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March | April l 2010 | Issue 14-02 | THIS COPY IS FREE


In Defence of French Food

FOOD HERO Mary Alice Johnson Local | Sustainable | Fresh | Seasonal

"Fish, to taste right, must swim three times - in water, in butter, and in wine." — Polish Proverb

A 100% food & wine magazine

Concierge EAT Award Island Gra Seasonal Good for Y Chefs Talk Local Hero Cooking C Victoria Re Eating We Food + Tra



Community Victoria: Re Meyer, Tof Schell Contributo


Pam Durkin, G Jernigan, Tr McAdam, Ka Julie Pegg, G Adem Tepede

Easter treats... from the bottom of the deep blue sea

Bridal Registry Available Broadmead Village, Victoria 130-777 Royal Oak Drive 250-727-2110

for people who love to cook

Publisher P Advertising 250.384.9 All departm

Box 5225, V www.eatma

Since 1998 | reproduced wit Pacific Island G opinions expre Island Gourmet

Concierge Desk . . . . . . . . 6 EAT Awards Results . . . . .8 Island Grain series . . . . .12 Seasonal Foods . . . . . . . .13 Good for You . . . . . . . . . . 14 Chefs Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Local Hero . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Cooking Class . . . . . . . . .17 Victoria Reporter . . . . . . 18 Eating Well for Less . . . .19 Food + Travel . . . . . . . . . .20

Food Matters . . . . . . . . . .22 Feature Recipe . . . . . . . .23 Local Kitchen . . . . . . . . . 24 Vancouver Feature . . . . . 27 Nathan Fong . . . . . . . . . .28 The BC Food Scene . . . . 30 A Chef’s Comment . . . . .36 Liquid Assets . . . . . . . . . 37 Island Wine . . . . . . . . . . .38 Wine & Terroir . . . . . . . . .40 The Mixologist . . . . . . . .42

COVER: In Defense of French Food. Photo by Rebecca Wellman Editor in Chief Gary Hynes Contributing Editor Carolyn Bateman, Vancouver Contributing Editor Julie Pegg Editorial Assistant/Web Editor Rebecca Baugniet

Community Reporters Victoria: Rebecca Baugniet, Nanaimo: Su Grimmer, Comox Valley: Hans Peter Meyer, Tofino | Uclulet: Jen Dart, Vancouver: Julie Pegg, Okanagan: Jennifer Schell Contributors Larry Arnold, Joseph Blake, Michelle Bouffard, Jennifer Danter, Jen Dart, Pam Durkin, Gillie Easdon, Jeremy Ferguson, Nathan Fong, Holland Gidney, Laurie Guy, Mara Jernigan, Tracey Kusiewicz, Kathryn Kusyszyn, Ceara Lornie, Sherri Martin, Rhona McAdam, Kathryn McAree, Denise Marchessault, Michaela Morris, Tim Morris, Colin Newell, Julie Pegg, Genevieve Laplante, Karen Platt, Treve Ring, Solomon Siegel, Elizabeth Smyth, Adem Tepedelen, Michael Tourigny, Sylvia Weinstock, Rebecca Wellman, Katie Zdybel

Publisher Pacific Island Gourmet | EAT ÂŽ is a registered trademark. Advertising: 250.384.9042, All departments Box 5225, Victoria, BC, V8R 6N4, tel. 250-384-9042, fax. 250-384-6915 Since 1998 | EAT Magazine is published six times each year. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Although every effort is taken to ensure accuracy, Pacific Island Gourmet Publishing cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions that may occur. All opinions expressed in the articles are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the publisher. Pacific Island Gourmet reserves the right to refuse any advertisement. All rights reserved. MARCH | APRIL 2010


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DID YOU KNOW? We have over 60 Island farmers who supply us with local produce.

Chef Matt Rissling

Panko crusted Fanny Bay oysters, herb roasted fingerling potato, apple, fennel and celeriac slaw.

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Discover one of our 3 Village locations: James Bay, 104-225 Menzies Street 250-590-3354

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eat magazine March | April 2010

from the editor


tarting on page 8 you will find the results and the winners for the 1st Annual Exceptional Eats! Awards survey. A big thanks to all the readers who voted and a big thanks to all the tweeters, bloggers and businesses that helped get the word out. I’d also like to thank the sponsors who donated fantastic prizes. I’m sure the winners of the draw will enjoy theirs. As we compiled the votes ( a big job) I was struck by how democratic this approach was compared to the typical newspaper or magazine awards. Usually, a small group of critics come up with a few nominations which readers then vote on. With our approach, readers were free to vote for whomever they wanted. Were the results different than if we had had a nominating committee? We’ll never know. But one thing is for certain, the EAT winners are not only a reflection—a snapshot perhaps—of our eating and drinking culture on Vancouver Island; but all the award winners and honourable mention winners deserve our recognition, praise for a job well done and our continuing support of their businesses. Bon appétit Gary Hynes, Editor

500+ Chefs to gather in the Cowichan Valley 2010 Canadian Chefs Congress “Oceans for Tomorrow” Lots of wheels have been churning around meeting tables and kitchen tables in the past few months. Local chefs have taken on the huge task of inviting 500 of Canada’s top culinary professionals to the Canadian Chefs Congress to be held September 11-12 at Providence Farm in the fertile Cowichan Valley. The Farm has a rich and colored history as a convent, residential school and ultimately to it’s current state as working therapeutic and community farm. The conference theme is the Sustainability of our Oceans. Providence Farm is perched on the Cowichan River Estuary and minutes from the shores of the Salish Sea. The beautiful farm will be site to a gathering of chefs described by creator Michael Standtlander as a “woodstock for chefs”. Like the original gathering, this has the potential to be a momentum shifting event for our Canadian Culinary Scene. As the chef’s talk and communicate about their role in the health of oceans, they will be learning and bonding with like minded chefs and creating a stronger chef community as a result. David Suzuki is slated as the keynote speaker and will undoubtedly add a rational and reasoned note to the event. This is a chef-only event but we will be looking for products to purchase from the local food community to feed our visitors and showcase the amazing ingredients of our region. We will also need a number of volunteers, paricularly those that have a stake in the local food communities. It will be an amazing opportunity to learn, interact and celebrate in our local products and with Canadian food heroes. We’ll keep you posted as we get organized with contact info for suppliers and volunteer opportunities. Drop us a comment if you are interested and we’ll see what we can do. For the general public, we’ll bring a little of this culinary fire power together for a fund raising event on May 16th. Coupled with the Spot Prawn Festival (May 15th), a 6-course wine and food pairing event will showcase the food of top chefs like Robert Clark of Vancouver’s C restaurant. Great food, sustainable seafood, local wine all in the name of building a new wood-burning oven for Providence Farm. This will be a great compliment to their educational and food production activities. Tickets are $125/person with all proceeds going into the farm project. We need your help to make this oven fundraiser a roaring success. —By Bill Jones *To volunteer for the James Barber Benefit for Providence Farm contact Bill Jones at For tickets call Providence Farm Info: 250-746-4204 **To purchase tickets to the 2010 Canadian Chefs Congress at Providence Farm go on line to Cost is $200 until June 30, then I believe they go up to $250 MARCH | APRIL 2010


Culinary intelligence for the 2 months ahead


by Rebecca Baugniet

For more events visit THE BULLETIN BOARD at


harbour hous e

Over the past thirty years Harbour House has confirmed its reputation as one of Vancouver Island’s exceptional restaurants. Come warm yourself by our fireplace and enjoy the many delicacies Harbour House Restaurant has to offer, just steps away from Victoria’s picturesque inner harbour.



KAMLOOPS CONSUMER WINE TASTING On March 4th, 2010, sample over 100 wines, watch cooking with wine demonstrations, listen to live music. Kamloops Convention Centre, 1250 Rogers Way, Kamloops. Tickets available at the Kamloops Art Gallery or ORA Restaurant Lounge. Call 250-377-2400 for more information. CELIAC WEEKEND AT THE EMPRESS Saturday March 13, and Sunday March 14 2010, The Empress will be hosting a special Celiac weekend including dinner in The Empress Room and Afternoon Tea. ADVANCED TECHNIQUE SERIES AT FAIRBURN FARM Fairburn Farm’s popular hands-on advanced series is once again being offered for four Sundays in March: March 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th. Attractively packaged and priced for Vancouver Island residents, this is a great way to spend your Sunday afternoons this spring. A perfect way for your friends or family to redeem Fairburn Farm gift certificates, these classes are suitable for cooks of varying levels. You'll finish this series with a wealth of new recipes and techniques! For registration information, visit DEERHOLME FARM DINNER EVENTS March 2o Island Spring Seafood, April 17 Morel Mushrooms. $90/person (plus GST). Classes: March 27 Dungeness Crab (hands-on) April 24 Wild foods and morel mushrooms (forage walk and demo class). $100. see for more details. SPRING CLASSES AT TRIACULINARY STUDIO March 21 at 1 p.m. Triaculinary Studio, located in the Comox Valley, starts its series of spring classes with a day of cooking light and lean with Chef Kathy. In this class, you’ll learn the techniques needed to create flavourful meals without all the fat. From vinaigrettes to properly cooked vegetables, you’ll leave with the know-how to create a variety of healthy meals. $70 + GST. For complete class listings, DINING OUT FOR LIFE Sumac Ridge Winery presents Dining Out For Life on Thursday, March 25th 2010. Eat out and make a difference at one of over 250 participating restaurants, from Whistler to White Rock, across the Fraser Valley and throughout Vancouver Island. On the mainland, 25% of your food bill will be donated to Friends For Life and A Loving Spoonful, while on the island, the same percentage will be donated to AIDS Vancouver Island, to support people living with HIV/AIDS. For more information, and to see the list of participating restaurants, visit AN EVENING OF AUSTRALIAN WINE TASTING On March 26th. You will be introduced to new wine styles like sparkling and rosé, explore unusual grape varieties such as Verdelho, Marsanne and Touriga Nacional and visit lesser-known regions including Heathcote, Margaret River and the Yarra Valley. This is a rare opportunity to get to know Australia more intimately and learn about her impressive

DINE AROUND & STAY IN TOWN VICTORIA February 18th to March 7th, 2010. Participating restaurants offer three-course menus for $20, $30 or $40 CDN per person and are all paired with BC VQA wine suggestions. Dine Around & Stay in Town Victoria is offering accommodations to compliment this experience, these options will allow food lovers to pamper themselves with an overnight stay. Accommodations are priced at $69, $79, $99 and $129. DINE OUT VANCOUVER 2010 Dine Out Vancouver 2010 is the annual event that allows thousands of local food enthusiasts and tourists to dine at some of Vancouver's top restaurants at equally attractive prices. Last year’s edition involved each participating restaurant featuring a special three-course menu at a fixed price of $18, $28, or $38. April 26 to May 6, 2010. To view the list of participating restaurants, visit commitment to sustainability. Buschlen Mowatt Gallery Main Floor - 1445 West Georgia St 7:00-10:00pm. Cost $39. QUAILS’ GATE WINE RECEPTION Friday, March 26th, The Fairmont Empress presents a Quails' Gate Wine Reception - a wine tasting and pairing event. FOR THE LOVE OF AFRICA SOCIETY ANNUAL FUNDRAISER The For the Love of Africa Society is hosting its annual fundraiser Saturday March 27th. The event will be an African Dinner including entertainment with Jordan Hanson Hand Drum Rhythms and will be held at the Mary Winspear Center 2243 Beacon Ave. Sidney, BC. All proceeds support the work of CHOCOLATE FEST AT BEAR MOUNTAIN RESORT This year’s chocolate fest will be held Saturday, March 27th at Bear Mountain Resort, and is presented by Big Brothers Big Sisters Victoria. For more information, visit QUADY DESSERT COMPETITION The 22nd annual Quady Dessert Competition will be held Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28, 2010 at Major the Gourmet’s kitchen in Vancouver. Pastry chefs, cooks and students will compete for prizes including a trip to California for two. The competition, now in its 22nd year, is held in conjunction with the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival’s ‘Celebrating Excellence’. The competition is unique in Canada and celebrates pastry kitchens across British Columbia inviting competitors from the Okanagan Valley, Vancouver Island and Vancouver.

April 2ND INTERNATIONAL CANADIAN ALBACORE TUNA CONVENTION & TRADE SHOW The Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation in conjunction with the B. C. Tuna Fishermen's Association is hosting the second Canadian Albacore Tuna Convention and Trade

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Show to celebrate the 8th Anniversary of CHMSF and the 10th Anniversary of BCTFA. This two day event will take place April 19-21, 2010 at the Bear Mountain Resort, Langford, BC. BC FOODSERVICE EXPO IN VANCOUVER Sunday, April 25, 2010 to Monday, April 26th, 2010 (Monday), the Vancouver Convention Centre is host to Western Canada’s largest hospitality trade show. For more information, visit QUALICUM BEACH ROTARY CLUB WINE FEST April 10th, 2010 from 7 pm -9pm, experience this very popular annual Rotary event Tickets available from any Rotarian or at Mulberry Bush Book Store. Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, 747 Jones Street, Qualicum. Call 250-7524258 for more details. VANCOUVER PLAYHOUSE INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival runs from April 19th-25th 2010, and attracts some of the biggest industry names from around the world. It is firmly established as the continent's premier wine event and among the biggest, best and oldest wine events in the world. It features wine tastings and pairings, gourmet dinners and luncheons, educational seminars and culinary competitions. This is a rare opportunity to meet owners, winemakers and senior representatives from wineries around the globe. For either the experienced wine lover or the novice, the festival has something to please every palate and pocketbook. For event details, visit Annual Ottavio BIG CHEESE CUT Come see the kitchen boys & girls of Ottavio cut the largest wheels of cheese made in the world today including Pecorino Romano, Cave Aged Organic Gruyere, the Italian beauty Parmigiano Reggiano & the behemoth Swiss Mountain Emmenthal, weighing in at over 200lb. Tastings & specials, fun for the whole family! Saturday April 25th 11:00. OKANAGAN SPRING WINE FESTIVAL The Okanagan Spring Wine Festival has been described as "one of Canada's best small festivals" and it is no wonder that its success con-

On Thursday April 22, 2010, The Crystal Garden will be home to Culinaire, Victoria’s Premier Food Tasting Experience, where over 40 of our region’s best restaurants and purveyors of fine food will showcase their signature items and inspired creations. “Culinaire is a food focused event that will give our regional restaurants and fine food purveyors the opportunity to showcase their culinary vision to a captive audience of Foodies and lovers of great cuisine”, said Scott Gurney, creator of Culinaire. “Victoria's food scene is large and sometimes daunting. With so many great choices and unique places available, it can be very hard to choose from. This event will give the guest the chance to try an assortment of new foods and exclusive dishes in a relaxed environment.” added Gurney. The $20 admission includes 10 food tastings from presenters. Additional tastings are available at a cost of only $1 per item. The event also supports students in the industry as partial proceeds from the event will be providing scholarship opportunities to the Camosun College Culinary Arts Program. Advance tickets: or charge by phone at 250-220-7777 Tickets are also available through the event website. For full event details and a list of presenters visit tinues to grow. From April 30th to May 9th, 2010, experience a wide range of culinary treats from light lunches to gourmet dinners served at many fabulous locations, what better way to visit Okanagan Wine Country during the first weekend in May. Held at various locations throughout Okanagan Wine Country. Visit PERFECT PAIRING AT JACKSON-TRIGGS From April 29th to May 3rd, 2010 from 10AM 6PM, celebrate the start of a new season and experience the 'perfect pairing'. Discover Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estates beautiful Tasting Gallery where you can savour the award winning collection of Grand Reserve and SunRock Vineyard wines all selectively paired with the finest Swiss chocolate from Lindt. JacksonTriggs Okanagan Estate Tasting Gallery, 38691 HWY 97, North Oliver. Call 1-866-455-0559 for more information. James Barber Benefit for Providence Farm May 16. Tickets: $125/person, proceeds to the Providence Farm Woodburning Oven Project. Sixcourses: local food and wine. Top BC Chefs from the Canadian Chefs Congress: Rob Clark, C Restaurant; Bill Jones, Deerholme Farm; Brock Windsor, Stone Soup Inn; Cory Pelan, La Piola; Jonathan Pulker, Pizzeria Primastrada; David Lang, Harbour House Hotel. Live music, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm. For tickets call Providence

Farm Info: 250-746-4204 If you have a food or wine event you would like to see listed in the next issue of EAT, please email and put Concierge Desk in the subject line.

Doing your own thing. That’s the Clancy’s way.

Clancy of the Overflow is the legendary Aussie literary character, a free-spirited, wandering drover who led a life of adventure. Peter Lehmann has a lot of Clancy in him. He’s always done things his own way. His Clancy’s range is a nod to doing your own thing. Overflowing with flavour, these easy drinking wines are created especially for those with a bit of Clancy in them.



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READ 1st Annual

Readers Choice EXCEPTIONAL EATS! Awards Vancouver Islanders weigh in with their food and drink choices. Where do we eat, shop and drink?



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Last issue we posed the question: What kind of eater are you? We knew EAT readers can be vocal about what they like. They eat loyally at their favourite restaurants; shop for quality ingredients at farm markets, specialty delis and bakeries; and support a sustainable, seasonal and local approach to eating. Some prefer taste above all else, others support ethical buying and concern for the environment over genetically produced foods; while still others follow the 100 mile diet and forgo bland foods flown in at high cost. To Vancouver Island, a big thank-you for your tremendous response to the 1st Annual Exceptional Eats! Awards reader’s survey. You went online in droves and barely flinched at the wopping 38 questions we posed. You’ve proven beyond a doubt you are one of the most passionate and savvy food & wine regions in BC, Canada—hey— even North America. Go ahead and boast. You live in a vibrant, giving and bountiful food community. From our top chefs to the

farms and farmstands up and down the Island to your overwhelming support for local small shops, restaurants and businesses, Islanders are a unique bunch and deserve your own food and drink awards. Without further adieu, here are the results and winners. We have listed the top winners on these pages but there are many more who deserve recognition that we couldn’t fit in due to space constraints. Pease go online for a complete list of honourable mention winners, regional winners and further survey results. Go to and follow the links. The lucky winners of the prize draw are: The Luxury Empress Weekend Caryn Clark (Sponsored by Fairmont Hotels & EAT) Mocca Master Thermal Brewer Lon Temereski (Sponsored by Deerholme Dinner for Two Joanne Spence (Sponsored by Deerholme Farm)

Who has the Best Food?

