Outstanding in the Field

A table for 120, set at North Arm Farm in Pemberton, BC. More pictures here. Right: full moon over Okanagan vineyards, Meyer Vineyards.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Covert tomatoes in the Okanagan

OLIVER, BC---Hiding in plain sight among the tomato plants, as it were, is Mike Covert (yes, Covert is his name). We're on a plateau above the lake, a thousand miles and then some from the tomato fields of central California where Mike's dad, George, was growing tomatoes in the 1960s.

Nowadays, Covert Farms grows a laundry list of fruits and vegetables, and the porta-potty signs aren't just in French, Spanish and English, but--recognizing the newly diverse labor force in this privileged corner of Canada--in Thai and Indian as well. (A detailed history of the property is here.) Wine grapes, too, of course.

Should you find yourself in the neighborhood at the end of October, Covert even has a maze.

Cornichon visited the Okanagan last year as a guest of Tourism BC

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Interacting with BC Tourism

"Paint by Numbers" view of Vancouver

The real thing, on the Vancouver waterfront

BC Tourism, which has a $65 million budget for tourism promotion and an inviting web site, HelloBC.com, brought its road show to Seattle this week for an "interactive" afternoon with travel writers. The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Assoiciation, for example, featured chef Dana Ewart of Joy Road Catering to make strawberry-rhubarb tartelettes. (We wrote about Chef Dana last year in a post about the Okanagan wine country.) Tourism Victoria featured its most exciting new product, Victoria Gin, infused with tea from Silk Road Tea. Tourism Richmond had lots of stories about its new food blogger, Lindsay Anderson, who's going to write a post a day for a year about Richmond's vibrant restaurant scene. Tourism Vancouver asked the travel writers to help paint its photogenic harbor. Oops, sorry, harbour. See you soon in Canada!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Poutine at Wendy's!

Yes,  mes amis, la poutine she is coming to Wendy's. She is probably already at a store near you.

Here is the official word:

Canada has a national sport, a national animal and two official languages. But we do not have a national dish, until now. Wendy's is bringing a Quebec classic across our nation by adding poutine to its menu. To highlight Canadians' love affair with this favourite delicacy, it is launching an online "Poutition" to make it the national dish of Canada.
Building on its iconic fries, cut from whole potatoes, cooked skin-on, served hot and crispy with a sprinkle of sea salt, Wendy's poutine adds fresh Canadian cheese curds (a poutine must!) and is covered in the brand's rich poutine sauce. The delicious marriage of flavours melts together to create a truly Canadian favourite.
"Poutine is a dish that has symbolic importance for many Canadians," said Ron Baugh, Senior Vice President, Wendy's Restaurants of Canada. "So we're asking people to join the conversation. Poutine is perfect when you want to indulge in a hearty, truly Canadian dish."
To show just how much poutine is enjoyed across the nation, Canadians can now visit Poutition.ca or Wendy's Canada Facebook page to virtually sign the petition to make it Canada's national dish. These poutine lovers will also get a free upgrade coupon that can be redeemed at Wendy's stores nationwide with the purchase of a combo. Once 100,000 signatures are received, the "Poutition" will be submitted to Parliament for consideration just in time for Canada Day.
"Many Canadians have grown up enjoying poutine and continue to seek it out as a treat. That's why we wanted to showcase the love of poutine across all provinces in an interactive campaign," said Baugh.
The "Poutition" launched online on April 23rd and runs till July 1st. In addition to the Facebook page and YouTube video, national radio and TV spots will begin airing on April 30th in most Canadian markets. Revamped in-store graphics and merchandise promoting the new dish will also accompany the media launch. Poutine devotees can buy the branded merchandise on CafePress.ca. Items include buttons, bumper stickers, mugs, yard signs and t-shirts.
The mouth-watering new poutine is available now at Wendy's locations across Canada for $3.99 and is also available for $2.20 as a side upgrade in a combo. Wendy's continues to sell its classic fries, chili and oven-baked potatoes as other side options, and is also pleased to offer its new chili cheese fries.
 If you want to see more pictures, go here. There's also an online petition (for Canadians only) here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Restaurant Month

Hey, tis Restautant Month in Vancouver!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Vancouver BC

Monday, August 22, 2011

Top Table's Expanding Waistline

The folks at Vancouver's acclaimed Top Table group (Blue Water Cafe, CinCin and West in town, Araxi in Whistler), have added a chocolate shop and patiserrie called Thierry on Alberni between Burrard and Thurlow.

Thierry Busset at work
Equal parts shop, café and atelier, it’s a collaboration between Top Table's founder, Jack Evrensel, and Thierry Busset, described as "one of the best pastry chefs in the world" by a former colleague, Gordon Ramsay.

