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Wine Review: Tantalus 2010 Old Vines Riesling

Lime, honey, and flint on the nose gives way to a wine that explodes on the tongue with mouth-puckering acidity and just enough residual sugar to make the whole package delicious. This is incredible wine and is made to last a long long time. Ate with grilled seafood and vegetables. As good as it gets in the Central Okanagan. Did I mention I love this wine?

Wine Review: Tantalus 2010 Old Vines Riesling

Lime, honey, and flint on the nose gives way to a wine that explodes on the tongue with mouth-puckering acidity and just enough residual sugar to make the whole package delicious. This is incredible wine and is made to last a long long time. Ate with grilled seafood and vegetables. As good as it gets in the Central Okanagan. Did I mention I love this wine?

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Dinner time: homemade veggie burgers
On the suggestion of my girlfriend, I adapted this meatball recipe to make vegetarian burgers. I omitted the sweet-and-sour sauce, obviously, and added about a cup of chopped mushrooms. I use low-fat cheese (i know, i know…) only because, even then, they really are quite rich and heavy. Instead of baking them in sauce I baked them on a greased cookie sheet at 400F for about 10 minutes a side, then saved them for grilling later, at which point you really just have to heat them up. They are, in my humble opinion, the best veggie burgers I have ever had. Try replacing some of the breadcrumbs with panko, or trying different kinds of nuts— this one’s pretty easy to play with, but the result is a flavourful, meaty patty that stays together and grills amazingly.

Dinner time: homemade veggie burgers

On the suggestion of my girlfriend, I adapted this meatball recipe to make vegetarian burgers. I omitted the sweet-and-sour sauce, obviously, and added about a cup of chopped mushrooms. I use low-fat cheese (i know, i know…) only because, even then, they really are quite rich and heavy. Instead of baking them in sauce I baked them on a greased cookie sheet at 400F for about 10 minutes a side, then saved them for grilling later, at which point you really just have to heat them up. They are, in my humble opinion, the best veggie burgers I have ever had. Try replacing some of the breadcrumbs with panko, or trying different kinds of nuts— this one’s pretty easy to play with, but the result is a flavourful, meaty patty that stays together and grills amazingly.

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Out and about: farm fresh eggs.

A lot of people are skeptical about buying “organic” or “local”; while it’s true that some won’t notice the difference (myself often included!), eggs are one item I’ve always gone out of my way to buy fresh. 

I bought some eggs last weekend from Orchard Hill Farm (and RV park!) at the Kelowna Farmers’ Market. They had been collected that morning. The yolks are a brilliant yellow, with tons of egg-y flavour.

The eggs are real. Many are not smooth— small bumps and irregularities dot them. They are all different colours, and they vary in size, but they are beautiful.

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Dinner time: we got a barbecue!!!

I had almost forgotten the joy of grilling. Heck, I’ve actually never known what it is to own my own barbecue. Well last weekend we changed that and, in anticipation of what I’m told is a beautiful summer here in the Okanagan, we bought a charcoal grill.

After some initial difficulty lighting the coals (since rectified with the purchase of a chimney starter), the gorgeous smell of smouldering charcoal wafted from our balcony and into the apartment.

I’m still learning the ropes of charcoal grilling, so we started simple: a few grilled veggies and cedar-planked salmon. It helps to salt the zucchini before cooking to remove moisture, but aside from that, the only extra ingredient on the vegetables was a little olive oil: a little bit of charring and smoking does the rest! On top of the salmon I rubbed a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper, maple syrup, lemon juice, and chopped pecans, and stuck some lemon slices underneath.

Accompanied by a pinot noir from one of my favourite ontario wineries and some couscous, it was a delectable hello to spring weather and a hearty welcome to our new charcoal-fuelled friend.

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Out and about: Urban farming

Last weekend, I took advantage of some gorgeous weather here in Kelowna to do some planting in my community garden plot, which I had mapped out for square-foot gardening. My lovely girlfriend (who gets photo credits) and I divided the 4x4 plot into 16 one-foot squares, poked some holes, and sowed some seeds!

I planted beets, carrots, lettuce, and cilantro from seeds bought at the Kelowna Seed Swap and from Sunshine Farm at the Kelowna farmers’ market.

The beets and carrots I planted at 16 per square foot (4x4), lettuce 9 (3x3), and cilantro 4 (2x2).

Can’t wait to see some of the little guys pushing their way up!

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Dinner time: Bruschetta with beet salad
We cleaned up the balcony today and I felt like celebrating with a summery, patio snack. Due to the Senators game that snack turned into dinner, and although it was a bit chilly, it was a tasty “hello” to summer!
I took the last of Beryl’s beets (also featured in "Falafel") and mixed them with some of Curtis’ sprouts from the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market, a little bit of olive oil, and some fresh goat cheese.
For the bruschetta, I mixed some red onion, tomato, garlic, olive oil, olives, and chives, loaded that onto a halved fresh baguette from Okanagan Grocery and topped with some goat cheese.

Dinner time: Bruschetta with beet salad

We cleaned up the balcony today and I felt like celebrating with a summery, patio snack. Due to the Senators game that snack turned into dinner, and although it was a bit chilly, it was a tasty “hello” to summer!

I took the last of Beryl’s beets (also featured in "Falafel") and mixed them with some of Curtis’ sprouts from the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market, a little bit of olive oil, and some fresh goat cheese.

For the bruschetta, I mixed some red onion, tomato, garlic, olive oil, olives, and chives, loaded that onto a halved fresh baguette from Okanagan Grocery and topped with some goat cheese.