Essential Island Experience

Best Sustainable Seafood Source

Brasserie L’Ecole (GOLD) Cafe Brio (SILVER) Zambris (BRONZE)

Sooke Harbour House (GOLD) Red Fish Blue Fish (SILVER) The Pointe at Wickaninnish (BRONZE)

Finest at Sea (GOLD) Thrifty Foods (SILVER) Victoria Fisherman’s Wharf (BRONZE)

While these three medalwinning restaurants often trade place for top spot, the pre-dinner line-ups at Brasserie prove they’ve struck the right chord with local eaters.


Camilles Restaurant Stage Wine Bar Il Terrazzo Sooke Harbour House Bistro 28 Go online for more winners

Best Farm-to-Table Cooking (use of local ingredients) Camilles Restauarant (GOLD) Sooke Harbour House (SILVER) Cafe Brio (BRONZE) We get somewhat different top spots when we skew the question to restaurants featuring local products and ingredients.


Brasserie L’Ecole Zambris Locals La Piola Spinnakers Go online for more winners

Most Inspiring Local Chef Peter Zambri (Zambris) (GOLD) Sean Brennan (Brasserie L’Ecole (SILVER) David Mincey (Camilles) (BRONZE) Top chefs not only ensure that the food coming off the stove is first rate but they inspire younger chefs to strive for the best.


Jeff Keenliside (Lucy’s in the Square) George Szaz (Stage) Edward Tuson (The Edge) Cory Pelan (La Piola) Alison Bigg and Jena Stewart (Devour) Go online for more winners

Favourite Place to Breakfast TIE: Mo:Le / Blue Fox Cafe (GOLD) Shine Cafe (SILVER) John’s Place Restaurant (BRONZE) ey say a city runs on its collective stomach. Given all the top breakfast joints in town we are off to great start to the day.


Floyd's Diner The Village on Estevan Lady Marmalade Go online for more winners

Can anyone really say what the quintessential Island experience would be? Could it be lazily sitting outdoors munching on fresh seafood and taking in the rays? Or sitting in a comfy dining room on the coast watching the winter surf crash outside? Here readers have their say on where they found their best Island food experience.


Deep Cove Chalet Hastings House Oak Bay Marina Zanatta Winery Vinoteca Point No Point SoBo Aura Waterfront The Empress Room

Best $10 or under Menu Bite 5 Tacos for $5, Hernandez Cocina (GOLD) Pulled Pork Sandwich $5, Pig BBQ Joint (SILVER) Vietnamese Ginger Caramel Chicken, Foo (BRONZE) Readers got this dead right. I see many of my go-to favourites. Do you see yours? I’ll be dining out on the answers to this question for months to come. With so many reader tips to follow-up on look for more ten buck dishes within the pages of EAT in coming issues.


Fish Tacones $5, Red Fish Blue Fish $5 and $10 menus, Fifth St. Frites with parmesan, garlic, parsley, truffle oil $8 Brasserie L'ecole Haloumi with local tomatoes & herb vinaigrette $10, Stage Grilled Meatball Pannino $5, Italian Food Imports Cambodian Jungle Curry $10 Noodle Box

Ocean Wise Top-of-Mind Red Fish Blue Fish Canoe e Marina Lure Blue Crab Spinnakers


Market on Yates Satellite Fish Company Portuguese Joe's Fish Market Mad Dog Crabs Seafood French Creek Seafood

Specialty Food Shop or Deli Ottavio Italian Bakery & Delicatessen (GOLD) Choux Choux Charcuterie (SILVER) Charelli's Cheese Shop & Deli (BRONZE) Islanders love small businesses and support them with their wallets. is bunch of expert entrepreneurs see to it that we are well-stocked with cheeses, charcuterie and the best ingredients.


Plenty Epicurean Pantry Ambrosio Markets & Deli Red Barn Italian Food Import McLean's Specialty Foods Go online for more winners

Favourite Butcher Slater's First Class Meats (GOLD) Thrifty Foods (SILVER) The Red Barn (BRONZE) e trade of butcher is disappearing in North America. Luckily for us, we have many skilled and knowledgeable butchers in our midst—not only in Victoria but around the Island.

Go online for more winners


The Village Butcher Market on Yates Glenwood Meats Cowichan Valley Meat Market Alia Halal Meat & Deli Peppers Foods Nesvog Meats & Sausage Go online for more winners

Who Has the Best Chocolate?

Favourite Bakery or Pastry Shop

Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut (GOLD) Rogers' Chocolates (SILVER) Chocolat (BRONZE)

Fol Epi Bakery (GOLD) Wild Fire Bread & Pastry (SILVER) Pure Vanilla Bakery & Cafe (BRONZE)

Appreciation for the ancient favourite has never been higher and plenty of places oblige with many local chocolate makers incorporating local ingredients into their creations. Yet, there’s work to be done on the fair trade front.


Purdy's Chocolates Plenty Epicurean Pantry Organic Fair Spinnakers Market on Yates Hot Chocolates

Give us our daily bread (and pastries). Vancouver Island has some of the best bakers around. Take that Vancouver!


The Italian Bakery Bubby Rose’s Bakery Patisserie Daniel Ottavio True Grain Bread Go online for more winners MARCH | APRIL 2010


Island Owned Coffee Shops

Favourite Local Farm

Tea Purveyors

Habit Coffee (GOLD) Caffe Fantastico (SILVER) Discovery Coffee (BRONZE)

Madrona Farm (GOLD) Sun Wing Tomatoes (SILVER) Mitchell Farms (BRONZE)

Silk Road (GOLD) Murchie’s (SILVER) Special Teas (BRONZE)

Ever tried to find great coffee in Toronto? Vancouver Island has one of the highest concentration of independent coffee shops brewing high quality, fair-trade and organic coffee. What are you waiting for? Take a break and order up an espresso or soy latte.


2% Jazz Coffee Moka House Coffee Serious Coffee Mirage Coffee The Black Stilt Buon Amici's Coffee Go online for more winners

Best Selection of BC Wines Fort Street BC Liquor Store (GOLD) BC Wineguys Cadboro Bay Rd. (SILVER) Everything Wine (BRONZE) If you don’t know by now that BC wines are equal to any - you’ve been living in a rain barrel. Finding BC wines has never been easier.


The Wine Barrel Spinnakers Spirit Merchants Cascadia Liquor Hillside Liquor The Wine Shop at Mattick's Farm

Best Overall Wine Store Fort Street BC Liquor Store (GOLD) TIE: Cascadia / Spinnakers (SILVER) Hillside Liquor (BRONZE) When it comes to choice our privately-owned liquor stores are giving the government a good run for our money. And that’s good for all of us. Look for great customer service in both gov’t and private stores.


Cook St. Village Liquor Everything Wine The Strath Ale, Wine & Spirit Liquor Plus Beverly Corners Liquor Store 6 Mile Liquor Store

Favourite Beverage Company Phillips Brewery (GOLD) Merridale Estate Cidery (SILVER) Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse (BRONZE) HONOURABLE MENTIONS


Island Wineries Venturi-Schulze Averill Creek Vineyard Starling Lane Winery Blue Grouse Estate Winery

Salt Spring Island Ales Driftwood Brewery Spinnakers Victoria Spirits Tugwell Creek Meadery

Knowledgeable Service Solomon (Solomons) (GOLD) Michael (La Piola) (SILVER) Francis (Zambris) (BRONZE) At most restaurants and bars servers come and go - inevitably moving on to somewhere, something else. A few stay and become very good at their jobs. And we are very happy when that happens. Here’s a little recognition for all the slams, the weeds, the stiffs, the 86s, the campers and the long hours.



Restaurants Lisa (Cafe Brio) Jeff (Paprika Bistro) Micki (Lucy’s) Brian (SIPS) Bar Steve (Stage) Steve (Brasserie L’ecole) Shawn (Clives) Vinnie (Canoe) Hector (Marriott)


At the heart of it all are our farms and farmers. Without them we’d have little to eat. ey work hard, often for little money. Give it up for the farms of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands!


Fairburn Farm (water buffalo) Cowichan Bay Farm Ragley Farm Dan's Farm and Market Go online for more winners

Hot on coffee’s heels, the tea culture on the Island continues to expand and develop. Restaurants and cafes now cater to connoisseurs of fine Chinese, Taiwan, Indian and Japanese teas.


Venus Sophia Tea Room NetkenicTea Center Mela’s Tea Room The Empress White Heather

Tea your time has come.

Event that Inspired Feast of Fields (GOLD) Defending Our Backyard (SILVER) Great Canadian Beer Festival (BRONZE) We are often defined by what we do. If that’s true we are an active lot busily attending food and wine festivals, improving ourselves at school and just getting out there and going to all the tastings, dinners and events that are in seemingly endless supply on the Island. HONOURABLE MENTIONS Cooking Classes

Heidi Fink Cooking Classes French Mint, Terralicious


Taste Art of the Cocktail Victoria Tea Festival Tofino Food & Wine Fest HONOURABLE MENTIONS Activities

Madrona Chef Survival Spanish Day at Ottavio Dine Around Tasting at Sea Cider

Influential Food Movement / Project ICC Bastion Square Farmer Market (GOLD) TLC’s Save Madrona Farm (SILVER) Slow Food Vancouver Island (BRONZE) Without change there can be no progress towards a better life. ese explemplary organizations work tirelessly for the Island’s food security and deserve support.


Lifecycles Fruit Tree Project 100-Mile Diet Food Roots / Pocket Markets Ocean Wise Grain Growing on the Island LUSH Valley Community Gardens SPIN / Backyard Farming

Lifetime Acheivement Award David Mincey A well-know food and wine personality in Victoria for many years, David Mincey has gone beyond being the chef and restaurateur behind the successful Camille’s Fine Westcoast Dining on Bastion Square. His extraordinary classes on chocolate at the University of Victoria make him the resident expert on the subject. He also gives to the community in other ways. His tenacious support of local farms through the development of a grant program to assist farms with infrastructure and as the force behind the start-up of the Island Chefs Collaborative Farmers Market on Bastion Square, makes him deserving of this award. He has done a tremendous amount for the Island and its food culture. David. We thank-you!

Best Place for Appies & Drinks Stage Wine Bar (GOLD) Tapa Bar (SILVER) TIE: Veneto /Chateau Victoria (BRONZE) After the day’s work is done isn’t it time for a little R&R at your favourite watering hole? Take a seat at the bar, raise a glass and toast these top picks.


Canoe Solomon’s The Mint Irish Times Spinnakers Pescatores Glo Brasserie L’ecole

Killer Kid Hangouts Pizzeria Prima Strada (GOLD) White Spot (SILVER) Fifth Street Grill (BRONZE) Hey, kid’s are people too. ey have a right to take a seat at the dining table and nosh with the rest of us. Here’s where to take the little people to out to dine.


Ferris Canoe Milestones Moxies Rebar Modern Food Pagliacci's Lucy’s on the Square Nautical Nellies Earl’s

Who Advocates For Food Issues? David Mincey (ICC) (GOLD) Dr. Sinclair Philips (Slow Food) (SILVER) TIE: Mara Jernigan (Slow Food) /Carolyn Herriot (Garden Path Centre) (BRONZE) ere are many individuals, organizations and community leaders working to promote a more sustainable Island cuisine.


Lee Fuge (Foodroots) Ken Heuston (chef, Past President ICC) Gary Hynes (EAT Magazine) Tina Fraser Baynes (organic farmer) Peter Zambri (chef ) Brent Petkau (oyster grower) Here are a few, chosen Bill Jones (Canadian Chefs Congress) by readers, that deserve Dan Jason (seed saver) your recognition. Lana Popham (MLA for Saanich South) Lyle Young (poultry farmer)


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A journalist’s journey into cultural centre cuisine.

D By Adrien Sala

ays before our first cultural centre food night, friends and I had been discussing the best places to find authentic food in Victoria. The age-old adage came up in the conversation: follow the home crowd. Want good Italian? Go where the Italians eat. Same thing works for great Chinese, Polish, Mexican and every other country that has ever served food. With that in mind we decided to take on the intriguing “Schnitzel Night,” which happens the first Thursday of every month in James Bay at the German Canadian Culture Society (a.k.a The Edelweiss Club, a.k.a The German Club). What follows is an account of that night. Words of advice: get there early. Doors at 5:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. We arrive five minutes late and 91st in line. We’re asked to pay $12.50 in cash, which will get us a ticket we can trade in for a plate of the famous schnitzel. We then follow the herd moving into the dining hall, where we’re left to wait at a large round table as numbers are called and people line up to get fed. In the dining hall, which is reminiscent of a large legion/bingo hall, a white-haired accordion player is on stage quietly turning out tunes like “Rock Around the Clock,” lightly swaying from foot to foot to keep time. Behind him is a hand-painted facade of a chateau nestled alongside a river at the bottom of a valley in the German Alps. Barrels are scattered about the room and the walls are adorned with plaques that display mini-histories; from one of them I learn that in the early 1980s, Matildhe Kopplin was a force to be reckoned with in a sport called discing.





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5:48 p.m. We’ve been summoned through a scratchy loudspeaker to join the queue and have discovered that the line itself is a model of efficiency. Most diners know the drill, and even though I’m learning as I go, the order of business is easy to follow: “Ticket first, food second.” No one shoves or jumps ahead, except for one older woman who has obvious weight around here that no one appears ready to take on. I do everything I can to avoid her eye as she steps directly in front of me, daring me to challenge her privilege. I just let it happen as the line shuffles along the stainless steel pass bar in sideways half-steps and do as I’m told. 5:53 p.m. It’s a little intimidating, this line-up. Two people away from my turn, which will mean I’ll be in the full view of Rosella, the head caterer, I’m suddenly aware that I have no idea what comes next. My schnitzel skills are naught so I lean in to listen as the others get their plates. 5:55 p.m. I identify that a request for “A little of everything” appears to be the most popular choice. 5:56 p.m. Fully weighted with meal and utensils, I head back to our table to sit with my meal, fascinated by its shape. Unaccustomed to schnitzel, I find that other than a peculiar island shooting off the northeast corner, mine actually resembles Germany. I don’t comment on this to my dinner mates, but do take stock of what countries they have. Tracy, my pregnant friend, has one that looks like Russia. Everyone else appears to have African countries. The other noticeable physical quality that all the schnitzels at the table share with mine is that they are astoundingly large, like biggish personal pizzas. Also, everything is beige. Even the purple cabbage has absorbed some of the subdued hue so prevalent among breaded items. Now, for the uninitiated, the dynamics of schnitzel appear pretty straightforward. The meat can range from veal to chicken to pork to just about anything as long as it’s squishable (tonight it is pork). To prepare, the chef takes the selected protein, gently places it on a chopping block and then beats the living daylights out of it with a mallet until it looks entirely unlike any animal you’ve ever seen. The next step is to coat it in egg and flour and breadcrumbs. When that’s all finished, Chef heats a skillet, fries the lot in butter, and voila, schnitzel. Sound easy? Well, it’s not. Like mastery in anything, the relative appearance of ease is deceiving. There are variables at hand that only a true talent nurtured over the years can ever hope to fully understand (which is why the best schnitzelers are often the elderly). Each has its own thickness, individual girth and specific amount of breadcrumbs. The heat distribution, too, is decidedly different depending on its shape; and conditional to the pro-

tein, the mood of the chef at that moment the meat hits the pan and the number of pieces to be schnitzeled during the evening, an infinite number of bad outcomes are possible. It all adds up to make Schnitzel Night a hell of a risky experience since, as would be expected, there are no other options on the menu. 6:24 p.m. Mono-coloured cuisine is daunting, but somehow the meal is exactly appropriate for winter weather. And, at the risk of sounding influenced, I submit to you that Rosella, although not elderly per se, has that one-in-a-bunch skill that makes the schnitzel taste breathtakingly authentic in a grandmotherly way. Topped off with her sauerkraut, cabbage, mashed potatoes and gravy, the entire thing makes me feel like a little kid from fables who eats too much at dinner then sneaks away to fall dead asleep by the fire before being carried away to bed. It’s a cute image, but two hours from now, at 8:30 p.m., I’ll be calling that same feeling a food coma and my body will be catatonic and worried, and, just a little bit confused. It will probably be the earliest I’ve been to bed since I was eleven. 6:40 p.m. I should stop eating, but somehow I feel that in order to get the full experience I have to try the dessert. It’s an apple sponge, something that members get for free. I buck up the $2.75 it costs for visitors and bring it back to my sweating, distended friends who throw me evil eyes as I plop it down in the middle of the table. It’s gone in minutes and we waddle out of the German Canadian Cultural Society full beyond imagination. 6:53 p.m. My brain is shutting down because it is dark and I’m in the backseat of my friend’s car and my entire internal system is occupied with digesting Germany-shaped food items. I hardly notice the drive home, but when I eventually do fumble out of their car, I’m momentarily upset that they don’t offer to carry me upstairs. I’m over it by the time I collapse on the sofa, which is where I will be for the next month repairing and preparing to do it all over again. MARCH | APRIL 2010



— by Holland Gidney


The final article in EAT’s three-part series on B.C.’s grain-aissance.



hen it comes to grain, it’s possible to shrink your 100-Mile Diet to 100 metres if you’re willing to get your hands dirty: a few seeds and a bit of land is all it takes to grow a loaf of bread. And wheat’s much less fussy than tomatoes. “If you can grow grass, you can grow grain,” proclaims the Island Grains project website. In fact, as participants in what turned out to be Vancouver Island’s largest grain-growing trial this year (myself included) discovered, grain might just be easier to grow than grass—especially when you don’t have to supply the land or prepare it for planting. Inspired in part by a second-hand copy of homesteading guru Gene Logsdon’s 1977 book Small-Scale Grain Raising, Brock McLeod and Heather Walker decided to invite 100 would-be farmers to plant 51 plots of grain at their Vancouver Island farm last April. The two Duncan farmers harvested small amounts of grain in 2008 and had already planted rye as a cover crop in the fall of 2009 when they were listening to Jon Steinman’s Deconstructing Dinner radio show last fall and heard how excited participants in the Kootenay Grain CSA were to visit the three Creston Valley farms where their grain was being grown. It convinced them to start what might be best described as a grain-growing club at their Makaria Farm on Bench Road near Cowichan Station, with the goal of getting people back in touch with where grains come from and demonstrate how easy they are to grow. Over the course of the spring and summer, we “grainies” learned about seed selection, planting timing and techniques, pests, weeding, harvesting, threshing, and even cooking with whole grains. The knowledge we collected from the experience was as valuable as the grain we all harvested at the end of August, and it proved that Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds was right: grains are easier than just about anything else you could grow. “Some people are intimidated because they think it can only be done by industrial agriculture,” he says. But even the hands-off, no-weeding, no-watering approach that many grainies adopted still yielded good grain. And it works equally well in backyards, as Claudia and Darren Copley found when they planted grain for the second year in a row in their Saanich garden. “Growing it is a cinch,” says Claudia who describes their process of planting oats, barley and three kinds of wheat as “prepare ground, sow, walk away.” Their intention was to produce steel-cut oats for breakfast, whole-grain barley for stews, and wheat flour for bread. However, freeing the oats from their hulls was a “nightmare.” It may be easy to grow grain, but where small-scale producers like the Copleys often run into trouble is after they harvest it because small-scale equipment is lacking in North America. For Islands Grains’ harvest day on August 24, Walker and McLeod had a collection of sickles, scythes and scissors on hand, and Dan Jason, who’s been growing grain since 1986, brought along his homemade threshing box for people to try. There was even the option of having the grain milled into flour by Bruce Stewart of True Grain Bread. Having to use makeshift harvest tools and not having access to a combine are two of the most common challenges to grain growers Chris Hergesheimer identified during his master’s thesis research. Or as he put it: “Equipment and machinery sharing, and the lack of adequate ‘post-harvest infrastructure’ (cleaning, storage, milling facilities).” Except in the Peace River District, which has several seed-cleaning co-operatives, and the North Okanagan, which has at least one milling co-operative, there is a serious lack of postharvest infrastructure for anyone wanting to process more than a small amount of grain for personal consumption. But what small-scale grain growers lack in equipment and infrastructure, they make up for in ingenuity. When asked to supply a local chef with two pounds of rye for an event, Walker and McLeod “harvested with scissors and threshed with a shoe.” On Salt Spring Island, Linda Quiring says the half-dozen folks who grew grain there this year all got together one afternoon to get their wheat threshed communally by “the only combine on the Island.” Dirk Keller of Qualicum Beach’s Sloping Hill Farm loaded his half-acre wheat harvest into two livestock trailers for threshing by combine-owner Wayne Smith in Port Alberni. Since Walker is optimistic that a good number of Island Grains participants will grow grain again, she suggests an equipment co-op may be the “logical next step.” Hergesheimer agrees, but he doesn’t believe small-scale grain production will ever become the norm. “But it will become a more prominent method in this refashioning of our relationship to grain, flour and bread,” he says. “We have been all about scaling up production, scaling up our machinery, scaling up our ‘commodities.’ In a sense, the backyard plots or the small CSA farms help us scale down again.” If we all scale down and start paying attention to the origin of the grains we consume, and maybe even taking responsibility for growing them ourselves, small-scale grain production may just become the next trend in local eating—and you can’t beat the taste of that. “Local grains taste different,” says Hergesheimer. “They taste like success, they taste like optimism. They taste like revolution.”