A native of the Auvergne region in southern France, Busset studied pastry making at some of the finest pâtisseries and restaurants in Europe: Bernard Sicard and Joseph Pilati in France; and two restaurants rated three stars by Michelin in the UK: Albert Roux's Le Gavroche and Marco Pierre White's restaurant at The Hyde Park Hotel.

Opening early for morning cappuccinos and croissants, Thierry's new cafe is light and airy, with curved walls of palmwood tambour and Thonet bentwood chairs that evoke classic Parisian cafés.

Soups, sandwiches and light meals will be served in the afternoon and evening. 

Says Busset: "We wanted something absolutely unique: the free flowing shop and café, an atelier where you can watch us work, and intensity and excitement in everything we make."

Thierry, 1059 Alberni Street, Vancouver, BC (604) 608-6870

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dinner on God's Mountain

Carafes of pinot noir from Blue Mountain Winery
 It's called God's Mountain Estate, at the top of an unmarked driveway off Skaha Lake, a 14-room private hotel with a spectacular sunset view. Twice a week during the summer season, they have dinners here, prepared (because there's no kitchen) by an outfit called Joy Road Catering. The creative energy of "Joy Road" emanates from Dana Ewart, a cheerful, 34-year-old woman with an intuitive sense of taste and texture, and a caterer's ability to roll with the punches.

Shaved fennel salad with goat cheese

Clouds and showers? Set up on the covered veranda. A couple of last-minute guests? Bring up another table from the basement. No bouquet of flowers? Peonies in a jam jar. The result, as you can see, is a convivial table for 36 diners, convened on this summer evening to showcase the wines of Blue Mountain Winery.

With the winery's owners, Ian and Jane Mavety looking on and beaming proudly, the Brut Rose was poured with appetizers of mussels and pissaldiere. With the sauvignon blanc, a salad of shaved fennel and goat cheese. (This sounds like the biggest cliché in the business, but it was one of the tastiest salads I've had lately.) With the chardonnay, seared scallops. The sun came out (as it has off and on all day) and there was some talk of moving back down to the edge of the bluff overlooking the lake, but the consensus of the guests was to stay put, on the terrace, with the music of clinking glasses and lively conversations between diners who were strangers half an hour earlier.

But Dana decided it would be much nicer under the trees overlooking the lake, with fairy lights hanging from the branches as the last rays of the sun lit up the sky. "Bring your forks, napkins and your wine glasses, " Dana instructed firmly, and everyone meandered down the steps while her staff (a permanent group of ten, each one as goodnatured as the next) swiftly move chairs, tables and place settings.

Out came the platters of roast pork and carafes of Blue Mountain pinot noir, roast pork, and as the sky turned dark, pastries filled with lemon-flavored marscapone andsour cherries (picked that afternoon from trees along the drive).

Some of the diners were fortunate: they were hotel guests and wouldn't have to leave until morning, if ever.

God's Mountain Estate, 4898 Lakeside, Penticton, BC, 250-490-4800. Rooms $150 to $320 per night.

Vineyard dnners on Thursdays are $95, Al fresco dinners on Sundays are $110 (Canadian, plus tax). Reservations required.

Blue Mountain Winery, 2385 Allendale Rd., Okanagan Falls, BC 250-497-8244

Roll Out the Barrels

OLIVER, BC--You could take a shortcut through one of the many cherry orchards to get here, to Okanagan Barrel Works,  the only cooperage in the Okanagan Valley, but the paved road takes only a minute longer. Cal Craik runs the shop with a crew of four. Two of them are French, working their way through a complex work-study system called Les Compagnons du Devoir. They train bakers and stone masons, pastry chefs and barrel-makers, among their many trades and crafts. Eric Fourthon found his way here three years ago, and his replacement has already arrived. Together, the crew turns out something like a thousand barrels a year, some traditional (225-liter) Bordeaux-style, some larger vats.

Were this France, the parking lot would be filled with oak staves, neatly latticed to allow several seasons of air-drying before they are assembled. But Craik says it's easier (and no more expensive) to purchase staves, whether from France or from the American midwest, that have already been hewn (or cambered, or "joined," as they say) so that they are the right length and have the proper angle of bevelling to fit together properly. The key, says Craik, is in the toasting, which chars the wood and determines how the oak flavors will influence the wine. An American oak barrel sells for $425 (Canadian), but a French barrel (whose wood has a different cell structure) goes for $950. Is the difference worth it? That's up to the customer.

Like all the folks in the wine industry here, Okanagan Barrel Works has an office dog. This one's a frisky Weimaraner named Monsieur. Seems appropriate for Bastille Day, non?