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Wine review: Orofino 2010 Scout Vineyard Syrah
Eminently smooth, honest wine. The gentle, velvety tannins are perfect to frame the juicy blueberry flavours that just ooze out between notes of herbs and stone. Lovely stuff.

Wine review: Orofino 2010 Scout Vineyard Syrah

Eminently smooth, honest wine. The gentle, velvety tannins are perfect to frame the juicy blueberry flavours that just ooze out between notes of herbs and stone. Lovely stuff.

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Chef’s table dinner at Summerhill Pyramid Winery

I was lucky enough to join Ezra Cipes, chef Jesse Croy, and a handful of Kelowna food enthusiasts Thursday night at the winery’s first Chef’s Table event of 2012. Each of the seven courses was paired with a wine from Summerhill’s portfolio. A variety of textures and presentations were infused with fresh spring flavours in dishes that were all expertly imagined and executed by Croy and his team.

First course: Sunchoke puree with ginger snap foam. Nice pureed soup with the ginger providing a nice bit of zing to complement the richness of the sunchokes. Wine pairing was the Cipes Brut, with notes of lemon, spice, and bread, and whose lively acidity was integral to the course as a whole.

Second course: Pea risotto with carrot puree, chevre, and duck prosciutto. This was a very fresh, light spring risotto, with great textures and crisp flavours. The wine pairing was the slightly sweet Ehrenfelser with notes of nectarine and honey, which complemented the sharpness of the chevre in much the same way that dessert wines generally do. Lovely pairing.

Third course: Halibut with chanterelle mushroom calamari, cipolini onion rings, nettles, and meyer lemonade butter. Although this course could have used some more lemon in my opinion, the delicacy of the halibut was a highlight of the evening. The ‘08 Syrah, with notes of red fruit, white pepper, and mint, went well with the onion rings and nettles, if not the fish itself. 

Fourth course: pork with potato salad, sunnyside quails egg, and housemade HP. Beautiful piece of pork, wrapped in fat with the consistency of butter. The uber-clean finish of the pear-and-grapefruit-infused Organic Pinot Gris was the perfect foil for the fat and flavour of this delicious, meat-and-potatoes course.

Fifth course: pressed lamb neck date square with kumquats. According to chef Croy, this took five days to prepare. The result was akin to the best, meaty, caramelized bits of sweet BBQ ribs, with the bitterness of the kumquat to render the square’s sweetness balanced. The ‘08 Cabernet Sauvignon, was a great match: its spicy-herbal character provided a nice contrast to the sweetness of the square.

Sixth course: Honeycomb grilled cheese with brie, blue cheese, and parmesan. Simple, buttery, cheesy, tasty— definitely a crowd-pleaser. And who doesn’t like eating with their hands? The peach and pineapple flavours of the Diva’s Delight wine evoked once again the classic combination of sweet wine and sharp cheese.

Seventh course: Syrah-poached flemish pear with spiced syrah syrup, quince mousse, and hazelnut soil. Sort of a deconstructed pear tart— the Zweigelt icewine, with it’s spice-and-fruit profile was a great like-and-like match, a welcome change following an evening of contrasting and complementary pairings.

If you are a food lover in the Okanagan and have the chance this year, it would be well worth a visit to one of Summerhill’s Chef’s Table dinners; if you can’t get a ticket, you can still enjoy chef Jess’s artistry at Sunset Organic Bistro any day of the week.

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Dinner out: de Bakker’s Kitchen, Kelowna

After a leisurely run in Glenmore last week, my girlfriend and I decided to check out a place we’d been hearing a lot about: de Bakker’s Kitchen. Located at the corner of Glenmore and Mountain, they specialize in wood-fired pizzas: you can choose from a list, or build your own.

I went for the “Cured Prosciutto”: tomato sauce, mushrooms, red onions, aged mozzarella, parmesan, and italian prosciutto. There is also a healthy sprinkling of fresh basil on top. It was a lovely combination: the salty prosciutto, the sweetness of the cheese, the freshness from all the vegetables and basil. It was everything I could want in a pizza. My girlfriend tried the “Potato”: Caramelized onion, mushroom, rosemary, smoked bacon, aged mozzarella, parmesan, and potato. She opted out of the bacon, but the result was also delicious. The generous helping of caramelized onions made for a sweeter pizza than mine, and the thin slices of potato helped to create a very satisfying layered texture.

And the crust: o, the crust! Crispy, chewy, smoky, lightly drizzled with olive oil— need I say more? There are other good pizza joints in town, but for authentic old-world pizza, this has to be the best.

The selection of in-house desserts also deserves mention: the chocolate cake is rich and dark without being too sweet, while the poached pears and ice cream was fresh and delicious.

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Beer review: Philips Brewing Co. “Hoperation Tripel Cross”
This is a nicely done, hoppy belgian IPA. Yes, it is very hoppy, but the bitterness of the hops is rendered palatable through the balance of alcohol (8%) and a fresh, citrusy character. There is a lovely floral, malty note on the nose, and in the mouth there is that distinct grapefruit note which characterizes many west-coast IPAs. A slightly spicy, almost peppery note rounds out the finish of what is an all-around refreshing, very tasty beer.

Beer review: Philips Brewing Co. “Hoperation Tripel Cross”

This is a nicely done, hoppy belgian IPA. Yes, it is very hoppy, but the bitterness of the hops is rendered palatable through the balance of alcohol (8%) and a fresh, citrusy character. There is a lovely floral, malty note on the nose, and in the mouth there is that distinct grapefruit note which characterizes many west-coast IPAs. A slightly spicy, almost peppery note rounds out the finish of what is an all-around refreshing, very tasty beer.