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SPRING FAVOURITES Spicy Roasted Vegetable Stew This delectable fragrant stew can be varied by adding cubes of cooked lamb near the end of cooking. Another idea is to add chunks of raw red snapper to the pot near the end of cooking until the pieces are cooked through. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth for a vegetarian stew. Vary the vegetables according to the seasons and add your favourite veggies to the dish. Roasting some of the vegetables deepens and sweetens their flavours. To make it less spicy, remove the seeds from the chilies, or use only one chile with the seeds removed. 2 carrots, chopped 1 medium red potato, chopped in bite-size chunks 2 medium zucchinis, chopped in bite-size chunks 1 red bell pepper, chopped in bite-size chunks 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 2 whole cloves 1/3 of a cinnamon stick 2 green cardamom pods, bruised 2 tablespoons of butter 1 or 2 jalapeno chile peppers, minced (with or without seeds, to taste)

1 bay leaf 2 inches fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced 1 medium onion, chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 3 lime leaves 1/2 cup green beans, cut in 2-inch pieces 6 asparagus spears, cut in 2-inch pieces 2 medium tomatoes, chopped 1/2 cup chicken broth 1/2 cup coconut milk 1/2 cup cooked lentils 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

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Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a bowl, toss carrots, potatoes, zucchini and red peppers in olive oil. Place on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes until veggies are slightly brown. Remove and set aside. In a heavy-bottomed stainless steel soup pot, dry roast cinnamon, cardamom and cloves over medium heat for 2 minutes until are fragrant. Add butter, chilies, bay leaf, ginger and onions and stir-fry until the onions are translucent. Add roasted vegetables, and stir and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add salt, black pepper, turmeric, lime leaves, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes and chicken broth. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender (Add more broth if necessary). Add coconut milk, cooked lentils and mustard seeds. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Fiddleheads. The peak season for fresh fiddleheads is April to July. Their spring fresh flavour hints of asparagus, green beans, okra, artichokes and mushrooms. Trim and boil them, and toss them in melted butter or olive oil and lemon juice or drizzle them with vinaigrette. Asparagus. Spear some asparagus during their peak season, from March to May. Artichokes. March is the peak season for California artichokes. Dandelion Greens. Instead of being vexed by the dandelions sprouting in your lawn, eat their leaves when they are young and tender. These detoxifying greens can be eaten raw in salads, or briefly blanched, steamed or sautéed like spinach. Fava Beans. Fresh fava beans are only available from April through June, from California or local farms. Morels. These honeycombed mushrooms can be found from March to July. They have a nutty, smoky, intensely earthy flavour. Gigantic Papayas. Foot-long Mexican papayas are juicy and flavourful. They are available in March. Pineapples. You can buy pineapples year-round, but they are especially sweet and juicy during their peak season from March to June. Cherry Rhubarb. The season for fresh cherry rhubarb starts now and lasts until June. Perennial Garden Herbs. Tarragon, chives and other perennial herbs are reawakening in the garden. Citrus Fruit. The peak season for blood oranges, grapefruit, oranges, kumquats and tangelos ends in mid-April. MARCH | APRIL 2010


L3 a iola


GOOD FOR YOU — by Pam Durkin 3189 Quadra St. Next to the Italian Bakery

Call for reservations: 388-4517

The Best of Italy and Vancouver Island

Cucina Tradizionale Gastronomia Locale

LOGGING THE BLOGS Pam Durkin reviews some of the best natural food blogs on the Web. Searching for a great recipe for tonight’s dinner? Rather than relying on your overperused cookbooks, why not turn to one of the Web’s many food blogs for inspiration? While food blogs aren’t exactly new, easier-to- use templates and the popular film Julie and Julia (based on one woman’s blogging experience) have helped their numbers swell substantially in the past two years. Amid this plethora are some very useful blogs for health-conscious foodies seeking taste and nutrition. And I’m delighted to report that I’ve found some excellent ones created right here in B.C.—let’s take a look. Authored by Elizabeth Nyland, a 26-year-old stay-at-home mom from Victoria with a food industry background, this blog features a vibrant mix of healthy, inventive dinner recipes and wholesome, although rich, desserts. Nyland unabashedly admits to loving desserts but strives for balance in her life and blog by creating healthy mains that feature local, seasonal produce. Some recipe highlights include crab and shrimp cakes with lemon aioli, cold soba salad, caramel and apple cream tart and brown butter whole wheat blueberry muffins. Nyland’s writing style is endearing and her passion for food infectious. The photography is both professional and seductive. Visit this blog and I’m sure you will agree—this young woman has a cookbook deal in her future! Chowtimes started as an “experiment” in 2006 for Ben and Suanne, a couple from Richmond, B.C., with no formal training in the food industry. Stay-at-home mom Suanne attends the Richmond Community Kitchen and generates the recipes for the blog. Ben, a self -proclaimed foodie, is responsible for the site’s discerning restaurant reviews and travel diaries. According to Ben, “delicious diversity” is the theme of this blog, and it’s readily apparent in the intriguing blend of ethnic recipes presented. And the good news—healthy recipe options are offered for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. The Tuscan kale salad, quinoastuffed peppers and the Moroccan chicken are a few samples. Easy to navigate and very informative, this site belies the couple’s “amateur” status.


EAT MAGAZINE MARCH | APRIL 2010 Vancouver native Melody Fury, a self-professed food writer/food-photographer/entrepreneur is the author of this appealing blog. Clearly a “renaissance” foodie, Fury writes with authority and shares beautiful photos of her recipes and culinary excursions. I loved her post from Paris—“Classical Art vs. Charcuterie Art.” I’m also a fan of the site’s “Beet ’n Squash You” feature—a monthly challenge between fellow bloggers and readers to see who can come up with the best recipe highlighting a specific vegetable. Fury’s own recipes tend to combine a healthy blend of Asian and West Coast Cuisine, and many of her creations are inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine Diet Therapy. Her summer papaya and halibut soup and warm beet and scallop salad with crab apple relish are perfect examples of her light, healthy approach to dining. Featuring both nutritional information and delicious whole food recipes, this blog is the brainchild of a UBC dietetics undergrad named Stephanie. The articles present the latest nutritional news in layman’s terms and the recipes range from the simple to the delectable. Try her oatmeal with tofu, scallions and edamame and you’ll never think of the grain as a boring staple again. OK, so this blog isn’t local—but it is, in my opinion, the best natural food blog on the Web. Created by San Francisco-based photographer and food writer Heidi Swanson, this blog has garnered a lot of international press and is a favourite of health-conscious foodies worldwide. Swanson’s focus is on natural, whole-food vegetarian recipes either culled from her personal collection of more than 100 cookbooks or created by herself or one of her “foodie” friends. She offers “basic techniques” for cooking neophytes and provides a library of mouth-watering recipes that will leave you pondering how something so delectable can be good for you. I can personally vouch for the simply delightful carrot, dill and white bean salad and the amazing black bean brownies. The latter, a dense, fudge-textured piece of heaven, will have you convinced Swanson is an alchemist.


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— by Ceara Lornie

If you had a month to explore an area, to immerse yourself in the culture and cuisine, where would you go? Matt Rissling The Marina Restaurant 250.598.8555 I would take a trip to northern Europe, to explore some roots in Scandinavia. After all, you can never have enough lutefisk and aquavit! It seems like all coastal people have, out of necessity, some sort of dried or preserved fish, and the coast we currently live on is no different. Zoe O'Doherty I would love to go to Japan. The Japanese take food very seriously, and their culinary traditions and techniques are quite different from the European methods most of us learn in cooking school. The aesthetic side of Japanese food is also very appealing. I’m amazed by how many distinct styles of cuisine exist in one relatively small country. Ben Peterson Heron Rock Bistro 250.383.1545 Montreal. I Have been dreaming about it for years and am very anxious to experience all the recommendations for myself. Oh yeah … and Havanna as well! Trish Dixon Breakers Deli 250.725.2558 I'm not sure a month would be enough time, but Italy is my first choice for sure. The basic simplicity of the foods, the farms and hereditary techniques still used today appeal to me. Italy is about everything fresh and homegrown, minimalist with big flavour. What I love most about Italy is the feeling that every meal is prepared with numerous family members and enjoyed by all friends. Large meals with everyone sitting around together enjoying! Oh... also the wine! Alberto Pozzolo Italian Bakery 250-388-4557 As strange as it may sound I would like to explore the cuisine of Romania. This old Italian territory would likely reveal clues on ancient Roman dishes as well as influences from the Far and Middle East. It is not a region much discussed and I find this appealing from a learning perspective. Cory Pelan La Piola 250.388.4517 Oaxaca. For the sheer diversity of the regional cuisine and the immense complexity of the flavours. For the chocolate, the mole, the art, the mezcal, the people and the sun. Maybe next winter. Mara Jernigan Fairburn Farm 250.746.4637 If I had a month and no financial constraints I would go to Japan. I have never been there, but I know food is such an important and highly ritualized part of Japanese culture, it is a place I'd like to have a big budget to explore. From the street food, to Kaiseki to visiting farms, I'd like to have an English speaking Japanese guide and do it all! I am just afraid a month would not be enough! However, on the other hand, if someone wanted to explore the culture and cuisine in Italy, they should go to Slow Food's Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto 2010 and then come on one of my culinary tours in Italy this fall! Garrett Schack Vista 18 250.382.9258 I would spend time in the great white north. I believe the art of bannock making and whale butchery is one that could be lost if someone doesn't take the time to submerge themselves in the cultures and rituals of our hidden northern treasure. I can just imagine cooking arctic cod over a lamp fueled by seal blubber (only after one days march from the fishing site of course) while the northern lights illuminate the sky. For now at least I must succum to my usual diet of Qallunaat food until I can pursue my true calling as a northern explorer. Dare to dream!

Chefs News Brad Horen and Patrick Gayler of Laurel Point Inn have earned spots on Culinary Team Canada. Horen will captain the team at the 2011 World Cup in Luxembourg and the 2012 World Culinary Olympics in Germany. The 2010 Canadian Chefs Congress will take place at Providence Farm near Duncan in the Cowichan Valley September 11 & 12. See page 5 of this issue for more information and to delegate registration information. MARCH | APRIL 2010



— by Kathryn Kusyszyn


ALM Organic Farm has the the bar high for Vancouver Island farmers

—Sheila Wincup



The tasty

Mary Alice and assistant Engage anyone on Southern Vancouver Island in conversation about organic farming and fairly soon the name Mary Alice Johnson comes up. Whether on the farm, in the classroom or in the community, Mary Alice is known for inspiring people to grow food. Her philosophy: Why put poison on your food when there’s no need? Raised on a self-sufficiency farm with a cow, pigs and chickens, Mary Alice took good food for granted. Her father hunted while her mother hung chickens on the clothesline and slaughtered them for Sunday dinner. She loved gardening as a child and that love continued into adulthood. In 1986, she and her husband, Jan, bought farmland just west of the town of Sooke. The house was falling down and the land so covered in broom it took three years to clear, but after the first season of farming she was hooked. Sitting in the autumn sun shelling scarlet runner beans she decided she wanted to farm full-time regardless of the income. Twenty years later, ALM Organic Farm supplies restaurants, a box program, two markets plus a seed company. Produce includes fruit, heritage vegetables, eggs, grains, herbs, seeds and pigs. Community support for the produce is strong: the box program has a waiting list and seed sales grow by 30 percent each year. These successes belie the wage earned for the long hours put in by Mary Alice, her business partner Marika Nagasaka, plus apprentices and volunteers. However, the benefits of fresh organic food and quality of life are priceless and have inspired Mary Alice’s devotion to encouraging new farmers. Seventeen years running, her two courses on organic farming at Camosun College, cotaught with Haliburton Community Farm manager Tina Fraser Baynes, are hugely popular. Some classes take place at ALM Farm as do the continuing education courses Mary Alice and her partners lead. She also runs a national farm apprenticeship program called Stewards of Irreplaceable Lands (S.O.I.L.). This year, S.O.I.L. received 200 applications and 90 farms are participating. Another project is the 15-year-old Linking Land and Future Farmers. Currently it’s transforming into a web-based resource for new farmers. And as president of the Sooke Region Food CHI Society, Mary Alice spearheads the Farm Mentorship Program (among others). In her words, she is “really good at getting people involved.” Working directly on the policy front, she sits on the Juan de Fuca Economic Development Commission and Juan de Fuca Agricultural Commission. While the JDF Agricultural Area Plan is stalled until funds appear, Mary Alice focuses elsewhere. Her presentations at the split tax assessment hearings, by request of MLA Lana Popham, contributed to some beneficial changes. And last year, ALM Farm hosted a walkabout with local politicians to illustrate how regulations need altering to promote rather than restrict food production. These politicians are now supporting farming in new ways and one councillor has become a boxprogram participant. This shift is a reflection of the growing numbers of people who want quality local food and are making the effort to provide it. “There’s a real spark in Sooke, but we have a long way to go,” she says, citing research by Dr. Aleck Ostry of UBC that shows Sooke is at the bottom of the list for food security on the Island. When we spoke, she was excited about Sooke’s first “Seedy Saturday” (which took place February 27). Seeds and seedlings were available and Mary Alice planned to do what she does best: inspire people to grow food. With all the educational and community activities, when is there time to farm? “I love it,” she laughs. “Someone recently said, ‘Everyone needs a farmer.’ I agree, and I’m happy to be one.” ALM Organic Farm, 3680 Otter Point Road, Sooke, BC



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— by Rebecca Baugniet

The tasty art of fresh pasta (and sauce) making at La Piola.

