interesting…
Lunch on the patio at Hillside Estate Winery is a Bench landmark. Their new chef began back in April and even simple dishes of steamed mussels in a red sauce with some dipping bread can showcase why it’s so great to be alive.
Hillside Estate Winery is one of the only wineries in the Valley to do a Muscat. They are also the only winery in all of Canada to do a Muscat Ottonel. The original owner of Hillside Estate Winery brought her 6 vines of Ottonel over in her backpack from Czechoslovakia. “She probably would have gotten into trouble, had she been caught. But she wasn’t, so now we have this beautiful Muscat and thousands of Ottonel vines,” explained the tasting room pourer.
Kathy Malone is their winemaker and I wouldn’t leave Hillside without trying their, Muscat Ottonel ’09, ’07 Reserve Merlot and also their ’09 Gewurztraminer. The tasting room at Hillside Estate is always going to be full on weekends, so just hang in and press on ’til it’s your turn at the tasting bar. Then dig in and enjoy.
A day of laughter and wine wouldn’t be complete without a sojourn at Therapy Vineyards and Guesthouse. Therapy Vineyards’ winemaker, Steve Latchford, makes a Malbec that’s been getting people talking. He uses grapes grown down in Oliver. On the Naramata Bench, they have 7 acres under cultivation, though the property is so impressive, down there at the end of the Bench, that it’s easy to think they have vast more under cultivation. Their Malbec is the first wine in Canada to feature a hockey player on the label. Go figure!
People flock in for the Freudian Sip; Aged eight months in French Oak gives this Chardonnay a strong spine. Their “Pink Freud,” rose’ is also a crowd pleaser. Therapy Vineyards is one of the few wineries on the Bench that has a Guesthouse. It’s a tough choice between there and the Naramata Heritage Inn And Spa. On a sunny summer weekend, it’ll probably just come down to whoever has the first, or last remaining, opening.
By Paige Donner
Culinary Tourism makes perfect sense…at least to us! When you travel for pleasure, at least half your time and itinerary are taken up with decisions like where to eat and what to eat? When you plan a trip around destinations known for their exquisite culinary offerings and wine pairings, you’ve already done most of the hard work before you’ve ever left home. Then all there is to do once you arrive is…Relax and Enjoy!
Spring and Summer mean Blooming Gardens in Victoria and all over Vancouver Island…
The Comox Valley – also on Vancouver Island – is a Must See, Must Do, Must Eat and Drink and Be Merry kind of destination…
by Paige Donner
Aboriginal Feast and Wine Pairings. Doesn’t just the sound of that say it all? The evening of fine dining and entertainment is the brainchild of a partnership between Theresa Contois and chef Ben Genaille, owners of Kanata Cuisine.
Kanata Cuisine was formed in the last six months when Theresa was noted for her exquisite “front of house” hospitality skills while putting the finishing touches on her training at Vancouver Community College’s Aboriginal Culinary program. Chef Ben Genaille, an expert in Aboriginal Cuisine, and Theresa got to talking and Kanata Cuisine is the result of their pairing strength with strength.
Much like the pairing of Nk’Mip’s outstanding wines with Kanata Cuisine’s tasting menu. If you are one of the lucky ones to opt in for this culinary adventure, your tastebuds and senses await delight.
Nk’Mip Cellars winemaker, Randy Picton, has chosen versatile pairings for the cuisine, including selections from their critically acclaimed Qwam Qwmt, known in the vernacular as their Q2 selections.
“Qwam Qwmt means the best of our Reserve Tier wines. QQ Chardonnay, for example, is one of our upper tier wines. It starts with the grapes in the vineyard,” says Randy. “I know going into it that this crop of grapes will be giving us our Reserve Tier wines. These wines we put into French oak,” he explains, noting their toasty vanilla and butterscotch essences.
Picton was the pioneer in the Okanagan who began the method of picking the grapes at different times in the harvesting season. “Even three weeks later, so there’s an evenness in the wine/grapes,” he explains. He began at Nk’Mip Cellars, the celebrated first winery in North America to be aboriginal owned, in 2002.
Nk’Mip is known for their Pinots and Chardonnays. Picton is the first to admit that pinot, at least in the Okanagan, can be a “fussy” grape to grow well. Their $20 bottles of Merlot are very popular choices however the winery is shifting their portfolio focus to upper tier wines. They are capped at about 18,000 cases per year production so they are looking to focus on, for example, a Q2 Riesling and a higher end Meritage that will retail for approximately $50-$60 a bottle.
The menu for the Kanata Cuisine Aboriginal Feast includes:
*”hot rock” poached spot prawn, cattail heart cream with wild onion oil.
*fire roasted corn soup, oolighan oil [used as a dipping oil with bannuck, aboriginal bread]
*salmon duo candied & sausages nass river/ seaweed bannock crackers
*crisp duck glazed halibut, mushroom hazelnut ragout, potato, chives
*Rhubarb ice [delightful in both taste and texture]
*braised bison short ribs, watercress, parsnip mash
*cranberry bannock bread pudding “Indian ice cream” with maple sap ice wine reduction
Fresh, Local Cuisine And Regional Wines
Locavore Movie Trailer
Just a generation ago, people worldwide traveled less than 10 miles for the food they ate. Now, the average conventionally grown fruit and vegetable has traveled 1500 miles before it rests on your plate.
Many of us have realized that we’re not just sacrificing taste, but our health and well-being as well. Why sacrifice nutrition and deliciousness of the food we eat when the solution is as simple as sunshine – Eat Local!
The Locavore Movement, or Eat Local, is not anything new. It’s just back in fashion. And thank goodness, because it’s what makes good sense… and it’s in very good taste!
A few months ago, Locavore The Movie was released. You can watch a bit of it HERE.
Youth are part of a sprouting segment of the population, including twenty-somethings and upward, who are embracing the Eat Local habit. A recent Washington Post article said,…
They’re part of a growing pool of young, educated, politically motivated workers drawn to farming. Books such as bestseller “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” in which Michael Pollan championed the local food movement, are sparking interest in sustainable agriculture, or small-scale farms that embrace humane and eco-friendly practices. Such operations are getting a boost from Community Supported Agriculture, a system that lets customers pay in advance for a weekly share of a nearby farm’s crop; the number of members participating in CSAs grew 50 percent between 2007 and 2009.
The Organic Consumer’s Association says it’s a matter of social justice, as well as peace, health and democracy. READ MORE HERE.
The best organic food is what’s grown closest to you. Many farms offer subscriptions for weekly baskets of produce. Check with your local farmers to see if they have this CSA service and then sign up! Take a look at this map here at Local Harvest to see where there’s a community farm near you.
At its roots sustainable farming benefits the local community and local economy. It also supports the environment by enriching the soil, protecting air and water quality, and minimizing energy consumption.
According to Sustainable Tables,…
Small, local farms are run by farmers who live on their land and work hard to preserve it. They protect open spaces by keeping land in agricultural use and preserve natural habitats by maintaining forest and wetlands. By being good stewards of the land, seeking out local markets, minimizing packaging, and harvesting food only when it is ready to consume, farmers can significantly reduce their environmental impact. In fact, studies show that sustainable agricultural practices can actually increase food production by up to 79%.
These are all very good reasons to make friends with your local farmers and forage for local food finds!