“It’s a bit like a marriage,” Cory Pelan explains as he gently pushes his 30-year-old pasta maker into place. “I try to listen to what it’s telling me … sometimes I ignore it …” Chuckles go around the crowd watching the chef and owner of Victoria’s La Piola interact with his Italian-made Bottene Marano pasta machine. Thanks to this event, organized by Slow Food in partnership with La Piola, Untamed Feast and The Tuscan Kitchen, a group of keen students have the privilege of stepping into Pelan’s kitchen to learn how to make fresh pasta and sauce from a pro. Carefully removing the parts to explain how the machine works, he caresses the brass dies for making different pasta shapes, describing the softness of the metal and remembering a former employee who dropped the spaghetti die, denting it so badly it had to be reChef Cory Pelan plates his pasta dish paired before it could be used again. “He bought me a beer that night,” he tells us with a smile. Pelan demonstrates the simplicity of the machine, with few parts and only two settings; one to mix and one to extrude. This prompts another memory: a separate incident where a staff member had it on the wrong setting when he was supposed to be mixing. The flour shot out the front of the machine, and the intense pressure from the extruder resulted in a hard, glass-like substance that took half an hour to hammer out of the shaft. It is obvious that these two have a strong history. It’s no wonder then that the resulting pasta tastes so good. Extraordinarily good. We’ve watched as the chef mixed his flours (a blend of semolina, bread and pastry flours) with fresh eggs and then peeked in to check the texture. And of course, listening to his machine, he added a little water to the dough. He paused to elucidate the importance of finding a happy medium between a dough that is too dry, resulting in a brittle pasta, and a dough that is too wet, resulting in a pasta that has no texture and won’t hold the sauce. The right consistency should have clumps roughly the size of hazelnuts, he instructs us. When the spaghetti begins to come out of the machine, we see that he’s nailed it. The strands show evidence of having the grain pulled back slightly as it made its exit, producing the texture that is crucial for the pasta to absorb the sauce. And we want it to absorb the sauce—a thick pomodoro that Pelan has taught us how to make, offering little nuggets of experience (“oregano: if you think you’ve got enough, add more”) as he explained the method. As with the pasta, the key to the sauce is simplicity. A few quality ingredients; extra virgin olive oil, garlic, onion, whole plum tomatoes, bay leaves and herbs, attentively prepared, will achieve the best results. Once the sauce reaches the point where it needs to sit and simmer, the pot is magically replaced with one that was started earlier in the day. We admire the result of three to four hours simmering: the sauce has thickened significantly and achieved a deepened colour. Now it’s Eric Whitehead’s turn to teach. The owner of Untamed Feast Wild Mushroom Products is here to show us how to make his favourite sauce showcasing his dried morels. Alberto Pizzolo, owner of the Italian Bakery, which is right next door, is on hand as well. He reminisces about a foraging adventure he accompanied Whitehead on last year, stressing how important it is for him to know where the ingredients he is using come from, and how they are harvested. Whitehead concocts a creamy, woodsy sauce (check the recipe box at for this recipe) before our eyes, and our stomachs begin to rumble. This is when Pelan serves up a first sample of spaghetti al pomodoro with generous servings of freshly grated Parmesan on top. The kitchen falls silent, with the exception of some audible groans of delight. It is time to move into the dining room for another demo, this one from Mauro Schelini, who, with his wife, Gerri, owns the Tuscan Kitchen. Their beautiful shop brings majolica, fine tableware, linens and specialty food items to downtown Victoria. Schelini is here to tell us about home pasta makers, as well as tortellini molds and special rolling pins for attaining the required thickness of various pastas. He shows us the Imperia model he uses in his own kitchen, and people take turns rolling out sheets of lasagna or fettuccini. I sneak back to the kitchen to try the spaghetti with morel sauce and overhear a woman requesting that Cory Pelan sell her the remaining unused fresh pasta sitting by his machine. Someone else is commenting that “it will be hard to go back to dried pasta after today.” I think to myself that Slow Food has done it again: another winning event, a few new recipes and a fresh batch of converts. Ristorante La Piola, 3189 Quadra Street, Victoria, BC

1 0 0 % O R G A N I C | FA I R T R A D E | L O C A L LY OW N E D & O P E R AT E D

Tea Artistry Silk Road Teas are created and blended in Victoria. Tea can be rich and pungent or delicate and subtle. The Silk Road art of tea blending ensures that the character of the plant retains its essential harmony and is enhanced by the ingredients with which it is paired. Select botanicals from around the world, as well as the West Coast, are carefully cured and prepared to yield a superb tea experience. 1624 Government St. Victoria Chinatown MARCH | APRIL 2010




Crêpe with ham, mushrooms and sauce Mornay


Chef de Cuisine Matt Thompson

Bistro Cache | 7120 West Saanich Road, Brentwood Bay | 652-5044


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Victoria weekend brunches and lunches generally require a modicum of lining up or premeditated reservations. What a delight to spend the same amount of time I would have spent standing, legs on a slow and steady numb, driving and drinking in the pastoral scenery of Brentwood Bay to explore Bistro Caché. Not so “hidden”, Bistro Caché is nestled in the heart of Brentwood Bay’s main junction. Inside, popular French singer Serge Gainsbourg crooned as we perused the quiet restaurant and ordered glasses of wine, setting the stage for a long, relaxing lunch. The space is wonderful. Large rustic paintings and an upstairs loft give the room spaciousness beyond its size and I felt like I was in a small welcoming country house, not part of a building. The patio would be ideal for a large lunch or dinner celebration, and the grassy lot behind reinforces that you are not in the city, you are dining in the country. Bistro Caché aptly bills itself as “Classically Inspired BC Cuisine”, which I’m tempted to edit to French/Vancouver Island Cuisine because of the menu’s pride in including a thoughtful sidebar listing the local growers and suppliers. For starters we chose the warm sunchoke salad (with bacon, shallots, tomato puree, thyme and salad greens) and the bistro frites (with parsley, shallots, truffle oil and pecorino cheese). The tomato in the salad was strong which tended to reduce subtlety in the salad, both visually and taste-wise, but the earthiness and crunch of the sunchokes still managed to stand-up to the tomato. The frites, made from bintje potatoes from nearby Springcrest Farm, were hot, delicious and crispy—everything you might hope for in a bistro frite. After going back and forth we settled on the Crêpe with ham, mushrooms and sauce Mornay (with cheese) and relaxed a little deeper into the slow-paced afternoon. The exquisite crêpe dish showed deft the hand in the kitchen making this delicate, featherweight class of pancake dishes from the Brittany region of France a very satisfying lunch. On another date our editor returned for dinner. At dinner, the room becomes more intimate with lit votive candles and soft, romantic music—all conducive to the restaurant’s leitmotif, which seems to be relax, savour and linger. We start with a bottle of Phillips Slipstream Cream Ale and a glass of Lillet, an aperitif meant to stimulate the appetite. To encourage diners to linger over their pre-prandial drinks, Caché offers a menu of hors d’oeuvre (think French tapas) of little dishes like wild chanterelles mushrooms, pickled eggplant, escargot, sautéed chard, olives or sausage. The olive selection was varied and of high quality and the wilted chard an appreciated touch of fresh green. Skipping the appetizer course we went straight to the mains and ordered the Bratwürst and the Steak Frites. The solo sausage came with a rösti potato pancake that was lacking a little in crispness and a half cup of tangy sauerkraut and a bit of Dijon - the ideal foil for a rich pork dish. The bratwürst was fresh, fine-grained and had been lightened by the addition of bread crumbs. The dish was enjoyed for being toothsome and satisfying and not overly heavy. My flat iron steak arrived cooked medium rare as ordered, sliced and piled on top of a biggish pile of the aforementioned bistro frites. Expecting a piece of beef with plenty of chew I was pleasantly surprised to find it tender yet still full of flavour. Although I love salt dearly the steak was a touch over-seasoned. Happy, I chomped through one of my favourite go-too comfort foods and I would have it again. Dessert was a blackboard special of Bananas Foster. Due for a comeback, this retro classic didn’t disappoint and was a turbo-charged confection of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, rum, vanilla ice cream and of course, sliced bananas. Did I mention butter? After dinner I waddled out to the car and drove home to a deep sleep of sugar plum fairies dancing in my head.

Rebecca Wellmam

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Al-Sultan Restaurant | 1813 Douglas St, | 250.590.4044

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Anyone I know who’s lived in Montreal shares a craving beyond bagels: shawarma. This Middle Eastern sandwich is ubiquitous in Montreal, yet a rarer find here. Al-Sultan Restaurant meets my shawarma need. The shaved beef is seasoned with a symphony of spices, including cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, and ginger. It is then stuffed into a soft pita along with garlicky tahini sauce, lettuce, pickles, onion, and tomato. In a great shawarma, the sauce and tomato juice ooze out onto your hand and cheek: this one meets the criterion. At $6.99, it’s probably one of the main reasons this restaurant has become the hangout for international students from the Arab nations. It definitely has a student vibe, which is a nice way of saying barren décor, but hey, who cares if you’re just grabbing a shawarma. Other noteworthy dishes on the menu are the lentil soup, which is rich and creamy with a hint of lemon, and, for sheer volume, the beef kebab platter that can Amanda at Al-Sultan feed two, since it consists of three 8-inch kebabs, a with a shawarma mound of rice, and a large side of hummus. That all comes to $14.99. The desserts are reasonably priced at $3.49. One that was new to me was the Basbousa, which is a mixture of semolina, coconut, and almonds covered in syrup, reminiscent of a macaroon. At Al-Sultan, your greeting will be warm and the service helpful.

Ocean Island Café Lounge, 791 Pandora Ave, | 250.385.1784

And now for rock bottom prices. The Ocean Island Café Lounge at the backpackers’ inn by the same name has a tiny little café tucked in on the main floor. The menu is simple: salads are $2.75 or $5.75, sandwiches and burgers are $5.75, and items under the heading “International Favourites” are $5.75. After 10 pm, most of these items are a dollar less, so now we’re looking at under $5. I tried a few items, and will advise you where to focus your attention. I was very pleasantly surprised by the Grilled Chicken Panini. I say surprised because a panini is one of those things that everyone thinks they can do when it actually requires skill. I’ve had plenty of disappointing paninis that are not warm in the middle or have a poor ratio of bread to stuffing. But voila! This Panini is big, fat, hearty, and basic, but the fillings are all warm and the sundried tomato pesto properly accents the chicken and cheese. There’s even a generous side of a simple salad to make it all a balanced meal. The dressing is probably Kraft, but remember, we’re looking at a hearty meal here for under $6, and under $5 late at night. Under “International Favourites,” I’d target the Moroccan Stew with Couscous, which has chunks of sweet potato, carrots, and zucchini along with chick peas. They could pull back on the cinnamon a bit, but it’s overall decent. And the Southwest Chili impressed me because given the price point, I expected a big reliance on cheap red kidney beans, but it was in fact full of beef with just a few beans. It was your basic potluck fare at a fair price. Now, what you’ll get along with rock bottom is raucous. This is a hostel, so you’re sitting on bar stools or rickety chairs, there’s loud music in the background, and young travelers having animated, multilingual conversations. Of course! That’s what it’s supposed to be, but you need to know that this is a place to grab a cheap sandwich, not to propose to your loved one. It’s also a place to bring your kid for lunch between downtown errands, because you won’t spend a lot of money, and the staff are happy to cut stuff up and bring an extra plate.

fresh flavours, casual comfort, genuine service

early bird dinner specials 5pm - 6pm Monday to Friday $15.95 Monday - Oceanwise ‘Catch of the Day’ Tuesday - Cowichan Valley Chicken Wednesday - Flat Iron Steak Thursday - Curry of the Day Friday - Chef’s Choice

For reservations: 250.655.9700 • MARCH | APRIL 2010



—by Katie Zdybel

Replete Retreat The garden is the heart of Hollyhock, and eating its bounty is a nurturing experience for all those who make the journey.

Katie Zdybel

The kitchen at Hollyhock: nature is just outside


Chef’s hef’s Choice The Sticky Wicket Featuring a three course menu every night $20

For your dining pleasure, we serve only &HUWL¿HG $QJXV %HHI Š


The Sticky Wicket & The Clubhouse at The Strathcona a Hotel 919 Douglas Street eet V Victoria ictoria BC 250.383.7137 7137 www www a



hough I have travelled, and sometimes lived, in such far-flung and aesthetically blessed places as California, Paris, the Yukon, Tuscany and Costa Rica, I was not prepared for the wild and stunning beauty of Cortes Island. By the time I’d made my way from Victoria to Campbell River, Campbell River to Quadra Island, and Quadra to Cortes, I felt as though I had traversed into a completely different nation, even a different time. The island, smelling of cedar, salt and a pure, unadulterated lack of pollution, gave the immediate impression of being one sprawling, uninhibited garden. Every inch of Cortes seems to be covered in greens, pinks, oranges and bursts of yellow with the piercing peacock blue of the ocean always in sight. The abundant greenery both towers above you, in the form of giant Douglas firs, and below you in the shape of prehistoric-looking ferns. There is a moment, when one leaves the normalized city scenes of box stores, traffic, skyscrapers and rows of houses behind, when I think even the most dedicated urbanophile looks around at a wild place and becomes, quite naturally, a bit more human. Then a remarkable thing happens all on its own; we relax. Hollyhock, a 27-year-old resort and education centre on a southern crest of Cortes, encapsulates some of the island’s most extraordinary features. Perched on a hill overlooking the ocean, the old farmhouse-now-lodge is wrapped with a cedar porch for sitting, dining and digesting. Walk through the breezy, sunlight-flooded, hardwood-floored interior straight through to the back and there lies the famous one-acre garden. It’s the kind of garden that stops you in your tracks. Designed to show off its contrasting colours and shapes in a range of layers, it eschews—for the most part— traditional rows for spirals, curves, twists and turns. Designed around a centuries-old apple tree that was a part of the original homestead, the garden has so many varieties of flowers and vines, herbs, vegetables, fruits and grasses, you could spend a day just learning their names. In case that’s what you crave, wooden chairs are tucked in here and there so that you can sit and study or maybe just nap next to the irises or under the rose trellis. The garden, it is clear, is the heart of Hollyhock. It’s here the original founders came up with the resort’s name after the giant red blossoms, and it’s here the longest-serving employee still plucks and weeds, plants and harvests, coaxes seedlings, guides students and WWOOFers and, with utmost respect, works with the soil and the weather to grow what becomes some of the best produce I’ve ever tasted. Nori Fletcher, head gardener, has been gardening at Hollyhock for 27 years. “We aim to make the most of the space,” she says looking over the abundant acre. It is a slight understatement. For farming aficionados, the Hollyhock garden is grown in the French

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intensive style, with the use of some biodynamic rules. And it is, of course, completely organic and always has been. Trailing Nori around the garden as she describes past seasons—the “great black slug invasion,” or the year the raspberries got a virus—it becomes clear how hands-on her style of gardening is. There are no shortcut chemicals, gadgets or machinery. When the garden was infested with slugs, she and her assistants picked them out every day by hand, filling jugs at a time. This kind of gardening is hard work, but with the view of the ocean, the hushing sound of the towering trees all around, soft music and light chatter from the lodge drifting out, it also gives the impression of being quite nurturing work. “The mission from the beginning has been to nourish people with the environment, the food and the programs,” marketing manager Greg Osoba tells me. “That has never changed.” He would know; next to Nori, he is the longest-term employee, rounding out his 20 years with a variety of position changes from housekeeper, kitchen help and now marketing manager. I have my first taste of the food at dinnertime. But first of all, before you even get to the dining room, you’re asked to leave your shoes behind at the front deck. Padding across the wooden floors instantly takes me back to summer cottage memories. Is it even possible to hurry through a meal when you’re barefoot and outdoors? I join the line around the dining table where the plates and silverware are stacked neatly beside a big-bellied Buddha statue. Hollyhock serves its meals communal-style: a spread of wide platters and deep bowls are filled with herbed salmon, greens picked moments ago, housemade dressings, potato salad speckled with garden herbs, hot-out-of-the-oven biscuits beside a deep dish of organic butter and heaps more vegetables. I shuffle around the table with the other guests, appreciating the rose blossoms artfully scattered here and there, then having filled my plate find a table on the back deck with a wide view of the ocean as far as the eye can see. To say their food is nourishing is only the beginning. The herb-encrusted salmon tastes vitally fresh and the texture reveals that it has been perfectly baked. The herbs too are potent and clearly straight from the garden. The biscuits are some of the best I’ve ever tried, that perfect texture of crumbly, warm and moist all at once. Even the butter tastes exceptionally sweet and creamy, and the fresh greens would have been just as delicious undressed, humming as they do with a summery verdant crispness. For dessert—lest you think you may be eating too healthily—is a chubby little dark chocolate cupcake collapsing under the weight of a generous spread of chocolate cream cheese icing and asterisked whimsically with a tiny violet flower. They’re buttery, moist, just sweet enough, and quite pretty. This first meal sets the tone for all the others I enjoy at Hollyhock. Consistently when I sit down to eat, at least one thing at every meal completely arrests me and I find myself wondering what are these flavours, how does this taste so good, what exactly am I eating. When I sit down with food and beverage manager Rebeka Carpenter, she tells me the menus are a team effort and part of what makes the food here so extraordinary is the creative collaboration that goes on in the kitchen and the garden. What doesn’t come from their own garden, the cooks source from other parts of Cortes. A growers’ co-op and farmers’ market supplies some of the vegetables that grow less well in Hollyhock’s backyard. “We are almost a self-sustaining island,” one employee tells me. “The idea of supporting local is very strong here.” On the ferry ride over from Quadra, a fellow passenger who farms on Cortes told me that the local food co-op is fundraising to buy a travelling kitchen for butchering meat and washing and processing produce, so that more Cortes farmers and gardeners can sell their goods commercially. He rattles off the names of some farms and gardens I should visit if I have the time and tells me that I could spend a couple months just visiting the different farms and producers around the island. Hollyhock, though it is only one small part of the island, is an amazing way to experience Cortes. It has been designed around the idea that the nature it is seated upon is its finest attribute. The guest cottages, activity and bodywork cabins, the lodge itself and yoga studio are nestled into the trees and connected by footpaths. Care has been taken not to cut down too many trees. There’s no vast golf course, no paved-over patios, no massive swimming pools, no distracting televisions. It is simple, but comfortable—even luxurious feeling in spots (such as the two hot tubs perched at the top of the hill overlooking the ocean, perfect for watching the moon rise). But the self-indulgence is never at the cost of the environment. Small reminders everywhere encourage guests to help them save on energy, cut down on waste by composting scraps, turning a light off behind them, reusing their towels. The experience has all the simplicity of being a guest at a good friend’s cottage with the added luxury of having every meal expertly prepared and exquisitely fresh. When people speak of the raw and stunning beauty of British Columbia, of the incredible variety and quality of food that grows here, and the laid-back lifestyle that often accompanies it, this is exactly what they mean. Hollyhock is a quintessential B.C. experience and should be enjoyed by travellers and natives alike. Hollyhock, Manson's Landing, Cortes Island, B.C., (800) 933-6339 or (250) 935-6576,

TAL K,, cco-hosted byy TAB T ABLE T ALK o-hosteed b Plenty P lenty & TTerralicious erralicious Join us Join us tthe he first first Wednesday Wednesday of of eeach ach m month onth ttoo ssample ample great great food, food, preparation and sshare h a re p reparation a nd ggrowing rowing ttips, ips, and and discuss discuss sshort hort readings re a d i n g s a bout food food and and ssustainability. ustainability. about F or o r m ore o r e inform i n f o r m aatt iion o n aand nd to RSVP R S V P p llease e a s e vvisit isit: www.te ou w w w . t e rrral r a l i ccii o u .ca ww.epi ww w . e p i ccu u rree aanpantr n p a n t r .ca organic o r g a n i c · ffair a i r ttrade r a d e · eethnic t h n i c · aartisan r t i s a n · llocal ocal w w w. e p i c u r e a n p a n t r y. c a 1034 1 0 3 4 Fort F o r t Street S t r e e t | 250·380·7654 2 5 0 · 3 8 0 · 7 6 5 4 |

Serving You Is Our Pleasure.... All Year Through! Quality meats, Poultry, Cheeses, Specialty Products & Condiments

2577 Cadboro Bay Road,VICTORIA

592-0823 MARCH | APRIL 2010




Grille ã|à{ Mi

From smokin’ sweet to hell-fire and damnation, chilies heat up the kitchen.



Michael Tourigny


Local lamb and serving Tracey Kusiewicz

atch, New Mexico, is a dry and dusty little pueblo housing four banks, a tavern and a smattering of retailers and restaurants. This mostly Hispanic town, and in particular the surrounding fertile valley, garners big kudos as the site of the world’s biggest chili crop and some of the world’s best chilies. Most famous is the green chili, the star of the Hatch Chile Festival, which draws thousands of visitors every Labour Day. I have been one of the throng and found that green chilies were indeed a sweet revelation. Once roasted and blistered, they are chopped or mashed into salsa, cheese-stuffed, battered and fried into chile rellenos or simply rolled up in a fresh tortilla. But I also cottoned on to the chili powders. My dwindling array of Hatch fine grinds range in shades of burnt marmalade through to oxide and brick red. Although faded somewhat with transit and time, they are still vibrant. Each expresses a different degree of pungency and nuance of flavour. Some powders are smokin’ sweet. A few are nutty and mellow. Most are hell-fire and damnation. A dash of each, in equal measure (OK, a tad more of hell-fire) tossed into a pot of chili, ramped up by roasted cumin seed, a bit of cinnamon and fresh oregano delivers a profoundly rich, spicy, mellow dish. The heat builds up on your palate in an oddly pleasant sensation, rather than punching you in the face. No plastic-bottled chili can match the Hatch. Added to my stash of Hatch Chili powders are large California peppers, dried and/or smoked to a glossy or “suede” leather finish. A couple of chilies change their names when dried. Jalapeño becomes chipotle (pronounced chee-pot-lay, not chee-po-tell). Poblanos go by ancho or, incorrectly, pasilla, which in fact is dried Mexican chilaca chili. (Chipotle peppers tinned in a piquant tomato and vinegar adobo sauce are usually available in most good super markets.) All peppers belong to the Solanaceae family, which includes tomatoes, tobacco and potatoes. The pepper clan is prolific, producing hundreds of varieties. Most hot chili peppers lay claim to the genus Capsicum, and capsaicin is the compound that causes chilies to “burn.” (Jalapeños, Anaheims and the Hatch green chilies, though, are part of the milder “annum” family.) Etymologists lock heads as to whether “capsicum” draws from the Latin “capsa,” meaning box because the seeds are enclosed in the fruit, or the Greek word “kepto,” meaning “to bite” due to heat. As for chili’s various spellings, Canadians tend to use “chili” for all forms, while Americans refer to “chile” as the fruit and “chili” as the stew or powder. The Brits double up on the “l” and change the “e” to an “i.” Chili hounds agree at least on the plant’s history. Cultivation hearkens back to around 2500 BC in South America. Various sources document wild chilies bobbing about Mexico as far back as 7000 BC. Centuries later Columbus brought the capsicum to Europe. It took off like wild fire especially in the Mediterranean and Balkan countries. Today we have smoked Spanish and Hungarian sweet/hot paprika (also in my cupboard), spicy Italian and chorizo sausages, and pasta spiked with red chilies and fresh basil for penne “arrabiata” (the word means angry). And I’ve read the Turks perk up their plates of seafood and steak with medium-powered Urfa and Maraş peppers. Meanwhile back in Hatch, folks could probably care less about chili’s peripatetic nature, regional spellings or a how a poblano becomes an ancho. They, and every person within 150 miles, are too damn busy dousing pure chili flavour on huevos rancheros, tacos, enchiladas and grilled meats. Homemade fiery red sauce and its gentler green cousin are culinary pillars of the community. (Google “red and/or green chili/chile sauce” for excellent recipes.) Since visiting New Mexico I’ve shunned commercial chili powder. Now, with my coveted stash nearly depleted and my crystal ball indicating no immediate return to Hatch, it’s high time I went about concocting my own rich coppery red chili powder—with all of the hot stuff and none of the MSG, flour and other additives found in many commercial powders. I load up on fine quality dried whole chilies when and where I can find them. (Seattle’s Pike Place Market has the wonderful Mexican Grocery, and Toronto’s Kensington Market houses dried and fresh chilies.) And any time I’m near a flame I have to blister an Anaheim or two.

Chilis: chili de Arbol, jalepeno, poblano, pasilla, guajillo Dish: Poblano tacos with creamed corn (photographed at La Taqueria)

Homemade Chili Powder

Adapted from The Chile Pepper Book, Dille & Belsinger, Interweave Press, 1994.

Remove the stems and seeds from 6 chipotles and 6 dried Anaheims (if only fresh are available, split them, seed them and dry in a slow—200°F—oven for several hours) as well as 8 anchos or pasillas. (Dry fresh poblanos as you would the Anaheims if you can’t find the dried versions.) Break the chilies into sizable pieces and toast over low heat in a skillet until chilies start to just throw off their fragrance. Don’t let them darken or they will turn bitter. Remove chilies to a large plate and cool. Toast 6 tablespoons cumin seed, 6 tablespoons coriander seed and about 6 or 8 whole cloves as you would the chilies. Remove spices to a plate and cool. Grind the toasted chilies in small batches in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Do the same with the toasted spices, adding 6 tablespoons of dried oregano (Mexican if possible). Mix the chilies and spices together. Regrind in small batches until pulverized to a fine powder. To kick up the heat, add 3 tablespoons good quality paprika and 1 tablespoon cayenne. Seal tightly and store in a cool place. Use within 6 months for best flavour. Recipe can be halved—or divide the powder into little packets for great hostess gifts.

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Michael Tourigny


Grilled Tandoori Lamb Chops ã|à{ Mint Chutney

Local lamb is given an Indian-style taste by marinating it with tandoori paste and serving it with a refreshingly, spicy chutney. Tracey Kusiewicz

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Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 4 hours marinating time Cooking time: 6-8 minutes Makes: 4-6 servings For the lamb • 1/3 cup tandoori paste (see Note) • 1/3 cup yogurt • 12 lamb chops • Vegetable oil for the grill • Mint sprigs for garnish For the chutney • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, packed • 3 green onions, thinly • 1 small, fresh green serrano chili, seeds removed, flesh coarsely chopped • 1 garlic clove, minced • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil • 2 Tbsp water • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar • 1/2 tsp ground cumin • 1/2 tsp salt

Place the tandoori paste and yogurt in a 9- by 13-inch dish and mix to combine. Add the lamb and turn to coat. Cover, refrigerate and marinate the lamb for 4 hours, or overnight, turning occasionally. To make the chutney, place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed. When fully marinated, let the lamb warm at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat your grill to medium-high. Lightly oil the bars of the grill. Grill the lamb for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until medium to medium-rare in doneness. Cook the lamb longer, if you prefer it more well done. Give the chutney a stir and then serve with the lamb. Note: Tandoori paste is sold in the Asian foods aisle of most supermarkets.

Markus’ Wharfside Restaurant

Vancouver Island’s best kept secret (250) 642-3596 1831 Maple Ave. Sooke MARCH | APRIL 2010


local kitchen See Recipes on the following page.

Halibut with Bacon Dressing & Roasted Beets



Hazelnut Chews

fresh spring supper

Recipes and food styling by JENNIFER DANTER Photography by REBECCA WELLMAN

Hazelnut Chews

Jammy Rhubarb Compote MARCH | APRIL 2010


fresh spring supper

This time of year is such a tease! All those green shoots poking through the earth can’t grow fast enough to match our desire for the first fresh produce. This early spring dinner straddles the seasons – a few staples and flavours leftover from the colder months (think beets, bacon and comfort food cookies) mixed with a few spring harbingers: fresh caught halibut and ruby red rhubarb. Welcome Spring!

main course

6 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb 1/2 cup homemade strawberry or seedless raspberry jam 1/2 cup Babe’s honey 3/4 cup water

Halibut with Bacon Dressing & Roasted Beets

What to drink?


A full-bodied pinot gris from Alsace has the weight to stand up to the bacon. A red Graves, a lighter Bordeaux would also be an interesting match.

1. Place beets on a large piece of foil and drizzle with a little olive oil. Seal to form a package and place on a baking sheet. Roast in 375°F oven until tender, from 35 to 45 min., depending on size. You want them tender but not too soft. When cool enough to handle, slip off skins. Chop beets, then toss with horseradish and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover and keep in a warm spot. 2. Season fish with pinches of salt and pepper, if you wish. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium-high. When bubbly, add fish, skin-side up. Sear until golden, 2 to 3 min., then place, skin-side down, on a small baking sheet. Finish cooking in preheated 375°F oven until cooked through, 8 to 10 min. 3. Meanwhile, wipe out frying pan. Add bacon and fry until crispy. Remove bacon to a plate but leave 1 Tbsp fat in pan. Add shallot and reduce heat to medium. Cook until soft, 3 to 4 min, then add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 min. Pour in vinegar and scrape up any bits from pan bottom. Stir in honey and oil until well mixed, then remove from heat and stir in parsley. 4. To serve, place beets on plates and top with fish. Spoon dressing overtop.


Jammy Rhubarb Compote This is the time of year I start to use up my strawberry jam from last summer. It adds a rich colour plus well needed sweetness to very tart rhubarb. Great over spiced yogurt, crème fraiche, cheesecake or ice cream. Serves 4



In a saucepan, combine rhubarb with jam and honey. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer until rhubarb is as tender as you like, 8 to 10 minutes. Strain rhubarb and reserve liquid. Return liquid to pan and simmer, stirring often, until reduced to thick syrup. Pour over rhubarb. Spice It Up: Add a stick of cinnamon or a few pieces of star anise or pinches of fennel seeds.

Sweet ‘n Savoury Yogurt The almost mint-like tanginess of fresh thyme is a pleasant surprise here. Excellent with Jammy Rhubarb Compote. Serves 4 4 cups yogurt (full-fat) 3 Tbsp Babe’s honey 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 1. Place yogurt in a sieve and set over a bowl. Refrigerate overnight so most of the whey drains off and yogurt is quite thick. Stir in honey, thyme and cinnamon. Spoon into bowls and top with Jammy Rhubarb Compote.

Hazelnut Chews I love this cookie because it’s an easy stir-together dough – no need to haul out mixers and such. Plus it shows off the flecks of hazelnuts and I highly recommend popping in a few while they’re still slightly warm – that’s when they’re at their chewy best. Makes about 35-40 cookies. 3/4 cup ground hazelnuts 2/3 cup granulated sugar 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 cup butter, melted, cooled slightly 1 egg, lightly beaten 1/2 tsp vanilla 1 cup all-purpose flour Icing sugar

1. In a bowl, stir hazelnuts with sugar and salt. Stir in butter, egg and vanilla. Add flour and stir until well mixed. Dough will be very soft. Refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 min. 2. Roll into small balls (about 1 heaping tsp each), then space out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated 350F oven until bottoms are golden and tops are barely soft in centre, but cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes. Slightly under baked cookies stay chewier. 3. Cool completely, then dust with icing sugar. Layer in a baking tin and store in a cool dark place, up to 1 week or freeze up to 2 months. If freezing, dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Carol Ferguson

The sweet and salty flavours of the bacon dressing may seem a bit overpowering on it’s own, but when paired with meaty halibut, well, it’s divine! Especially if you use bacon from Choux Choux. A hint of horseradish with earthy beets adds a little kick too. 4 beets, trimmed and scrubbed Olive oil 1 tsp prepared horseradish 4 6-oz fillets fresh halibut (choose thick centre cuts) Knob of butter 3 thick strips bacon, chopped 1 shallot, minced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/4 cup Spinnaker’s Apple Cider Vinegar 1Tbsp babe’s honey 1/4 cup good quality olive oil 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or cilantro


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Carol Ferguson

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We stock more than 18,000 hard-to-find gourmet food items and culinary wanna haves. Utensils, pots, gadgets, unique bakeware and so much more.

l: Emad Yacoub at the Italian Kitchen, one of his many restaurants.

Victoria restaurateurs, watch out. Word is, Emad Yacoub is peering across the Salish Sea in your direction. Yacoub, for EATers unfamiliar with the Vancouver dining scene, is the whirlwind behind the city’s Glowbal Group. He employs 680 staff. He feeds 75,000 customers every month. His restaurants gross $32 million annually. At Yacoub’s restaurants, people eat awfully well for modest money, in smart designer surroundings, with excellent service and to raucous music that reaches skull-splitting intensities as evenings progress. Blessedly, the rooms are always packed and the din of satisfied customers defeats the speakers. Welcome to the classic immigrant success story: Yacoub was born and raised in Cairo. Arriving in Canada at age 19 with Arabic his only language, he began his professional life as a kitchen helper at Toronto’s Hilton Harbour Castle. A lightning study, he enrolled in the hotel’s two-year apprenticeship program, launching a career at the stoves that would include stints as chef de cuisine at the prestigious Chiaro’s in Toronto’s King Edward Hotel and executive chef at Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House in Vancouver. Eight years ago, he and wife Shannon Bosa—they met at Fortes, where she managed— opened the stylish Glowbal in Yaletown. They wooed and won over locals with truffled spaghetti and Kobe meatballs. Glowbal is recently reborn as a steakhouse with tartare as one of the steaks and chips fried, sublimely, in duck fat. But along the way, Yacoub opened five more restaurants: Sanafir, the most exotic-looking (think Egyptian temple for people addicted to martinis) eatery in Vancouver’s history; Coast, the fish and seafood emporium; Society for renovated comfort food under bubblegum-pink chandeliers; the Italian Kitchen—Vancouver Sun critic Mia Stainsby called it “one sexy seducer”—and the understated, affordable and addictive Kitsilano boite, Trattoria Italian Kitchen. Yacoub, a complex man, juggles roles with the instincts of a multiple personality. Meet Emad the chef, who leaps into the kitchen when it’s clear a cook hasn’t a clue about pizza. Meet Emad the tycoon who can not only tell you how much money the resto made this year, but how much it will make next year. Meet Emad the entrepreneur who revels in creating restaurants (jeepers, Chinese?). And Emad, the hands-on guy, seen on foot, in lousy weather, making the rounds from resto to resto with the gait of a dad putting his children to bed. Transience is the one thing that clearly frightens him. “I don’t want to be that guy that had six restaurants back in 2010,” he says. “We have to keep looking forward, keep innovating, keep growing with our clientele as they age and mature. Our challenge is always that of not becoming stale.” Facing a young demographic as he unveiled Society last October, he promoted the restaurant opening via Facebook and Twitter. On the big day, the line-ups materialized, eager to tuck into such new old faves as lobster shepherd’s pie and Kahlua milkshakes. And now Yacoub and his lieutenants are about to expand the Trattoria Italian Kitchen concept throughout Vancouver and environs, which will likely include Victoria.

Without question… the most exciting food store to explore! The Gourmet Warehouse, 1340 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC t: 604-253-3022 | hours M-Sat 10-6 Sun 10-5 MARCH | APRIL 2010


New Zealand will be one of the featured countries at this year’s Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival April 19 to 25.

the taste of NEW ZEALAND Nathan Fong says “kia ora” to New Zealand and returns with a wealth of Asian-inspired recipes.

Tracey Kusiewicz

THAI BEEF SALAD For more of Nathan Fong’s recipes from New Zealand visit


One popu southeast As booths, woo with mint, cila dressing. So Thai fish sau important fla starter entré


’ve always been told how similar B.C. and New Zealand can be. Perhaps this is true geographically, with their stunning valleys, dramatic mountains and rugged fjords. When it comes to food and ingredients, the country is what Tourism New Zealand says it is: 100 percent pure. The quality, freshness and sustainability of ingredients surpass much of what I’ve seen on various market adventures around the globe. Perhaps it’s because the country’s GNP relies mainly on food production from its extensive dairy industry, seafood and, of course, superb wines. Fishing last spring off New Zealand’s South Island in Queen Charlotte Sound, (yes, even some of the place names are the same), the fish were practically jumping on to the hooks. I was impressed with their catch-and-release policies, and during my all-too short visit, I found parallels with our B.C. food scene: the use of seasonal and regional produce from local farmers, the huge Asian influence on their cuisine such as local kingfish sashimi, Cantonese steamed New Zealand snapper, and the outstanding, tender wild puau (abalone). A rare treat considering we haven’t harvested these mollusks on our B.C. coastline for decades due to over-fishing. I was impressed by the Asian cuisine, from the high-styled fusion cuisines of local chef Peter Gordon at his restaurant in Auckland, to surprisingly good quality dim sum at the family-run Master Kong Restaurant in the charming rural town of Hamilton. It was refreshing to find this standard of Chinese cuisine in such an area, like finding decent Chinese food in our Prairies, which usually means sweet and sour and chicken chow mein! But it is southeast Asian cuisine that seems to be most popular, and these restaurants are more prevalent than their northern Asian counterparts. The first Maori settlers were followed by the white immigrants (British as well as Dalmations from modern-day Croatia), then the Chinese for the gold rush. Malaysians, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean and Indonesians have also followed the wave over the past few decades. Overall, their history is much like ours. A strong Maori influence is also seen in the food scene; regional and indigenous ingredients such as edible ferns and wild mushrooms make an appearance on menus. Research over the past 10 years has the Maoris migrating from mainland China to Taiwan, the Philippines, the Pacific islands and eventually New Zealand. I had a chance to experience a traditional Hangi, which seemed like a cross between our First Nations potlatch and a Hawaiian luau, where ritual and ceremony couple with traditional foods cooked in an underground pit. I have compiled some of the fresh, inspired dishes I enjoyed on my culinary journey, perfect for our cold weather! left Little Neck Clams with Nuoc Cham

John Sherlock

right Fresh Green Shell Marlborough Mussels Steamed with Thai Spices See recipe at



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THAI BEEF SALAD (Yam Neua) One popular Wellington spot I visited was Chow, which served an eclectic variety of southeast Asian cuisine. The second storey interior has a great Asian ambiance with its booths, wooden dividers and hanging lanterns. I had a superb Thai-style rare beef salad with mint, cilantro, bean sprouts and peanuts, tossed with a sweet-tart and spicy nahm prik dressing. So simple and fresh with its vibrant vinaigrette and aromatic greens. Pungent Thai fish sauce, which the Thais use the way soy is used in northern Asian cooking, is an important flavouring for the dressing. I’ve adapted this recipe from Chow. Serves 4 as a starter entrée.

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1 lb flank or sirloin steak 10 or more Thai red chilies, thinly sliced 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar 1/4 cup fish sauce 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 1 romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried and cut into bite-sized pieces 1 bunch fresh mint, leaves removed and stems discarded 1/2 English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into thin moons 2 to 3 shallots or 1 small red onion, thinly sliced 1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped 2 cups bean sprouts 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped Season steak with salt and freshly ground pepper. Grill or broil the steak until mediumrare. Remove from grill and allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice thin, into pieces about 2 inches across and 1/8 inch thick. Mix garlic, chilies, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar in a small bowl until sugar has dissolved. Add the sliced meat and toss with the cucumbers and shallots. Taste and add more fish sauce if desired. Toss lettuce, bean sprouts, mint and cilantro together and make a bed on a serving plate. Place the marinated beef mixture on top with the dressing and garnish with cilantro sprigs and chopped peanuts.

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Little Neck Clams with Nuoc Cham When visiting the beautiful city of Wellington (some call it the San Francisco of the South Pacific), I met famed chef, restaurateur, author and television personality Al Brown (of Wellington’s Logan-Brown), who brought me into his al fresco kitchen and made this simple, tasty Vietnamese-influenced dish as well as the superb abalone with salsa verde and beurre blanc (see below). He cooked in his wood-burning oven, which gave the food a mild smokiness that I loved. I was also impressed with what New Zealanders call crawfish. These are in fact their massive spiny lobsters, which have a large body and tail but no pinchers like our native species. These were served simply steamed tender and served with a delicate citrus beurre blanc … the Kiwis so love their butter! Serves 6. 6 dozen Little Neck clams (or substitute manilas) 2 cups chicken stock 1/3 cup nuoc cham (see recipe below) 1 to 2 Thai red chilies, fine diced (seeded optional) 1/2 Tbsp fine chopped garlic 2 1/2 Tbsp cold butter, in small pieces 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro Place the clams in a large saucepan followed by the chicken stock, nuoc cham, chilies and garlic. Cover and place over high heat bringing to a boil. Give the saucepan a quick shake to help open the clams and mix the ingredients around. As soon as clams are open, remove with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid and place in warm serving dishes. Place the saucepan back onto high heat and bring the liquid up to boiling point. Whisk in the butter and the cilantro; season to taste with more nuoc cham if desired. Spoon over clams and serve with warm baguettes. Nuoc Cham 1/3 cup sugar 3 Tbsp water 1/4 cup fish sauce 1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1 Thai red chili, finely chopped Whisk together sugar, water, 1 Tbsp finely chopped shallots fish sauce and lime juice until 1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic sugar has dissolved. Add in remaining ingredients; refrigerate until ready to use. MARCH | APRIL 2010


What’s happening in VANCOUVER ?

What’s happening in COMOX VALLEY ?

Chef Julio Gonzalez Perini has reinvented the raviolo at Lupo, (869 Hamilton Street, 604-569-2537 no website) the restaurant formerly known as Villa Del Lupo. And what a raviolo it is—spinach and ricotta stuffed, and how that perfectly poached golden yoked-free range egg gets tucked into that airy pasta packet? Answer. “Very carefully.� Hazelnut brown-butter sauce adds a final, and perfect, touch. Perini and sommelier Michael Mameli have revamped the space, modifying the “Villa’s� posh nosh for today’s palates and pocketbooks while keeping quality and quantity in tact. All Lupo antipastizi to share, clock in under $15. Primi are a generous small or large. Go for the small and split two or three dishes. (We love the braised pork cheeks with porcini “sugo�). Mains lean toward lamb shank ossobucco ($20) or Italian sausage with sauerkraut, and cannelini bean ragout ($19). Mameli’s well-priced taster/wine-by-glass selection allows you to pair the right wine with right dish. (The filling Ravioli and liberal sampler of Castello Banfi Gavi costs 16 bucks.) From my bay window seat looking into the cozy rooms, I could see that Lupo’s philosophy of “make good food�, treat people nice�, is working splendidly. Chef Jennifer Peters steps up to the plate as executive chef of Raincity Grill ( Can Peters continue to dish up the likes of a late-January media dinner? If so, the gal’s a keeper. Baynes Sound Scallop ceviche nearly dissolves on the tongue. Hazelnut-crusted salmon (from Bruce Swift’s sustainable farmed Coho) underscores further Peter’s knack with seafood. And did the bubbly chef's recent stints on Vancouver Island (Bear Mountain Resort and Malaspina College) influence the Island wines on the menu? Like much of Raincity’s ingredients Peter’s local roots hail well within a hundred miles. Look for Peters, on past episodes of the Food Network’s 100 Mile Diet ( Mean Mister Mustard. Did you know that the word “mustard� comes from the unfermented juice of grapes and other fruits called “must� which was added originally instead of vinegar?" asks Robert Remy in a tone that states rather than questions. The French entrepreneur who now makes his home in West Vancouver, spearheaded Vancouver Co. Mustard adds “We have three different MUSTARD blends (Original, Hot, and Old Style) produced for the Canadian market “They are all 100% natural�. Indeed the mustards strike a beautfiul balance between taste and tang. The hot mustard is a feisty number, perfect for a classic steak au poivre. You’ll find Vancouver Co. Mustard at Whole Foods Markets, Choices Markets, Stong’s Market, Oyama Sausage, on the Island at Markt Artisan Deli (in Nanaimo) and other fine BC food emporiums. Log onto for more info. Email for classic the classic French steak recipe. —by Julie Pegg

The winter has seen many changes in the rich foodie scene in the greater Comox Valley. Several restaurants closed. Among them The Pier and Anderton Bistro in Comox, and The Great Escape in Cumberland. Chef Andrew Stigant was doing great things at the Leeward-cumAnderton Bistro. I look forward to visiting his new venue, Crown Isle's Silverado Steakhouse [399 Clubhouse Drive, Courtenay 250-703-5050]. As well as closures we've seen openings and big splashes. One of the hottest new properties in the region has to be The Mad Chef CafÊ in the former Orbitz Pizza location [492 Fitzgerald Avenue (250) 871-7622]. They’re very active on Facebook. Comox Valley Bakehouse [] is making waves with 17 different types of bread, Montreal-style bagels, and pastries. They do wholesale, retail, and to-your-door deliveries. Yowzah! Chef Ronald St-Pierre of Locals [364-8th Street 250.338.6493,] is both a champion of local food, an amazing restauranteur – and a singer of others' praises. He told us that Aladin's House of Tandoori [275 8th Street 250-871-8552] serves "tasty, fresh, and well priced" food with fun and "funky decor." Another source raved about the East African kuku paka (coconut chicken). Fluid [1175-Cliffe Ave 250-338-1500] can be loud and "youthful" for these ears. Our crew dropped in on a quiet (sound-wise) night mid-week and had a great time and great food. I liked that the bartender made the Savoy cocktail (a signature drink from Avenue Bistro) the way I like it, and the late night, mid-week service. Readers of the last issue of EAT ( | @eatmagazine) will be aware of how much local chefs appreciate Saigon Noodle House [in the strip mall with White Spot and Joey's Fish & Chips] for its prices and flavours. Hana Korean Restaurant [526 Cliffe Avenue 250-334-0868], opened on the corner of Cliffe and 5th. One of my fave foodies Anh raves about it, "eat in or take out." A very different kind of food experience is available on that corner at Rose's Tea Room. A friend tells me that proprietor "Minnie is a lovely person and a great cook. She's created a relaxing place to go for lunch or tea with a friend." As for Anh, she (and my foodie/dance/soul pal Rachel) rave about dim sum at Comox's Bamboo Inn [2040 Comox Avenue 250-339-3500]. Anh's also a fan of the Chicken Udon noodle soup at Yamato Restaurant [597 Cliffe Avenue 250-334-202]. Another foodie "loves" Zizi's CafÊ [441B Cliffe Avenue 250-334-1661]. I’m a fan of their Turkish coffee and baclava. Just around the corner sits Brambles Market, where James and Angelina Street are doing great local food stuff and foodie education via their Facebook and Twitter presence [244A 4th Street (250) 334-8163 | @bramblesmarket]. Very cool. Tita’s Mexican Restaurant [536-6th Street, Courtenay 250-334-8033] is turning 20 (!!) this spring. Wow. Great food and service, always. A regular stop for me and my kids. My neighbour, Bethany Pierce, has gone public: "I'm very picky... and was SUPER IMPRESSED with a meal we just at the Union Street Grill" [477-5th Street, Courtenay 250-897-0081]. As for Atlas [250-6th Street, Courtenay 250-338-9838], I'm with Kim Barzilay who raves: "ALWAYS our first pick !!!!" (I'd tone it down with the exclamation marks, but the sentiments remain.) Which is why I like what happens at Atlas's sister restaurant in Comox, Avenue Bistro [2064 Comox Ave, 250-890-9200 | @avenuebistro]. I'm not alone. Another fan exclaimed about the "traditional eggs benny...mmmn,delicious." I recently enjoyed a French 55 cocktail (thanks Freddy - very good) and tuna tower before gorging on papardelle with ribs and beet ravioli... Martine’s Bistro [1754 Beaufort Ave, Comox (250) 339-1199] gives great atmosphere, service, and food. This spring chef

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Marcus Aartzen is featuring lamb and local Tannadice Farms pork. I thoroughly enjoyed an early-winter meal at Toscano's Trattoria [190 Port Augusta, Comox 250-890-7575]. I've always admired what they do at the Kingfisher Restaurant [4330 Island Highway 250-338-1323 and 800-663-7929]. Special events this spring include "Dining out for Life Fundraiser for AIDS" on March 25th and a Chef’s Table on April 15th. My pals at Tria Culinary Studio [4905 Darcy Road, Courtenay 250-338-9765 | @triaculinary] will be re-opening with a spring equinox dinner on March 20 and the first of their spring cooking classes beginning on March 21. On another note, Locals' Lia McCormick says she's "liking the whole grain muffins at Grains Bakery. They remind me of the Bar None muffins." Me, I miss the Bar None cinnamon rolls. I've never ever met their match. And finally, my apologies to Lia: In my last column I credited Jackie Connelly with all the photos in the recent North Island Chef Association cookbook, Island Inspirations. It turns out that while Jackie did some of the photo work, most of the images are Lia's. Island Inspirations is available at Courtenay's Beyond the Kitchen Door [274B 5th St, 250-338-4404]. —by Hans Peter Meyer

Report on the 2010 Halibut Season By Wes Erikson left: Wes Erikson is an active fourth generation commercial fisherman. Wes has been involved in the fisheries advisory process for over 20 years and has recently been a halibut representative on the Commercial Industry Caucus. Along with fishing Wes has owned operated and cooked in seafood restaurants for the last 16 years.

The opening period for 2010, for BC and all areas north is March 6 till November 15. This year we will see fresh halibut on the market 2 weeks earlier than last year. I spoke in favour of seeing a longer season as this allows us the opportunity to serve fresh halibut longer. This is the second year in the eighty-seven year history of the IPHC that a chef’s association (North Vancouver Island Chefs Association) has been represented. Last year, I had to explain our application to the Conference Board (made up of commercial fishermen, sports fishing organizations, community representatives, Tribal representatives, etc). I had to explain why our association should be given a seat and voting status. We now have a voice within the IPHC process as chefs. The next meeting is in January 2011 in Victoria and it would be great to send more representation next time and/or perhaps a cooking demonstration. We are the end user of the resource and can speak on behalf of the population that never catch a halibut but enjoy consuming this beautiful fish in the restaurants, cooking schools, and businesses we work in. For more information on the IPHC see


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Carrot on the Run grows in Nanaimo Alexandra Teare, the proprietor of Carrot on the Run, has seen both the City of Nanaimo and her business expand in recent years. Heading into its sixth year this two-fold deli and catering business is located adjacent to Island Natural Market and nearby Woodgrove Centre and is a great spot for lunch while in the North end of Namaimo. Walk in and check-out the huge blackboard menu that features many local products including local meats, Saltspring Island coffees, wild mushrooms and Island grown fruits and vegetables. In addition to sit down dining, the deli offers everything from picnic baskets to take-out dinnerâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;ranging from Vegetarian Alexandra Teare Lasagna ($5.95) to Transylvanian Goulash ($7.95). Desserts include flans, cheesecakes and pies as well as diet-friendly Razzberry Upside Down Cake for diabetics and wheat and dairyfree Double-layered Chocolate Cake. On the caterering side, 24 Carrot Catering specializes in social and business events, weddings, holiday feasts and parties. Carrot on the Run is open Monday to Friday from 7 am to 7 pm, Saturdays - 10 am to 6 pm and Sundays - 11 am to 5 pm. 6560 Metral Drive, Nanaimo, B.C., (250)390-0008, MARCH | APRIL 2010


Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s happening in NANAIMO ? Yahoo spring! There are little green shoots popping up in every corner of my garden. During the winter months, when my body craves warmth and sun, I go in search of sweets. My sugar rush can usually be quenched by slurping a politically-incorrect 12,500 kilometer carbon-footprint mango from Australia. However, my sweet tooth did net me a calorically-indulgent new find. Secrets Bake Shop [1209 Island Highway East, Unit 2B, Parksville, Tel: 250-248-8825] would make Hansel and Gretel spin out of control. The owner, Tara Bohn, is the countess of confectionaries, the goddess of goodies and the Sugar Plum Fairy of Parksville. If you have ever been into Rosie Daykinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shop called Butter Baked Goods in the Dunbar area of Vancouver, you will feel at home in Secrets. It is momâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s kitchen circa 1960 complete with the floral wallpaper and pastel colour scheme. The display case teeters with fancy cupcakes, old-fashioned cookies, handmade marshmallows, tarts and many other â&#x20AC;&#x153;melt-your-resolveâ&#x20AC;? treats. Everything is made on-prem from the gooey caramel sauce to the deep dark fudge brownies. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s even come up with her own signature bar called the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Oceanside Bar.â&#x20AC;? She plans to give the Nanaimo bar a sugar-rush for its money. If you have ever watched Guy Fieriâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s show on Food Network called Diners, Drive-ins and Dives you know, in your heart-of-hearts, that you have a few places you frequent that fall into this category. Well guess what? Me too. Top of the list is The Husky Restaurant [86 Terminal Avenue North, Nanaimo, Tel: 250-754-1680] and yes, it really is located in a Husky Gas station. The one and only thing I go for is the Eggs Benny. Swimming in tangy freshly-made hollandaise sauce, perfectly cooked eggs, crispy English muffin, a stack of meaty smoked back bacon and the requisite puff and fluff of parsley, it is heart-cloggingly terrific. The place is always slammed with lineups out the door. It is the breakfast place of choice for those in the know. The wait staff has been there since the last Studebaker rolled off the line, and the dĂŠcor is the same vintage. Next is Nellieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Dutch Deli [2980 Island Highway North, Nanaimo, Tel: 250-729-7044]. This place is a hidden gem. Ladies in frilly aprons bustling about (no wooden clogs) making whopping mile-high sandwiches crammed to the roof with layers of â&#x20AC;&#x153;betweensâ&#x20AC;? and so large you need to crack your jaw to eat them. The soups are served in small cauldrons and made daily. Then, if you have room, do a face-plant into their carrot cake. The place also stocks a trove of Dutch treats, spices, and sauces and other curious things I cannot pronounce, and are best left to the Dutch to explain. Goats on the roof? If you have no idea what the heck I am talking about, you need to get out of town more often. Coombs Country Market on Highway # 4A [2246 Alberni Hwy, Coombs,

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6560 6560 Metral Metral Drive, Drive, Nanaimo Nanaimo









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BC, Tel: 250-248-6272], is a must stop whether coming or going to Tofino. The goats (summer only) actually graze about on the grass and straw roof of the building. Serious photo op! The eclectic store has lashings of food stuffs from around the world, interesting cheeses, terrific breads, sauces, a zillion varieties of ice cream, and of course the prerequisite whirly-gigs and quirky gifts. The restaurant in the store (Coombs Café) is a place to get a decent burger, hand-cut fries and scrumptious cardiac-arrest mac & cheese. Nothing is glam, but it’s tasty and a lively environment and half the fun is the people watching. Then, to totally round out your dive experience, hit The Oxy Pub in Old Town, Nanaimo [432 Fitzwilliam Street, Nanaimo, Tel: 250-753-3771]. Located in a heritage hotel built in 1887, the Oxy has been in continuous operation, as a hotel and pub, since that date. In fact, I am fairly sure it still has some of the same patrons. In its history it has gone from classy to scary, and now it sits in the middle, firmly planted on funky. Late day hang-over breakfasts are piled high with things to soak up the residual from the night before. Lunches are served with vats of hearty made-daily soups and a club sandwich to end all clubs. Dinner, with a pint, has to include the pterodactyl-sized chicken wings and sweet yam fries. None of it is good for you, except to sooth your soul. —by Su Grimmer

What’s happening in VICTORIA ?


Where Food is Art

250-480-0883 512 Yates St Victoria Open at 5:30 Wed-Sun For menu and online reservations visit

There are so many excellent reasons to eat out in Victoria over the next two months; the first of which is the 5th Annual Dining Out For Life. On March 25th, over 60 restaurants from across Vancouver Island will donate 25% of their food bills to AIDS Vancouver Island. In addition, 1$ from every Stella Artois sold at participating restaurants on that day will go to fighting AIDS. For a full list of participating restaurants visit There is also good incentive to purchase tickets for the Vancouver Island Chef’s Collaborative Local Food Festival, Defending Our Backyard, early this year. The event itself will be held May 30th at Fort Rodd Hill, but you’ll want to buy your tickets ahead of time, as each ticket purchased before May 1st will enter you in a monthly draw. The March 1st prize is dinner for two at The Mark, and the April 1st prize is a weekend for two at the Union Club. Tickets are available for purchase at Spinnakers, Sips, Cook St. Village Liquor, La Piola, and other locations. Check their website for more details ( Looking for suitable ways to keep your budding foodies entertained during March Break? Terralicious’ Spring Break Cooking & Gardening Camp is for kids 5-9 years old, and seeks to help youth develop a meaningful relationship with food while exploring the ecology of an urban woodland, wetland, and market farm complete with laying chickens. Activities will include learning to grow, cook and bake delicious, nutritious food. March 8th-12th from 9 am -3 pm. ( Spring brings good news for Victoria celiacs, with the Niagara Grocery in James Bay now stocking a wide variety of gluten-free breads by Silly Yak. In addition to her numerous demonstration classes offered at French Mint, chef Denise Marchessault is now offering celiac-friendly classes as well (, and The Fairmont Empress will also be hosting a Celiac Weekend March 13th-14th,, including a gluten-free dinner in the Empress Room as well as a celiac-friendly Afternoon Tea. The Moss Street Market Annual General Meeting will be held Saturday March 27th, 2010. They will also be holding two half-market days April 17th and 24th before starting up the regular season on May 1st. April brings two conventions to Victoria: The Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation has partnered with the B. C. Tuna Fishermen's Association to host the second


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For dinner out, a family gathering, home parties or kicking back at the cabin, Tinhorn Creek has the wines for the occasion.  Our vineyards are located on two unique and diverse south Okanagan sites: the Golden Mile and the Black Sage bench. Our ability to blend the grapes from these vineyards and capture the best characteristics of each site sets us apart.  Visit our spectacular estate winery in Oliver, BC and experience for yourself. NATURALLY SOUTH OKANAGAN

annual Canadian Albacore Tuna Convention and Trade Show. This two-day event will take place April 19-21, 2010 at the Bear Mountain Resort, Langford, British Columbia. For more information, visit The Crystal Garden will be home to a new food show on Thursday April 22, 2010. Culinaire, Victoria’s Premier Food Tasting Experience, will showcase our region’s best restaurants while purveyors of fine food will be offering samples of their signature items and inspired creations for you to try. A wide selection of bite size offerings from the area's best chefs and specialty food producers will be available for you to sample. For more information, visit New to the South Island is Nut Pop Thai, in Sooke. Head Chef and General Manager, Cassandra Gillis blends the best of Thai and local flavours, offering fresh and customized vegan, gluten and MSG free options. Wanna Wafel recently opened in Market Square, serving authentic Belgian Waffles and Level Ground coffee. Late News: The Village Family Market on Pandora has closed its doors. Veneto in the Hotel Rialto has expanded, adding a new wine bar and opening for lunch. —by Rebecca Baugniet GET BITTER (not angry) Victoria Spirits, makers of the small batch, premium Victoria Gin, have come out with a new cocktail condiment to spice up your bar. With better bitters making a comeback in the revival of classic cocktails (Read more on bitters in “The Bitter and the Sweet” on page 42.) adding a dash or two of Twisted & Bitter to your Old Fashion is the perfect locallysourced cocktail ingredient. I substituted Victoria Gin for bourbon in Solomon Siegel’s Old Fashion Cocktail recipe and found the aromatic orange essence of Twisted and Bitter a perfect match. Another good use is to add a few drops of this medicinal tonic to a glass of soda or sparkling water for a proven bartender remedy for the Day After. Buy online at 100 ml bottles are $10 each,

What’s happening in the OKANAGAN ?

1715 Government Street 250.475.6260

Dinner 5:30 - 11 pm Tuesday to Saturday



Check out the fabulous Okanagan Spring Wine Festival April 30th to May 9th! The annual WestJet tasting remains the best overall event for sipping and swirling your way through over 40 wineries with over 160 wines. Your ticket includes: a souvenir wine glass, all your wine tasting, bread and cheese, food prepared by the Delta Chefs and a free taxi ride home. This event always sells out so buy your tickets early. May 7th and 8th. Tickets at: or 250.860.1470 Delta Grand Okanagan Resort 1310 Water Street, Kelowna. Go to for information on all of the events offered this year. The Valley’s ethnic restaurant scene has exploded over the past few months. With two new Indian restaurants, one Chinese and one Japanese to add to our expanding repertoire – this delicious variety of nosh is a welcome addition to our growing list of eateries. Poppadums is Kelowna’s hottest new Indian restaurant – located at 118-948 McCurdy Road, Kelowna (778) 753-5563. This friendly, family run establishment invites you to Taste India! Open lunch and dinner Monday – Sunday. Beautiful Peachland has a secret to share: The Blind Angler Grill. This waterfront eatery offers brunch, lunch and dinner. A diverse menu ranges from their brunch special Angler Benny to loads of tapas, burgers and steaks to curries. Signature dishes include Raspberry Chicken and Sake Salmon. 5899A Beach Avenue (250) 767-9264. Reservations recommended Chef Bernard Casavant who wowed our palates at The Sonora Room Restaurant at the stunning Burrowing Owl Winery has joined the Manteo Resort team. Now heading up the food & beverage scene at their Wild Apple Restaurant and Lounge, Chef Bernard’s locally focused new menu and signature touch are a winning the hearts of foodies and locavores alike. Stay tuned for the expansion of their gorgeous lakeside patio and outdoor kitchen – sure to be Kelowna’s hautest place to be this summer. 3762 Lakeshore Road (250) 860-1031. Speaking of locovores, Chef Rod Butters is offering various delights of the canned kind in his new line of preserves and such available at his popular Kelowna eatery and local foodie hang out, Raudz Regional Table in Kelowna. You can also listen to what Chef Butters is up to on his ‘Home Plate’ Podcast. Wine drinking vegans have to go to the Edge of the Earth to find wines made with zero contact with animal products – the Edge of the Earth Winery that is. Formerly known as Hunting Hawk Vineyards located just North of Armstrong, owners Russ and Marni Niles who are strict vegetarians, decided to start making wines that they felt good about drinking – watch for their official launch. 250.546.2164 “Don’t Panic…We have Bannock!” Located in the new Governor's Landing behind Staples on Highway 97 in West Kelowna, the Kekuli Café offers a menu that includes bannock – the famous fried bread that is a huge part of the First Nation culture. Available for catering as well – the menu offers a wide array of items. 250-768-3555 Kekuli Café #505-3041 Louie Drive. Lime lovers must check out the new product line being launched in Kelowna this summer by Henri Persaud. The magic in the Lime Peppa Sauce and Lime Garlic Sauce, originally created over 50 years ago by his father Hardath in British Guyana, has now been bottled. HOT stuff! Go to: for retailer locations and recipes.


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What’s happening in TOFINO ? March on the west coast marks the start of the seasonal northward migration of grey and humpback whales to local waters, and their annual arrival is celebrated with the Pacific Rim Whale Festival. This festival, usually planned to coincide with March Break, has expanded over the years to include many food and drink centred events. The first such event is actually pre-festival - the 15th annual gala dinner and silent auction held at the Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn. Whale festival organizer Marla Barker says the Wick donates 100 per cent of the proceeds, and the festival would not be what it is without this support. This year’s dinner auction is being held March 4. For tickets call the inn at 250-7253100 ext. 222, 1-800-333-4604 or visit The 24th annual festival officially opens on March 6 and runs until March 14. On opening day, 12 local restaurants compete for awards at the Chowder Chowdown at the Seaplane Base Recreation Hall in Ucluelet. The Sweet Indulgence Dessert Extravaganza is on March 8, with an array of homemade and chef prepared decadent treats. The Martini Migration, on March 10, is another popular (and usually sold-out) event, featuring both food and cocktail creations from local restaurants. Other festival foodie events include a crepe night at the Common Loaf Bake Shop (with proceeds going to the Whale Festival), a community barbecue on Tofino’s Village Green, pancake breakfasts at the fire halls in Tofino and Ucluelet, and a traditional salmon and bannock barbecue to close the festival March 14 at the Tin Wis Best Western Resort. Please visit for events locations, ticket information and times. Shelter Restaurant will be participating in Dining out for Life on Thursday, March 25. This evening is a fundraiser for AIDS Vancouver Island, an organization dedicated to preventing infection, providing support, and reducing stigma associated with the disease. Twenty-five per cent of food proceeds from the night will be donated to this non-profit organization. Call 250-7253353 or visit for details and reservations. There’s been a lot of buzz this winter about Jupiter Juicery and Bakeshop’s Curry Night. Al Anderson and his team are offering take-out curries and samosas every Tuesday through Saturday nights between 5-9pm. Al calls it “noodle-box style,” and I had to try it after it was described to me as the “best food in town.” There was a choice between two Thai-style curries (red and green), or an Indian one. Tofu and chicken can be added, and depending on the night there might also be the choice of lamb, pork or beef. A Caribbean style pineapple and pork was a hot seller, but I opted for the Indian with chicken. Great flavours, the right amount of spice and hearty portions. And with prices ranging between $10.95-$14.95, it’s also very fitting for the wintertime budget. Jupiter Juicery and Bakeshop is located on the lower level of the big yellow building at 451 Main St (look for Westcoast Aquatic Adventures at 4th and Main, and the yellow building is tucked in behind). 250-725-4226. — by Jen Dart

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It’s actually the original green cuisine. By Denise Marchessault

Rebecca Wellmam

Spring vegetables in a Court-Bouillon

rench cuisine: too rich, too much butter, far too heavy, bad for the heart. I’ve heard all FForthe clichés. some, the image of stodgy, artery-clogging French food still persists. I suspect people who complain about French food may be suffering from some sort of post-traumatic restaurant experience. We’ve all had them. I was in my twenties travelling in London, England, when I had the opportunity to dine at a swank restaurant in the renowned Savoy Hotel. It was my first fine dining experience and I ordered what I thought I could pronounce without too much embarrassment: Lobster Thermador (lobster smothered in a rich cream sauce, enriched with egg yolks and cheese). I don’t remember much about the meal, but I clearly remember how ill I felt immediately afterwards. I barely made it to the hotel lobby before breaking out in a cold sweat and collapsing in front of my stunned companions. I didn’t try lobster again for about 20 years. But I digress … Fortunately, the era of heavy French food was all but abolished decades ago by a group of renegade chefs who denounced heavy cuisine, and dodgy Lobster Thermador-type dishes, in favour of a lighter, healthier, more vibrant cuisine. In fact, a strict set of rules coined the “Ten Commandments” defined the lighter fare: thou shall not serve artery-clogging heavy sauces;

[Denise’s recipe for Spring vegetables in a Court-Bouillon can be found at

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thou shall respect the dietary needs of guests; thou shall not super-size … I’m paraphrasing here but you get the idea. The lighter fare was later coined cuisine minceur (thin cuisine) or the more familiar nouvelle cuisine by a couple of restaurant critics touring the French countryside in the 1960s. In truth, the cuisine wasn’t really new. It was the wholesome, rustic fare (think pot au feu) cooked every day in rural homes and modest restaurants throughout France. Of course, rules are meant to be broken, and even commandments can be misconstrued. French cuisine isn’t immune to quirky food trends and the occasional step backwards. Remember when “nouvelle cuisine” went plain stupid in the 1980s with loonie-sized food portions served on oversized plates decorated with cute dots of sauce dispensed from the ubiquitous squeeze bottle? Food trends aside, the French are notoriously stubborn, and some peculiar recipes still endure. At Le Cordon Bleu, where I studied classical French cuisine, we were taught to prepare merlan en colère, loosely translated as “pissed-off fish” (with good reason). This archaic fish recipe requires one to perversely manipulate the fish in such a manner as to force its tail through its gaping mouth. I don’t get it either. What does French food look like today? Well, that depends. There is good French food and there is bad food masquerading as French food. It’s an important distinction. Just because a restaurant labels a dish French, doesn’t mean it is. I recently ordered a tarte tatin with crème anglaise. I was served a cold apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Not even close. Good French food is many things, but it is not heavy, greasy or stodgy. It can be light and ethereal like a bowl of crystal clear consommé. It can be inventive: the humble egg is transformed into an infinite variety of dishes from dramatic soufflés to lemony hollandaise sauce. It is the art of food preservation: think cured fish, duck confit and charcuterie (patés, terrines and such). It can be both buttery and light in one heavenly bite; think freshly baked croissant. It can be refined (vichyssoise) or rustic (ratatouille). Yes, butter is still very much a part of French cuisine but so are modest portions. A small but delicious meal satisfies the tummy and the soul and doesn’t leave you craving more. But French food is more than just ingredients. It’s a purposeful method of cooking that French chefs take very seriously. The phrase most often repeated by my chefs at cooking school was “respect zee techniques!” There are, indeed, many finicky techniques to master: from fussy vegetable cuts to sauces to strain; so much to pound, whisk and knead into submission, but the end result … Well, let’s just say that once you’ve mastered a sauce made from homemade stock or a puff pastry made from scratch, you won’t be using pre-packaged substitutes anytime soon. Classical French cooking techniques can be applied to any food. Unlike some cuisines that require exotic spices or imported ingredients, French cuisine relies simply on what is fresh, local and seasonal. It is entirely wholesome: stocks, soups and sauces do not come from a box, a can, a packet or cube; flavours are not bolstered with additives, artificial preservatives or colouring agents. There is no waste with French cuisine; the entire animal is used, not only the easy-to-cook choice cuts but the entire beast “right down to the oink.” At culinary school, every bit of peel or trim from animal or vegetable was noted with every test. Waste of any kind was a sign of a negligent and careless cook. You could say French cuisine is the original “green” cuisine. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel all the way to France to experience authentic French food. If you’ve ever tucked into a plate of “steak frits” at Brasserie L’ Ecole or the cassouletinspired “pork and beans” at Glo Europub, you’ll understand the beauty of French food without having to renew your passport. The next time someone tells me “French food isn’t their thing,” I’ll bite my tongue and send them off to Choux Choux Charcuterie. A bit of pheasant paté and a crusty baguette should set them straight.


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VERMOUTH Carpano Punt E Mes Vermouth Rosso Italy $30.00-33.00 Depending on whom you listen to, Vermouth, as it is known today, was invented by either the Germans or the Italians sometime in the sixteenth century. The original was known in German as wermutwein and was a local wine infused with the bitter herb wermut or wormwood and used as a curative for parasites. Punt E Mes is considered by many to be the greatest red vermouth made today. The recipe for this magic elixir was invented by bartender Antonino Carpano, in 1870, during a slow couple of hours at his bar in a blue collar neighbourhood in the heart of Piedmont, Italy. The 15 herb recipe is still a family secret but I can tell you this: Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s slightly sweet, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s slightly bitter and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s absolutely delicious. On the rocks, my friends!

WHITE Oyster Bay Marlborough Chardonnay 07 New Zealand $19.00-22.00 Very fresh yet fleshy and ripe! Silky and buttery, with juicy citrus and peach flavours and a long clean crisp finish. Saturna Island Estate Pinot Gris 2008 BC $15.00-17.00 A very pleasant surprise at a recent tasting! Clean and dry with a flinty minerality and rapier like acidity, lovely peachy, apple flavours and a supple texture. Great with oysters.

RED Ricossa Barbaresco 2005 Italy $22.00-25.00 In a province not known for its consumer friendly pricing, this must be one of the best wine values in British Columbia today! If you love Barolo and Barbaresco but cannot afford the hefty price tag these wines usually command then look no further, we have a winner here. Silky smooth with a slightly oily texture, a bouquet redolent of violets, cherries and unimaginable earthly things, with plenty of bounce and a tannic punch that wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t lay you out cold in the second round and a finish that whispers little nothings as it fades away gently into the good night. Absolutely delicious with a little piece of hard cheese! Hillside Estate Syrah 2006 BC $26.00-28.00 Some of the most interesting wine produced in British Columbia is now coming out of the Naramata Bench just outside of Penticton. This is cool climate Syrah at its

best! Juicy and smoothly textured with blackberry, wild herb and mineral flavours. It is drinking beautifully right now but will continue to do so for many years to come. Mt. Boucherie Summit Reserve Merlot 06 BC $22.00-25.00 The fruit for this deliciously polished merlot was sourced from vineyards in the Similkameen Valley and Okanagan Falls. It is on the inky side of the colour spectrum with an imposing nose and a powerful punch! Balance and finesse, you may well ask? Yes that too! Very impressive. It is both polished and rustic at the same time with soft, round tannins and an alluring complexity. Falesco Vitiano Umbria IGT 2007 Italy $19.00-22.00 Vitiano is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Nicely balanced yet very ripe with cassis, raisin, chocolate and earth aromas that virtually jump out of the glass. Full-bodied and concentrated with rich fruit flavours, fine tannins and an extremely long finish.

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Prunotto Mompertone Monferrato Rosso 06 Italy $27.00-30.00 Not exactly a textbook blend in this part of the world but when a wine tastes this good, who cares? A blend of Barbera (60%) and Syrah (40%), Mompertone has finesse, power and rich, toasty blackberry, spice and damp earth flavours. Very full-bodied and concentrated with a hefty tannic structure that kicks in through the finnish! Penascal Tempranillo 2005, Magnum Spain $20.00-25.00 This juicy little red from Castilla y Leon is medium-bodied with ripe strawberry, spice and vanilla flavours, easy going on the palate with just enough tannin to keep it interesting. Great value for everyday drinking. Yabby Lake Cooralook Pinot Noir 08 Australia $21.00-23.00 Medium-bodied with ripe blackberry and plum flavours, a soft and silky texture with good concentration, nicely balanced with the usual culprits, acidity and fine grained tannins. The finish, yes its there and much appreciated too. Legado Munoz Garnacha 2008 Spain $12.00-15.00 Here is one that should keep your bean counter happy. Made in a slightly rustic style with warm earth and berry flavours and a surprisingly rich texture given the humble price point. Nicely balanced with finish that gets you thinking about how much you need to pay in this province for a pleasant bottle wine and a loaf of bread.


Hester Creek Estate Winery and Villa Wine Shop open daily at 10:00 am Road #8, just South of Oliver, BC Phone 250 498 4435 MARCH | APRIL 2010



—By Adem Tepedelen

WINE DOCTOR Averill Creek winemaker Andy Johnson left a successful career as a medical doctor to pursue a dream of making the best Pinot Noir in Canada.

Best Vintages: 2005 and 2006 Tasting Room Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; or by appointment. Web:

ne of Vancouver Island’s newer winemakers, Averill Creek owner Andy Johnston, is also one of the biggest proponents of the great wine made here. While other island wineries have been almost apologetic about being based here, augmenting their estate-grown offerings with wines made from Okanagan grapes, he proudly trumpets his estategrown selection and uses nothing but grapes grown on his nearly 30-acre Cowichan Valley vineyard on Mount Prevost, northwest of Duncan. “I think the future of [the Vancouver Island wine] industry has to be based on growing our own grapes and creating our own identity,” he proudly states. “For me, the only way you can go that makes any kind of business sense is to grow your grapes, make your wine. I’m really quite militant about that.” Johnston, a physician and one of the founders of Medicentres, the first primary-care walkin centres in Canada, is truly putting his money where his mouth is in this regard. Since purchasing the land in 2001, he has spared no effort to do things right—from taking great pains to prep the land for vines to putting in a top-quality, gravity-fed winery. “I did go in with a very solid business plan,” he says, “with my own independent funding. That’s crucial. A lot of people have come into it bit by bit and that’s a very difficult way to go.” But Johnston didn’t come to Vancouver Island simply with a business plan. He brought a passion for wine fostered by numerous stints working in wineries in France, Italy, New Zealand and Australia where he honed his viniculture and viticulture skills along the way. Though he initially looked into starting a winery in the Okanagan, the Cowichan Valley, as it turns out, was a much better fit all around. “This was to me a brand-new oenological area which had incredible potential,” he says, “and the land was cheap. In the Okanagan, you’re looking at $30,000-$75,000 an acre and you can’t find good acreage anymore. My land was $7,000 an acre.” Averill Creek’s first harvest in 2004—on his original 15-acre vineyard—was a scant seven tonnes of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, a little bit of Merlot and Gewürtztraminer. The following year, he planted Marechal Foch and a Marechal Foch-Cabernet Sauvignon hybrid (one of the Blattner varieties that Roger Dosman at Alderlea is also very enthusiastic about). That same year he upped his acreage under vine to 29. In the ensuing vintages, both the quality and quantity have continually improved as the vines began to mature. In the 2009 harvest in October, those 29 acres yielded a whopping 85 tonnes of “top-quality product,” 22 tonnes of which were Pinot Noir. “We’re going to be making 1,500 cases of top-end Pinot Noir for release in 2011,” he says, with no small amount of pride. “We’ve really come a long way.” Johnston’s estimated Pinot Noir production for 2011 comes close to rivalling the total production of some of his well-established neighbours who, of course, have much fewer acres under vine. “We’re certainly, by far, the biggest [in the Cowichan Valley],” he says. “There’s nobody close as far as the volume of product we’re actually growing.” And as the vines con-

tinue to mature and his own skills in vineyard management continue to improve, Johnston anticipates the steep increase in production to continue. “We had 3,800 cases for sale in 2009,” he explains. “Next year we’ll be 5,000-plus, in 2011 we’ll be 7,000-plus, and [we may] push the 10,000-case mark within three to five years.” Though he’s only been making wine on Vancouver Island for six years, Johnston not only believes there is great potential here, he also believes that part of that potential lies in the fact that there is an identifiable Vancouver Island profile to be found in the locally made wines, particularly the Pinot Noirs. “There is a strong Cowichan Valley Pinot Noir identity which is very pronounced black cherry flavour,” he posits. “You can see this in Roger Dosman’s, mine, Venturi-Schulze, Blue Grouse. You can pick [these wines] out in a tasting and know [they’re] Cowichan Valley Pinot Noir. I think that’s very exciting for us to have that kind of identity.” Johnston intends to do his part to help increase the region’s notoriety. The first few vintages of his Pinot Noir have been well received and he has accordingly set his heights high for what he hopes to achieve. “Simply the best Pinot Noir in Canada, for me, that’s my goal,” he says, “and I think we’re well on our way to doing it now. There’s a lovely progression through our Pinot Noirs from 2004 to 2008 and you can see the wine developing as the vines get older. We will be making some of the best Pinot Noirs in Canada on this site. There’s no question in my mind about that. It’s my raison d’être.”



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Phone: 250-709-9986 Address: 6552 North Rd., Duncan, B.C. V9L 6K9

Averill Creek Vertical Tasting Sommelier Elise Love and winemaker Andy Johnson hosted a vertical tasting of Averill Creek pinot gris and pinot noir at Sips Artisan Bistro. Averill Creek, a Cowichan Valley winery, is known for its excellent pinot wines. We tasted both the gris and noir from the 2005, ’06 and ’07 vintages. The ’05 gris, which had been produced sur lie and gone through malolactic fermentation was very complex with balanced acidity, the ’06, from a hot year, showed riper fruit and a fuller body. The ’07 from the disastrous cold and wet year, was fresh with peach and citrus aromas. “It was good to learn that even in our most disastrous year we are able to produce pinot gris with good structure and minerality,” said Johnson. Johnson described the ’05 pinot noir has having a textbook pinot noir nose of “black cherry, hints of leather, tobacco and violets”. The ’06, and ’07 noirs displayed more core structure with the ’06 showing cherry and a smokiness while the ‘07 was still young but promising. All the wines are available for sale at the winery. SIPS sommelier Elise Love Sips Artisan Bistro, 425 Simcoe St,. Victoria, 250-590-3519

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WINE & TERROIR —By Michaela Morris and Michelle Bouffard


Olé Argentina!

The initials International

The country’s wine industry has exploded, but wine lovers are just beginning to sample the tasty fallout.



takes on a different character. The most recognized style is rich, fruit-forward and juicy with a supple texture and lots of black fruit, typical of warmer areas at (relatively) lower altitudes. However, at higher elevations, Malbec’s floral and savoury side comes through. The wines show more restraint, elegance and minerality and have a particularly refreshing acidity. While some producers blend grapes from different altitudes to capture the various expressions, others are focusing on single sites to highlight their Francisco Richardi, oenologist specific character. In terms of altitude, at Finca Agostina holding jarilla blooms the Uco Valley is the latest hype. A couple of hours drive to the southwest of the city of Mendoza, it is closer to the Andes with overall higher elevations. Until about 15 years ago, the Uco Valley was considered too cold to ripen grapes. The sub-region of Tupungato boasts Mendoza’s highest vineyards. Malbec’s affinity with food is a vital part of its appeal. In Argentina, enjoying wine with food is entrenched in the culture. Malbec and steak? Talk about a regional match! The traditional barbecue meal is called an asado and we partake twice a day. Everyone has a grill; not a mere Hibachi but an enormous outside range. Steak always takes centre stage, as it should. Make sure you ask for it jugosa or juicy to ensure that it is medium-rare. Blood sausages, chorizo, ribs, chicken, peppers, eggplant and delicious empanadas cook alongside. The mouth-watering smell of grilled meat constantly lingers in the air. Francis Mallmann’s restaurant 1884 in Mendoza is an absolute must; we enjoyed the single best steak of our entire lives while listening to the powerful and poignant voice of Mercedes Sosa. Lunch at winery restaurants Zuccardi and Melipal are also top-notch. Beyond the classics of Malbec and meat, Argentina has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. Her flagship white is Torrontés. This widely planted aromatic grape has great promise, though it is too often treated as an afterthought. The best combine traits of Muscat and Albariño with good freshness and sometimes even a saline quality. While it is grown to a certain extent in Mendoza, the region of Salta in the extreme north of Argentina has had a longer history with Torrontés. Altitudes here can be even higher than in Mendoza and it has proven to be the best area for its production. At the other extreme of the country, in the far south, the cooler region of Patagonia is particularly exciting, but plantings are still limited. It sits at lower altitudes but enjoys a similar diurnal temperature variation as Mendoza. The season is shorter, favouring refreshing whites, sparkling wines and bright Pinot Noirs. Malbecs from Patagonia tend to be less fruit-forward than the warmer regions of Mendoza. Many other grape varieties wait in the wings with some making limited appearances here in B.C. Bonarda is Argentina’s second most planted red, and during our visit we were on a mission to try as many as possible. Sadly, few were offered and even fewer make it to our shelves. Do keep an eye out for the Bonarda-based wines from producers La Posta and Tikal. Syrah, on the other hand, is clearly the new darling following hot on the heels of Malbec. This grape does particularly well when planted at higher altitudes. Surprisingly, so does Pinot Noir; at least Zorzal’s convinced us. Veneto producer Masi has found a second home for Italian grape variety Corvina. The arid conditions in Tupungato make it very easy to dry the grapes for an Amarone style of wine. As for whites, Mendel’s Sémillon was the highlight of our trip, but vineyard manager and oenologist Santiago Mayorga Boaknin explains that theirs is one of few. This grape is usually relegated to sparkling wine production. Friulano suffers a similar fate where much is planted but little is done with it. Lurton demonstrates that the grape can produce an interesting wine when planted at higher altitudes. Similar conditions apply to Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Viognier. We tasted fantastic examples of all three. With gorgeous vistas, pungent flora, flavourful cuisine and evocative music, Argentina appeals as much to the senses as the emotions. When you thirst for this intensity, simply open a bottle of Malbec and turn up the haunting music of bandoneonist Astor Piazzolla. In no time you will be imagining yourself embroiled in a steamy tango.

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Photo by Bouffard & Morris

ike that popular girl at school who was intelligent, beautiful, witty AND nice, Argentina has the cards stacked highly in her favour. Besides stunning scenery, a rich culture and a distinct style of music and dance, in recent years, the country has also been producing fantastic wines. If this isn’t enough, a charming, unpretentious food culture mirrors the warmth and gusto of the Argentines themselves. Only the most hard-hearted could resist being seduced. When it comes to producing wine, Argentina is particularly blessed. Separated from Chile by the Andes, this imposing mountain range plays an important role in defining the wine region. At Masi Tupungato we try hard to concentrate on tasting the wines, but it is difficult not to get distracted. Directly in front of us the Andes loom proud and mesmerizing, like a Hollywood backdrop. Reaching heights of almost 7,000 metres, these omnipresent giants stop the wet weather from the Pacific entering the country, creating a semi-desert environment. Without water, only dry scrubby brush can survive. During our spring visit, the vibrant yellow jarilla is in full bloom. This is Argentina’s version of the French garrigue, and its pervasive heady scent is almost as distracting as the site of the Andes. Amid this arid and thirsty landscape, wineries pop up like oases in the desert. Irrigation is absolutely necessary to grow grapes and the snow-capped mountains provide the water. Where rain plagues so many other wine regions, growers in Argentina can relax. There’s no need to rush to harvest grapes and the threat of disease and rot is virtually non-existent. In the region of Mendoza, where 70 percent of Argentina’s wine is produce, the air is clean and the sun is fierce and unforgiving. Even we who are avid sun seekers take refuge under hats and in the shade to avoid being scorched – it can happen in mere minutes. We also have to remind ourselves that we are hundreds of metres above sea level. The terrain is surprisingly flat, rising only gradually from 500 to 1,500 metres. High altitude is crucial to the quality of the wines. Though it is intensely hot during the day, when the sun goes down it is decidedly chilly. Producers bandy around the phrase “thermal amplitude” (a good expression to remember if you want to impress). It describes the extreme difference between day and night time temperatures. At the highest sites, like Catena’s Adrianna Vineyard at 1,500 metres, the variance can be as much as 20° Celsius. The cool nights allow the grapes to retain acidity even with their incredible ripeness. Just to prove that you really can’t have it all, hail is the biggest threat dogging vineyards. Due to its size, it is often referred to as piedra, meaning stone. Hail typically falls in the hottest months of January and February and the damage can be devastating, namely partial or entire loss of crop. To protect the vines, most wineries invest heavily in netting. A sea of black webs adds to the drama of the panorama. Despite all of Argentina’s attributes, her potential has only very recently been recognized. Years of economic and political struggle have hindered progress. The magnitude of innovation and investment in both the vineyard and wineries has made a huge impact in a short amount of time. Local pioneers, like the Catena family, as well as outside money and expertise have jointly propelled quality. Top names from all over the world like Michel Rolland and Lurton from France, Sogrape from Portugal, Masi from Italy, Paul Hobbs from California and Concha y Toro from Chile all have projects here, just to name a few. The modern Argentinean wine industry is like the bomb that has just exploded but we have yet to feel all the after effects. The star of Argentina is of course Malbec. Originally from France, where it is a minor blending component in Bordeaux and plays a major role in the lesser-known region of Cahors, Malbec had to leave its homeland to find fame. This grape has adapted to Argentina’s unique climate to such an extent that you would think it was Malbec’s mother country. Wine drinkers around the world can’t seem to get enough of it. In BC alone, sales of Argentinean wine have increased about 700 percent in the past six years, most of which is Malbec. As people move away from overwhelming fruit bombs, Malbec has sashayed in with the confident and skilled steps of a tango dancer to provide a welcome alternative. Winemaker Luís Cabral de Almeida from Finca Flichman describes it as a “friendly varietal for the producer, friendly for the winemaker and definitely friendly for the consumer.” We would also add food-friendly. What is not to love about this deeply coloured red with soft tannin and plenty of fruit? We have succumbed to Malbec’s immediate charms and it only gets better from there. This supermodel has personality and a range of expression. Depending on where it is planted, Malbec

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Argentina Tasting Notes The initials VPIWF indicate wines or wineries that will be featured at the Vancouver International Playhouse Wine Festival, April 19-15, 2010. WHITE 2008 Bodega Norton ‘Lo Tengo’ Torrontés, $13.99-$15 (SKU #365890) Refreshing and pretty. A good one to keep in the fridge as the weather warms up. (VPIWF) 2009 Susana Balbo ‘Crios’ Torrontés, $18.99-$21 (SKU #769125) Fresh vibrant lime zest and orange blossom aromas. Very floral on the nose and palate. So zesty with penetrating grapefruit and saline notes. A great match with Thai food. *2007 Luca Chardonnay, Altos de Mendoza, $38-$43 Luca is owned by Laura Catena, daughter of the trailblazing Nicolás Catena. The grapes come from high up in Tugungato. Definitely one of the best Chardonnays we’ve had from Argentina. Generous and luscious with ripe pineapple and pleasant lemony, buttery and hazelnut notes. Complex with a long lingering finish. RED 2008 Trivento, Syrah Reserve, Mendoza, $12.25-$14.25 (SKU #51219) Ripe cherry and vanilla notes burst from this fruit-forward gem. Rich, round and balanced, it’s the perfect party wine. Visit their table at the Vancouver International Playhouse Wine Festival.

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Photo by Bouffard & Morris

15 years ago, ngato boasts

2008 Finca Flichman ‘Misterio’ Malbec, $12.99-$15 (SKU #757245) Simple, well-made and friendly. Lovely violets and blue plums. An exceptionally priced Malbec. Visit their table at the VPIWF. 2007 La Posta, Cocina Blend, Mendoza, $17.99-$23 (SKU# 779520) Sixty-percent Malbec with equal parts Bonarda and Syrah to round out the blend. Cherries and plums with alluring vanilla and spice notes. Supple texture and a juicy finish. Is it barbecue season yet? 2006 Renacer ‘Punto Final’ Reserva Malbec $27.99-$31 (SKU #257071) Rich and deep dark aromas of black licorice and dark plum. Sweet ripe fruit, intense yet balanced with nice lifted floral notes. A crowd pleaser. Drink with or without food. (VPIWF) *2007 Schroeder ‘Saurus’ Select Pinot Noir, Patagonia, $29-$34 Seductive with great purity of fruit. Flavours of strawberries and fresh herbs with good acidity. Nice silky texture. The price is especially appealing. A treat with our local salmon. (VPIWF) The Familia Schroeder ‘Deseado’ sparkling Torrontés is also a must-try. *2009 Zorzal, Pinot Noir Reserva, Gualtallary, Mendoza, $33-$38 Across the board, this winery was a great discovery for us. Lifted aromas of peppercorn, strawberries and jarilla. Wild and gamey with generous strawberry and cherry notes on the palate. Very intriguing and an interesting expression of Pinot Noir. Give it some time either in the cellar or in the glass. (VPIWF) Don’t miss the 2009 Zorzal Malbec either. *2006 Gran Lurton, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, $34-$38 Reminiscent of Bordeaux: cassis, cigar box and tobacco with a hint of green pepper. Definitely speaks of a cooler climate. Very savoury with bright fresh flavours and serious structure. The Argentines drink it with steak; we would pair it with local lamb. (VPIWF) Be sure to try the fascinating 2007 Gran Lurton, Corte Friulano as well.

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*2005 Enzo Bianchi, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, $39-$44 Pronounced and appealing aromas of leather and wild blackcurrant. Earthy with firm tannin, great concentration of flavours and nice mineral undertones. Very pure, elegant and characterful. Move over Bordeaux! Put away for a few years; you will be rewarded. (VPIWF) *2007 Mendel, Malbec, Mendoza, $42-$48 Attractive blood and iron aromas; smells like grilled steak. All stony and mineral on the palate. Impressive concentration of flavours balanced by a firm structure akin to the Old World. Will keep on improving over the next five years. Grilled steak would indeed be appropriate. We are praying that the 2009 Mendel Sémillon will make it to our market soon as well. 2006 Catena Alta, Malbec, Mendoza, $54-$59 (SKU #521849) A blend of grapes from vineyards at different altitudes. Red fruit jumps out of the glass immediately then gives way to complex aromas of grilled herbs, sweet spice and wild flowers. Great density, firm tannin and bright acidity. (VPIWF) Also look out for the 2006 Catena Zapata Adrianna Malbec. Approximately $90 but one of the most elegant Malbecs Argentina has to offer. It was our coup de coeur.

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By Solomon Siegel

The Bitter and the Sweet Cocktail bitters are back, and they’re better.

Gary Hynes

Bitterness is bad. That is, at least, most people’s gut reaction to bitterness, the most sensitive of our five basic tastes (bitter, sour, sweet, salt and umami, or savoury). Our pallets evolved this way to stop us from eating toxic leaves, which taste bitter. However, bitters are the spice of the cocktail world. Bitters started off life as medicine. As far back as Hippocrates, medicine men and women have been steeping bitter herbs in alcohol to cure what ails you; herbs such as gentian root, wormwood, citrus peal, cinchona bark (quinine), juniper, cacao and coffee, as well as some A well-stocked bar ready to make an really toxic stuff. In the early 1800s, Old Fashion Cocktail peddlers were selling bitters as curealls. Around 100 proof, they were indeed a great antidote to the morning after. Put a couple dashes of bitters in your morning brandy with some sugar and water to take the edge off, and the cocktail is born. The first definition of the cocktail appeared in 1806 in a Hudson, New York, newspaper called The Balance and Columbian Repository. The editor’s reply to a reader’s query about the unfamiliar term “cock tail” defined it as “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.” Bitters were the key ingredient. On their own, spirit, sugar and water was at that time called a “sling. In 1806, then, a cocktail was a very specific drink. And the cocktail was a hit! Bartenders started making their own bitters to add to cocktails or to drink unaccompanied. Nowadays we speak of aromatic bitters such as angostura, used by the dash in certain drinks. Or fruit bitters like orange bitters, cherry and even celery. Potable bitters can be drunk on their own or mixed, like Fernet Branca, Campari and Jägermister. During prohibition, many old commercial brands of bitters disappeared and bar tending became an outlawed profession. Quality became much less of an issue than the existence of liquor at all. So, for much of the 20th century, cocktails were just about covering up the taste of alcohol, and bitters were not needed. Now things have come full circle, and mixologists have back bars teaming with little dropper bottles of bitters. Many have even started making their own, like Shawn Soole (, who says, “I like to make my own bitters to specifically go into certain drinks. Weird flavours that you can work with certain drinks but can’t source yourself through normal channels.” So where is the original cocktail today? In a drink we call the Old Fashion. Though there are many theories on where the name comes from, I believe people in that latter half of the 19th century were ordering “a whiskey cocktail, the old fashion way.” Out of the simple cocktail, or “old fashion,” we see the birth of many great drinks, some labelled fancy or improved by straining out the ice and adding drops of absinthe, lemon juice or liqueurs. Vermouth was added to the cocktail and the Manhattan and martini were born. Mixologists in Canada can have a hard time tracking down their bitters. Some are easy like angostura, which are on the shelves of many corner stores. Others need to be ordered online on sites such as and

Old Fashion Cocktail

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60 mL bourbon (or other spirit) 15 mL-25 mL simple syrup 2-4 dashes of angostura bitters Garnish: thin lemon or orange twist Glass: old fashion To make simple syrup: Add sugar in equal parts to hot but not boiling water. Stir until sugar totally dissolves. Allow to

cool. May be stored for about a month. Add simple syrup and bitter to the bottom of an old fashion glass. Fill with ice and add bourbon, stir until ice melts below the bourbon. Add more ice and stir for another 30 seconds. Pour a little more bourbon on top of the ice for aroma. Twist your lemon twist over top of the glass and drop in. Smile.

For a new take on a whisky cocktail, the Choke & Rye, created by Solomon go to



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A C u li n a ry To u r o f


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EAT Magazine March | April 2010  

Celebrating the Food & Drink of British Columbia

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